NEW YORK – Serena Williams is set to become the subject of an in-depth investigation after launching into a profane outburst that prompted her exit out of the U.S. Open.
Yahoo! Sports has learned that Williams will be asked to explain her actions and comments toward a female line judge at the end of her semifinal defeat to Kim Clijsters on Saturday night. A source revealed that representatives from tennis' governing body – the International Tennis Federation – plus members of the Grand Slam Committee, which oversees the four major tournaments – will convene along with U.S. Open referee Brian Earley on Sunday.
The group is expected to review video footage of the incident, seek clarification from the line judge and most likely hand down a heavy fine to Williams. A representative from the WTA Tour is also expected to be included, although the Tour does not have jurisdiction over Grand Slam events.
Williams lost her cool after being called for a foot fault on a second serve while trailing 15-30 and 5-6 in the second set. Clijsters won the first set 6-4.
The call gave Clijsters a match point, but it was never played as Williams exploded into a verbal tirade at the line judge. According to the Associated Press, Williams screamed at the official, "If I could, I would take this … ball and shove it down your … throat," Williams said.
The line judge then reported the comments to umpire Louise Engzell, as tournament referee Earley rushed on to the court. Williams was heard to yell again at the line judge, loudly insisting "I didn't say I would kill you. Are you serious? Are you serious? I didn't say that."
A code violation was issued for unsportsmanlike conduct, meaning Williams was penalized a point, thereby ending the contest.
Despite the high profile nature of the incident, Williams may escape a more serious sanction such as a ban from future Tour events. Slam tournaments are governed separately.
The ugly confrontation overshadowed a fine performance from Clijsters, who is now remarkably just one win away from clinching the title in her first major since returning to the Tour following the birth of her daughter.
The on-court controversy was followed by a whirlwind of activity once Williams left the playing area at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Following a press conference, Williams met with Earley to discuss the situation. She then left Flushing Meadows in official U.S. Open transportation, accompanied by her mother Oracene Price and sister Venus Williams. At her media conference, Serena refused to back down.
When asked if the line judge deserved an apology, Williams said: "An apology for? From me?"
"How many people yell at linespeople? All the people that kind of yell at linespeople, I think it kind of comes sometimes. Players, athletes, get frustrated. I don't know how many times I have seen that happen."
Clijsters will face Caroline Wozniacki for the U.S. Open crown in a contest that surely will be overshadowed by the inevitable fallout of Williams' mental meltdown.