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Foot Fault

September 13, 2009

Serena Williams got called on a foot fault on a second serve at 15-30 today and proceeded to abuse the lineswoman. The lineswoman was clearly not impressed, and looked visably frightened. The umpire called the lineswoman over, the referee was called onto court, and Serena was given a point penalty. Earlier in the match she had smashed her raquet and recieved her first code violation. This meant the match was over, Kim Clijsters the victor.

Before I begin this debate, I want to say that I feel Kim would have won this match anyway. She was the better player on the day and had two match points. She was showing no signs of choking it away. So, congrats to Kim. I hope she takes this title.

I have heard many people say that calling a foot fault at a point like that in the match is ridiculous. That since it is so close, the linesperson should let the foot falt slide. This, in my opinion, is unreasonable. The linespeople are there to call balls in and out and watch for foot faults. You cannot expect them to to exercise leniency just because of the time in the match. It is a yes no call and that is the rule. Foot faults are there for a reason, and they can be a bit ridiculous at times. But, it is absolutely not the linespersons job to decide whether a foot fault is a fair call or not. It is their job to call it, and she did. From what I understand, it was indeed a foot fault and Serena has said that yes she believes she foot faulted. Serena also agrees that the linesperson did her job and she cannot fault her for that.

If you want to argue the rule, then I think the rule book needs to be changed. Perhaps foot faults should be played as a let, perhaps players should be able to challenge them.

What happened next was definitely a case of bad sportsmanship. I do not blame Serena for being angry. I do not even blame her for taking some of that out of the linesperson, that happens. But to wave your raquet, point, and swear at them? Unacceptable. It is understood she said, ‘ I am going to shove that fucking ball down your fucking throat and kill you’. Not really acceptable behaviour on a tennis court. After reading Serena’s presser, I believe she recognises this.

As for whether a point penalty should of been given, it is a tad complicated. I have always thought a warning for raquet abuse was silly, smashing the raquet does no harm to the sport or anyone else. Abusing a linesperson in that manner is unacceptable. I do believe Serena should have been punished for what happened, and I guess a point penalty was the only option after the earlier raquet smash. Do I think code violations should be given for raquet smashing? No.

Regardless of what happened, it was a really tragic way for such a good match to end. Here are some quotes from Serena’s extremely classy and professional presser.

I’m not saying I don’t, but like ‑‑ I don’t know. You know, I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse. If I foot fault, I did. It was what it was, and that’s basically all it was.

I try to be really professional. I think Kim played a wonderful match, and I think I played good, too. I think I could have played better, and I actually feel like I can go home and I can actually do better, which I’m really excited about.

I’m pretty sure I did. If she called a foot fault, she must have seen a foot fault. I mean, she was doing her job. I’m not going to knock her for not doing her job.

I hope this doesn’t distract too much from Kim’s victory. Congrats also to Wozniacki, who made her way through the draw under the radar playing solid tennis. It is nice to see her break out at a slam and I look forward to the final.

One last quote, this one from Kim:

She just said, Good luck. I hope you win. You know, we always got along well, and I think just unfortunate that a battle like that has to end like that. So, again, yeah, just unfortunate.

serena throws her toys

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