Serena admits being out of line and apologises for outburst

Better late than never. Serena Williams has finally issued what she calls a sincere apology for her unforgivable behaviour at the US Open.

Serena Williams addresses the press following her doubles victory with sister Venus.
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Better late than never. Serena Williams has finally issued what she calls a sincere apology for her unforgivable behaviour at the US Open where she abused and allegedly threatened a female line judge at a crucial point in her semi-final encounter with the eventual champion Kim Clijsters. Williams, winner of 11 grand slam titles and a tireless worker alongside her big sister Venus to improve the fortunes of the less-privileged members of society, undid much of that impressive work when she was caught on camera uttering obscenities towards the official who had penalised her for foot-faulting.

The outburst led to Serena losing the match on a technicality, the world No 2 incurring a penalty point on match point which presented a straight-sets victory to her bemused Belgian opponent. No remorse was displayed on court or in the ensuing press conference and it took two days for the official statement containing the unreserved apology to materialise. "I want to amend my press statement, and want to make it as clear as possible," said Serena before partnering Venus to victory in the delayed women's doubles final. "I want to apologise sincerely, first to the lineswoman, to Kim Clijsters, to the US Tennis Association, and to tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.

"I'm a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I'm wrong. I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences, both good and bad. I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result." The sordid affair might not end there, however. Serena, 28, who was fined US$10,000 (Dhs36,700) for the over-the-top protest and a further $500 for breaking a racket at the end of the opening set, could forfeit her $350,000 prize money and face a suspension from the game if the authorities choose to throw the rule book at her.

An investigation has been launched to determine whether the behaviour of Williams can be treated as "aggravated" which would be what the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) code of conduct describes as "flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a grand slam". Stacey Allaster, the recently appointed chairman and chief executive of the WTA, would not pre-judge that enquiry but issued a statement referring to the player's behaviour being "inappropriate and unprofessional".

Allaster said: "No matter what the circumstances, no player should be allowed to engage in such behaviour without suffering consequences. "Serena is a great player who has done so much for our sport, and I am certain she will continue to be a role model to millions of young women who want to play the game and excel as Serena has done. "As a role model, it's important for a leader like Serena to step forward and recognise her behaviour was unacceptable."