Serena Williams kind of apologized, should Eva Asderaki too?


Thanks to our reader, Tennis Fan, I was referred to the hindrance rule of the WTA’s Rulebook and it suggests that chair umpire Eva Asderaki possibly made a wrong decision in the US Open final when she handed the point to Samantha Stosur because Serena Williams shouted “Come on” before the point was completely finished. The reasoning in favor of Williams is that she did not shout in order to distract her opponent, her reaction was unintentional.

I believe the outcome of the match would be the same anyway, and Williams was attacked by tennis community and fined $2000 because of her aggressive reaction to the disputable call (I still believe everyone should control their temper, even when faced with injustice), but let’s see what the official rule for such a situations says:


If a player is hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent(s), the player shall win the point. However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture).

Let’s put Serena’s behavior aside, what to you think of Eva Asderaki’s call? Was her decision right? Did Serena shout intentionally?

Serena Williams sort of apologized for her verbal attacks, on Twitter:

My emotions did get the best of me this past weekend when I disagreed with the umpire. It has been a long road to get back to the US Open this year, and I am thankful to have had such a great two weeks in New York.

By the way, have you noticed that the WTA Tour made no mention of the incident on their official website? They didn’t even mention the fine and in their article about the final there is nothing about Williams’ outburst. Here’s how they described the controversial start of the second set:

The intensity of the match picked up early in the second set, when Williams was docked a point – thus giving Stosur a 6-2 1-0 lead – after letting out a victory cry on a big forehand up the line that had not yet become a winner, as Stosur still got her racquet on it. But those circumstances only seemed to energize Williams…

(photo courtesy of FIJI Water)


  1. Well done, thank you.

    Serena’s behavior two years ago was unacceptable. And I’m disappointed that these two incidents are lumped together.

    Detractors will say that intentional hindrance has been called in similar incidences. I’d call that a failure of the umpire system. I’m just a tennis fan. I want to remember the great play. Sadly, I remember the controversy. Maybe that will change in the future.

  2. The reason that nothing appears on the WTA site is because the episode is stillbeing investigated by the Grand Slam Committee to see if a major transgression took place with regard to her outburst at the umpire and they don’t want to prejudice the decision by making comments.
    Similarly other players can’t make public comments because they could be charged with bringing the game into disrepute, although I know for a fact that some of them are seething that more action hasn’t already been taken and some feel that if Williams had been stopped previously with some of her antics then situations like this wouldn’t be arising now.
    With regard to Eva Asdiraki’s decision to award a point it is up to the umpire to decide if the hinderance was accidental or intentional. In the context of the match she obviously decided it was intentional.
    Even after a point has finished an umpire can still award a point against a player if that player has unduly upset another player by screaming out in a way that could be deemed to be intentionally done to make the other player feel uneasy or worried.
    That has happened once a long time ago in a mens match when a player screamed out Come On in what the umpire deemed to be a threatening manner.
    In this particular case Eva Azdaraki was correct and it would be a good idea if some of the players learnt the rules better. Some do know them and some haven’t really got a clue.

  3. Like several pros, Serena uses agressive tactics to upset her opponent. Of course she yelled out deliberately. I can’t believe there is even a debate about this fact. And saying she has to read the rule book is just another lie. She knows the rule. 12 year old regional and national players know the rule. You learn it when you first begin to play competitive tennis. Mary Carillo knows the rule and everyone should read what she said about acting like ass-clowns.

    So if it wasn’t deliberate what was it, an accident? Serena probably hoped she would be disqualified so she didn’t have to face losing just as she did in 2009 against Kim Clijsters.

    This just gives her another excuse not to get professional anger management help.

  4. all i can say is,while i don’t doubt her emotions did get the better of her,she was so in the wrong for her “disagreement”(is that really how she’s going to rationalize that?) with the umpire. asderaki was well within her duties as an official to implement that ruling and it is a rule that was subsequently confirmed by the tourney referee. the only one who deserves an apology is eva. she didn’t deserve that petulant attack on her character. not to mention this delirium-laden accusation that she was a completely different umpire.

    but serena she will probably never apologise rightly. she doesn’t like to admit when she’s wrong. i mean look how many times it took her to issue a proper apology to that lines woman she berated. and by that point it was insincere…..laughable,at best.

    i think what aggravates me more than anything is how much this incident has taken precedence over the way stosur played that match. this wasn’t some match-altering moment…it came early and sam played the best the rest of the way and should be celebrated and respected for that.

  5. The US Open is not a WTA tournament but an ITF one. Aderaki made the correct call as per ITF rules (so hence should not apologise)

  6. Asderaki was completely correct. In referrence to the “intentional hinderance” it refers to any action within a player’s control. Shouting “Come on!” is one of them. An unintentional hinderance refers to such: a ball falling from a player’s skirt, wind blowing off a player’s hat. She may have not deliberately meant to hinder Stosur, but her ACTION falls under the category of intentional hinderance.

  7. Marija, you indicated in the text that it was injustice that she lost the point, why ask us then for our opinion in that case? I think that from the video you posted above, which I showed you, the commentators say that the ruling was correct. Whether it was intentional or not intentional is another issue which only Serena knows, however it seemed intentional as she did scream out knowing that point was not over.

  8. And bb brings us a new level of stupidity. The commentators said it should be a let. Tennis, good, tennis fans, stupid.

  9. There’s a difference between an “unintentional” and an intentional act that has foreseeable, albeit unintended, consequences.

    Serena’s shout was intentional and deliberate, even if it wasn’t intended specifically as a distraction.

    The official’s call was completely valid and supported in the rule.

  10. The chair umpire has absolutely nothing to apologize for. The call was fine, players need to understand that yelling out during the point isn’t going to be tolerated

    As for calling that quote by Serena an apology–yeah right. More like a gross understatement directed at no one in particular.

  11. I’ve seen the commentary from 4 different TV channels and one channel said play a let and the other three, quite rightly, said the umpire was correct.
    Regardless of that what followed in the next game when Williams directed her venom at the umpire was totally out of order.
    I can guarantee if that had been a lower ranked player they would have received another code violation, thereby losing them the game, and would have been heavily fined and banned shortly after the match.
    Th Grand Slam committee are just running scared of legal action because of who it is. As I said in my previous post if she had been dealt with severely earlier in her career these situations wouldn’t be arising now.

  12. @bb If the only comment you can make is to slag off another poster then you would be better not posting at all.
    If you have something constructive to say then that’s fine but stick to the facts and don’t run down other people’s valid views and opinions. That sort of thing does you no credit at all.

  13. Listen to what Mary Joe Fernandez had to say at 2:13. Please, before you guys start “intentionally” attacking different peoples’ opinions, take a look at the video and you will see that the Chair Umpire made the right decision, as Mary Joe Fernandez said. Otherwise, refrain from leaving hateful posts and accusing me of “slagging off another poster” as I did no such thing. This refers to John and Tennis Fan. Think before you write guys! This is constructive criticism in order for you guys not to make the same shameful mistake again!

    Thanks in advance

  14. What if Stosur was Black and Serena was White?

    What if the umpire was Black and Stosur had (as most of the posters call it) intentionally yelled out C’mon while hitting a winner.

    What if more people new the definition of Bias:
    Verb: Show prejudice for or against (someone or something) unfairly: “the tests were biased against women”; “a biased view of the world”.

    Noun: Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

  15. Actually, the profane video of Serena shaking her bare ass for the camera and then posting it online can also land her another fine for off-court behavior which defames professional tennis. I understand it is being reviewed by the WTA and USTA for possible sanctions. Stay tuned.

  16. You’re misreading the language of the hindrance rule. Whether Serena “intended” to hinder Stosur, is irrelevant. The “deliberate act” language in the rule simply refers to an act within the player’s control (such as yelling. This is also why aggressive and overly loud grunting and screeching should be judged a hindrance), as opposed to something not in the player’s control (such as, for example, wind causing debris to fly onto the court during a point, a loose ball rolling onto the court, etc.).

    The only question is whether the act itself was deliberate, not whether Serena’s subjective intention was to distract Stosur. Presumably Serena controls her own voice, so she must also be presumed to have deliberately chosen to scream “c’mon” at that point. The act was in within her control. Thus, she loses the point. Period. End of story. Eva made the right call.

  17. It should also be noted that the WTA hindrance rule differs from that of the ITF & USTA rule (which was in play at the USO). “Intent” does matter under the WTA rules, and the umpire has more discretion, especially in a first instance to rule an act (whether deliberate or not) an unintentional hindrance and play a let. The WTA rule also says the player should be warned and that any further hindrances will be ruled deliberate and result in loss of point.

    Some are pointing to Eva playing calling for let in Doha in 2009 when Serena similarly yelled “c’mon” during a point against Kuznetsova (which Kuznetsova actually returned in play) as evidence of her getting the call wrong at the USO. In fact, because the matches were played under different hindrance rules, she got the call right both times. Excellent umpiring from a true pro.

  18. It’s always annoying when an “expert” makes a point without supporting documentation.

    This was a (poor) judgement call. For an explanation, with supporting documentation from the USTA rules, please read.

    And to bb, I apologize if my comment was harsh. But now that some time has past, consider reviewing your initial comment, and the initial minute of the youtube video. Your later comment pointed out that 2:13 into the clip, MJF got BE to spout Tennis Establishment party line, that the umpire made the correct call.

    I like Wertheim’s “tourettes tweet”; that shriek-hitting is a true example of intentional hindrance.

    Biggest issue? Rather than thinking about Samantha’s great win, we continue to think about a poor call.

    Tennis has an umpire problem.

  19. Unintentional = out of your control (ball falling out of pocket, headband falling of)
    Intentional = under your control (grunting, shouting etc)

    As simple as that.

  20. Hey “Joe”, thanks for simplifying the situation.

    Although I watch a lot of tennis, I didn’t realize that all grunting and shouting during serve and play resulted in loss of point.

    One other question – how many moons circle your planet?

  21. Whether Serena’s interferance was intentional or not, it happened and the umpire had to respond.
    Serena responded with a beligerant tirade. She should have been escorted off the court.

  22. To Geraldo, Yes, the umpire had to respond with correct judgement. The correct judgement was unintentional interference A let. Replay the point that Serena had won.

    By taking the point, the umpire showed that she doesn’t understand the guidance provided in Rule 26.1

  23. I believe the chair umpire should have called a let. I also believe the commentators and officials had been trying to provoke Serena during the entire Open – all of them knew she was still on probation and it doesn’t take a lot to see or hear their disdain for her. Mary Carillo in particular never seems to notice outbursts from other players but she chows down on Serena. Too bad Serena did not control her emotions.

  24. It doesn’t matter what any of you haters think, Serena has 13 SLAMs & WILL get more…more money than any of you will ever see! Her c’mon is somthing she does when she is pumped up…& She knew when she HIT the shot that girlfriend couldn’t get it, not that any of you HATERS can relate to because none of you probably are good at SPORTS (SMH, LMBO)!! So go ahead and take this opportunity to hate, because when she wins again, she & her fans like me will remember all of these great commentts!!!!

  25. The truth is that Connors, Ilie Nastase, McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and numerous others (including some women) have behaved as badly as Serena did — and for less reason. They not only go away with it, they were subsequently celebrated for their intensity, combativeness and determination. i love serena and i am proud of her she and her sister give something special to the women tour… and when they retire all the world will speak about two legends hestorical sisters..

  26. Another pundit has weighed in.

    Peter Bodo thinks Eva displayed poor judgement. From his column at

    “Aderaski was within her rights to make that call; on the other hand, she didn’t have to make it — doing so was a judgment call on Aderaski’s part. Stosur gave no indication whatsoever that she was hindered or distracted. And it was, after all, a critical break point in the first game of the second set, after Stosur had won the first. In that, it was a real momentum killer for Serena, which is neither here nor there except by way of explaining Serena’s subsequent actions. It was a buzz-kill for the fans, too.

    Beyond that, referees and umpires live by an unwritten mandate not to become “the story.” And in this case, Aderaski became the story.”

    I think Peter nailed it with that last line. Will the tennis establishment learn from this incident?

  27. Tennis Fan, haha so the story continues… I don’t agree with Bodo that it was a momentum killer for Serena, she crushed Sam in the following few points and before the incident she didn’t really have a momentum.

  28. Marija, good point. I should have done a better job of selective quoting. I though his key points were that it was a (poor) judgment call, and it made Eva a key thing we will remember about the match. He almost implies that NO hindrance should have been called, and I recall Serena’s initial reaction (“I’m not going to give her the point”) suggests that even Serena realized it should have been called a let.

    Who would have won the replayed point? We’ll never know. Did the confrontation energize Serena? She sure needed something after that first set, and possibly a draining two weeks with little recovery time before the final. Or did the confrontation drain her dwindling energy. Again, questions we shouldn’t have to ponder.

    Can any good come from this? Sure, if the USTA updates their hindrance rule. If you look at
    you’ll see that rule 26 has 5 cases and 6 comments to help determine intentionality. Just add another comment to take the uncertainty out of judging the premature celebration of a winning point.

    We have the “Serena Slam”, we could also have the Serena Rule. I’d hope it would be judged unintentional, a let, but never underestimate the stubbornness of a bureaucratic body! Will we see a 1/15/2012 FAC with a hindrance update? About as likely as Serena Williams losing the 2011 finals….

  29. Should Asderaki apologise? Hell no! You can’t go down the road of umpires apologising for things like this, otherwise players will just raise the moaning levels, and let’s face it Serena is a master at that anyway.

    Could have replayed point, maybe, but if Asderaki thinks it’s deliberate, Serena has no-one else to blame but herself after her antics over many years.


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