Commentary

Williams accuses opponent of cheating

Originally Published: May 30, 2009
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

PARIS -- "I'm like drama," Serena Williams said on Saturday, "and I don't want to be drama.

"I'm like one of those girls on a reality show that has all the drama, and everyone in the house hates them because no matter what they do, like, drama follows them. I don't want to be that girl."

But, undeniably, she is.

Williams lost the first set to Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, but rallied in typically dramatic fashion to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and reach the fourth round.

[+] EnlargeSerena Williams
Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty ImagesSerena Williams was exasperated at her opponent after a controversial point in the first set.

It was her second three-setter in three matches so far here at Roland Garros.

Actually, it could have been far less interesting if chair umpire Emmanuel Joseph could see clearly -- or had the advantage of instant replay.

The pivotal point in the fifth game of the first set: Martinez Sanchez sent a backhand drop shot over the net and Williams clubbed a swinging volley -- right at her head. Martinez Sanchez instinctively lifted her hands to protect her face. Replays showed the ball hit her right wrist, the free hand since she is a lefty, but the ball ricocheted over the net and Joseph called it a point for the Spaniard.

Williams, who was standing only 20 feet away, immediately argued that the ball hadn't hit the racket -- she used the word "cheating" in her conversation with Joseph -- and, therefore, it was her point. Since it was a break point on her serve, Martinez Sanchez took a 3-2 lead that held up the rest of the frame.

"I didn't think the ball touched her, it did hit her," Williams said. "In the rules of tennis when the ball hits your body, you lose the point.

"I would never have done that. I've never sunk [that] low. I would never do that to anyone on this tour."

Williams directed Joseph to ask Martinez Sanchez if the ball hit her. He did not.

"I hit that ball rather hard -- she knew it," Williams said. "Be honest. She wouldn't even look at me. I have no respect for anyone who plays a professional game and doesn't play professionally."

Martinez Sanchez, meeting the English-speaking press later, insisted the ball did not hit her.

"No, no," she said.

Martinez Sanchez was told that Williams believed she cheated.

"I don't want to comment on this, [it's] a stupid comment."

One of Williams' other comments to Joseph: "She better not come to net again." "Did you hear that?" Williams asked reporters, sounding surprised that on-court microphones had picked it up. "I'm from Compton."

That set Serena off into a fit of laughter.

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.