Official returns to scene of outburst

Updated: August 28, 2010, 6:52 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The line judge who called a foot fault on Serena Williams that sent the star into a tirade during last year's U.S. Open semifinals will be officiating at this year's tournament.

In a statement issued to The Associated Press on Saturday, tournament organizers said Shino Tsurubuchi "is a world class official and we are confident in her abilities."

The statement continued: "Consistent with U.S. Open officiating assignments, Ms. Tsurubuchi will officiate in both men's and women's matches, and will rotate through the various on-court officiating positions."

Williams, who leads active women with 13 Grand Slam singles titles, withdrew last week from this year's U.S. Open, which begins Monday. She said she is not completely recovered from July 15 surgery to repair cuts on her right foot.

Tsurubuchi was working the baseline late in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinal between then-defending champion Williams and Kim Clijsters. Tsurubuchi called a foot fault on a second serve by Williams, resulting in a double-fault that moved Clijsters one point from victory.

The ruling prompted a profanity-laced, racket-brandishing, finger-pointing tirade by Williams, who approached Tsurubuchi with what tournament director Jim Curley called at the time "a threatening manner."

Williams earlier had been give a code violation warning when she broke her racket after losing the first set. So the chair umpire awarded a penalty point to Clijsters because of Williams' outburst -- and, because it happened to come on match point, that ended the semifinal with Clijsters ahead 6-4, 7-5. Clijsters went on to win the championship.

Williams was fined $10,000 right away by the U.S. Tennis Association for unsportsmanlike conduct, the maximum onsite penalty a tennis player can face. About 2 months later, the American was fined an additional $82,500 -- a record -- by the Grand Slam administrator and told she would be suspended from the U.S. Open if she has another "major offense" at any Grand Slam tournament in 2010 or 2011.

The USTA said it would not make Tsurubuchi available to the media, per tournament policy covering all on-court officials.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press