Thursday, February 2, 2023
Serena Williams’ Record Fine is A Distraction from the Bigger Picture
By Jasmyne A. Cannick (Columnist)
Published December 3, 2009

Serena Williams’ Record Fine is A Distraction from the Bigger Picture

It comes as no surprise that Serena Williams was fined a record $82,500 and placed on a two year “probationary period” for her September 2009 U.S. Open outburst wherein she yelled some choice words at a lineswoman after a foot-fault call that resulted in her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters.

Ever since the Williams’ sisters hit the pros, they have been both loved and hated. Openly loved and adored by the people they represent and secretly and sometimes not-so-secretly hated by those, who up until the Williams’ came along, dominated the sport of tennis. But yet and still, the Williams’ sisters endured and persevered even with sports commentators crediting their triumphs and victories to their “strength” and “athleticism” while their counterparts won because they “played smart” and were “strategic.”


Add to that, Venus and Serena Williams’ contributions to tennis have increased the earnings for all women on the pro circuit, but they are still loathed by the same women who should be thanking them for the money they now earn when they lose to them.

Serena herself once blogged about an incident at the German Open where she lost to Dinara Safina. She wrote that she could hear the entire players lounge “all happy and joyous” because she finally lost.

It was funny when I lost I was in the locker room and I could hear the entire players lounge really loud like really happy and joyous. Like down goes the champ! Someone beat her!!! It was like a big hoopla….

To date, the previous highest fine for a Grand Slam offense was nearly $48,000 in 1995 when Jeff Tarango was docked for at Wimbledon while playing Alexander Mronz. Tarango was upset when a serve he thought was an ace was called out. When the crowd heckled him and he told them to shut up, the umpire, Bruno Rebeuh, issued a code violation. Tarango yelled at Rebeuh and then stormed off, defaulting the match, after announcing: ‘You are the most corrupt official. I’m not playing any more.’ As the umpire Rebeuh made his way back to the changing room, he encountered Benedicte, Tarango’s wife, who slapped him. Later she defended her action and said: ‘If Jeff had done it, he would have been put out of tennis.’

Let me be clear. This is not about the money. Please. $82,500 is chump change for Serena Williams who raked in $350,000 just for reaching the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals, $6.5 million in earnings this year alone, and $28 million in total career prize money. Serena Williams is an 11-time Grand Slam singles champion who ended the 2009 season at No. 1 in the Women’s Tennis Association’s rankings. No-this is about making sure that Serena Williams doesn’t continue to dominate women’s tennis.

In other words, if you can’t beat her’, fine her’, but more importantly, put her on probation and set her up to fail.


Serena now faces a “probationary period” at tennis’ four major championships in 2010 and 2011. If another offense occurs at a Grand Slam Tournament during that time, the fine increases to $175,000 and she would be barred from the following U.S. Open. And there wherein lies the conspiracy.

I think the powers that be are tired of watching the same two Black girls obliterate the competition year after year on the tennis court. And since there’s no sign of either Williams sister retiring anytime soon, being photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe, going to prison after being under Federal investigation for dog fighting, admitting that she took performance-enhancing drugs, or doing a Sammy Sosa and showing up on the court as white woman, the International Federation of Tennis’ ruling is the next best thing.

Everyone is aware that Serena is highly emotional on the court.

So with Serena on a “probationary period,” all it’s going to take is one “bad call” meant to provoke her and strike a nerve so that she violates the conditions of her probation, thus getting barred from the next U.S. Open.

Even with Venus Williams still playing tennis, if Serena were barred from the next U.S. Open, a dramatic shift in women’s tennis would occur that would result in a cataclysmic scenario wherein the odds would be greater that someone other than a Williams would take home the coveted Grand Slam title. And even though there’s no guarantee of the outcome in such a scenario-it does present an opportunity for players who-with Serena competing-wouldn’t ordinarily have a chance at advancing in the Grand Slam tournament.

But for that to actually come to fruition, the World’s No. 1 ranked female tennis player would have to be somehow disqualified-by say another “major offense” during her “probationary period.”

Thank FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and COINTELPRO, former LAPD Detective Mark Furhman, the Republican National Committee and the 2004 Presidential Election, as the reason that I don’t put anything past anyone.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

The $82,500 fine is just a distraction from the bigger picture as it relates to Serena and women’s tennis over the next two years. A picture that some would rather paint without her in it.

Unexpected and unapologetic, at Jasmyne Cannick, 32, is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class, sexuality, and politics as it relates to the African-American community. She can be reached at

Categories: Opinion

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