Behaving Badly: Serena Williams Foot Fault Video

Serena Williams Foot Fault


Serena Williams must be pretty annoyed that she doesn’t live in simpler times right about now. It’s one thing to mess up and go a little nuts when you feel you’ve been wronged, but then to lose your match and end up the laughing stock of . . . well, the world, that’s a whole other ball game.

The now infamous Serena Williams foot fault video probably has the young tennis star cringing. After all, when most of us lose our temper, we don’t end up with more than 248,437 people watching us (and that’s just the views on one video on YouTube, there are multiples available). That being said, this is a prime example of social media going viral.

What exactly happened? Well, Williams was playing against Kim Clijsters, an unseeded Belgian tennis player when the line judge called her on a foot fault . . . her foot had been over the line when she served. Serena Williams’ outburst was what cost her the game, since she had already received a code violation after breaking her racket at the end of the first set. Reportedly, she told the line judge that she would kill her, costing Williams yet another point.

Since she was defending her U.S. Open title, it makes sense that Williams would be more than a little upset about losing the game. Clijsters is going on to play in the finals and Williams is officially out.

On Twitter, the news quickly spread, as it often does on this popular social media site. Combine the two, Twitter and YouTube and you have a video that is ripe for going viral. It also seems that everyone who was watching the match made their own YouTube video . . . you’ll find a vast array of the exact same video on the site.

While the event would have been well broadcast anyway, you have to admit that there are a large number of people who wouldn’t have been watching the game. Even non-tennis fans are flocking to YouTube to watch the video and leave comments, many of them racist in nature. In fact, the nastiness of the comments really makes you realize that the real anger wasn’t on the court, but off.

 

To top things off, many people are saying that the call WAS a bad one and she didn’t have a foot fault . . . what do you think? Either way, death threats aren’t exactly appropriate action, even if you are very pissed off.

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Comments

  1. Ken Wibecan says

    Good point, Bensonm.
    But I still think the rule should be changed or at least subject to review by the all-seeing eye. In a way it is simply another line call and if all other line calls can be reviewed why not foot faults? I am sorry, but I just do not think that it is a good rule as it is presently formulated because it permits too much abuse. A game should not depend o the good will or eyesight of line judges.

  2. Benson Bear says

    Ken, your suggestion is not a good one. It would allow a person
    to step far into the court after beginning their service motion.

    Calling a footfault is not so hard. You do not have to watch
    for ball contact, you can *listen* for it. And if you don’t hear
    it, you don’t call the fault. This will mean that if anything,
    rarely, a fault is *not* called when it should be, but it won’t lead to
    incorrect positive calls.

    Also, in virtually all cases, the foot is on the line well before the
    ball is struck. So the line judge sees the foot, stores up that info, and then attends to the striking of the ball. If the ball is struck, then a foot fault is called at that time.

    This is something that John McEnroe did not even understand about foot faults. When he called the foot fault against Safin last year “the worst call of all time”, he indicated that he thought it was the position of the feet at ball contact that constitutes the violation. It is not.

  3. Ken Wibecan says

    Why not change the foot fault to: The server must start his or her serving motion with the foot outside of the base line. Leave off the strinking of the ball requirement. Otherwise the line judge must keep his or her eyes on two points simultaneously: The line and the proximity of the foot to it, and when the server actually strikes the ball. It is a difficult thing to do and is probably called incorrectly most of the time.

    None of this excuses Serena’s behavior.

  4. says

    I don’t even see your stand point or your thesis in this article. At first you sympathize with Williams for losing the match on that point, and how she’s defending her Title and she ought to be upset. And then you say that her actions were over the line.

    Whole point of individual/micro blogs is to have an opinion, not repeat what was on ESPN’s site.

    @Ken – according to Wikipedia, if your foot touches the line BEFORE you strike the ball with your racquet, it’s a fault. Which is why most players eventually land within the white lines after they serve and don’t get called. It’s an ambiguous point – I used to work at a Tennis Club, and been watching for years (don’t play it very well yet) and I still had to look up the exact rules… it’s not something that is often called, so it’s not a surprise you and I both were unsure of the exact rules.

    Bottom Line – whether the call was good or not is irrelevant to me, it’s how you handle it afterwards. You can command much more respect and intimidation from the other person when you keep your cool and get your point across, rather than swear and threaten… Unless you’re in the mafia world perhaps

    • says

      Jeff, I can sympathize with Williams over the match, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with the way she handled things. My point is that it’s important to watch what you say and do because it could end up plastered over the entire internet.

  5. says

    Whoa! I didn’t see that one coming at all. I watch a decent amount of tennis, but that one i missed this one. Wow, Im going to watch this like a non-stop funny blooper.

  6. aaroncrowe says

    That is terrible, why did she do that? I know it might have been a mistake, but com’on…

  7. Ken Wibecan says

    Linesmen and women with perfectly good eyesight make in or out calls on balls only to have their calls overturned under the glare of the computer. Which only means that they are human and make mistakes. If they can make mistakes so can the umpires who call foot faults. But theze cannot be appealed. That seems unfair somehow. I have played tennis for years (at least I used to) and never did understand how a foot fault is called. When you hit the ball? When you toss it up? Or when? Somebody please enlighten me.

  8. says

    Genesis:
    First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to reply. But I still have to take an opposing position. Let’s move the argument from sport to everyday life. I understand that there is an expected code of conduct in life. However, from my own personal experience in business. If you do not stand up for yourself when you are right, then you are bound to fail. Diplomacy does not always work. I want to know if the consequences would have been the same for a man. Now I’m seeing that there was an additional 500.00 fine assessed for abuse of her OWN EQUIPMENT. We both know that the money isn’t the real issue here. Serena could buy and sell people like me all day long. But I find it disturbing, that there is a meeting that will require even further diatribes from a panel of USTA officials. So is it time that there is an elected singular head of the USTA? Or should there be third party arbitration? I want to establish a clearly defined set of parameters so that my Son and Daughter receive equal treatment in the event that they elevate to the professional level. But in closing, I think it’s OK to stand firm and fight if you are right. The only caveat would be, In no way should you use violence to win your argument. Words in sport are often not family friendly. I played several sports, and probably became a stronger person because we learned to argue and disagree without fighting.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  9. Karen says

    First, I don’t know how anyone can ethically write an article about something that happened in a tennis match they didn’t see, especially without stating, in the first words of the opening sentence, that you hadn’t watched the match. Secondly, I don’t know anyone, nor have I heard anyone,(except you) state that Serena is a “laughing stock” of anything. Some people are apalled, some are very supportive, but who thinks she is a “laughing stock?”
    Now, to the crux of the matter. There are two issues. One is the foot fault. Why is there no clear video or still shot that shows whether or not Serena stepped on the line? There were cameras everywhere; we get playbacks of every close call. . .Yet, there is no image of the foot fault? That alone makes me wonder if the call was accurate. One clear image would quiet a lot of the controversy. Who checks on the accuracy of the judge’s calls? Do we just take it all on faith? No match should be won or lost on faith, when we have the technology to address this more effectively.
    Next, is Serena’s response to the judge’s calling the foot fault. Yes, she lost her temper, and yes, she yelled at the judge, and yes, she used the f-word. But then she walked away to play. Did anyone actually believe that she would possibly harm the judge? And, the videos I have seen (always the same one) seem to indicate that Serena did NOT say she would kill the judge. So, Serena overreacted. So did all the judges if they actually believed Serena was going to hurt them.
    Next, the penaly point. Why do this in the match? No one wants to win that way, no one wants to lose that way. Why not take a point away from the “offender” rather than give a point to the opponent? Kim Clijsters is a great player. Give her the chance to win a great victory.
    As for the fine, who cares? The top players can pay the fines without it hurting them one bit. So either increase the fines so they are meaningful, or get rid of them. And fining someone for breaking their own equipment? How does that make sense?

  10. Michael King says

    Genesis:
    First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to reply. But I still have to take an opposing position. Let’s move the argument from sport to everyday life. I understand that there is an expected code of conduct in life. However, from my own personal experience in business. If you do not stand up for yourself when you are right, then you are bound to fail. Diplomacy does not always work. I want to know if the consequences would have been the same for a man. Now I’m seeing that there was an additional 500.00 fine assessed for abuse of her OWN EQUIPMENT. We both know that the money isn’t the real issue here. Serena could buy and sell people like me all day long. But I find it disturbing, that there is a meeting that will require even further diatribes from a panel of USTA officials. So is it time that there is an elected singular head of the USTA? Or should there be third party arbitration? I want to establish a clearly defined set of parameters so that my Son and Daughter receive equal treatment in the event that they elevate to the professional level. But in closing, I think it’s OK to stand firm and fight if you are right. The only caveat would be, In no way should you use violence to win your argument. Words in sport are often not family friendly. I played several sports, and probably became a stronger person because we learned to argue and disagree without fighting.

  11. Michael King says

    Genesis:
    All B.S aside, I watched the match, and the official knew that life was not on the line. I think it is a bit sensational for you to take such a firm position in opposition of Serena. I don’t even like tennis, but I am forced to watch more than I care to because I have two kids that play and are active in the USTA. If she were a man, things would have been handled in a different way. There is no way that Andy Roddick or even a James Blake (Neither of whom are defending champions) would have received such harsh penalties. Not only does she lose, but she gets an arbitrary fine, and possibly the loss of ALL compensation for the event. Are they going to return the money to the fans? No, she’s being punished for being insubordinate. Plain and simple, anyone who sees it another way, speak up. I only see rookie management being applied, this isn’t a fast food dispute. It’s the American equivalent of the Superbowl of Tennis. So if Ben Roethlisberger had a problem with a call in his superbowl victory, would it have cost him the game and 350k? NOPE!

  12. says

    People have had it in for the Williams sisters from the very beginning. Why either of them has to be better behaved or composed than, say, John McEnroe, is simply another example of the double standardization and racism in society that still exists today.

    The video clearly shows Serena challenging the referee’s accusation about threats. I side with her.

  13. Kate Paine says

    I fault the USTA AND the lines person. That person was not exercising the right caution at the right time in calling foot fault, when she was not absolutely sure. And then she claimed that Serena said see was going to kill her, and of course, tho she used the fxxx word, she never said anything about killing. These volatile line judges should NEVER be allowed to call an important match.

    I hope they don’t treat Serena any worse than they did the men who have behaved badly! Lets vilify correctly, shall we.

  14. Sam H says

    You owe an apology, too. Not for being ignorant, but for not doing your homework before you opened your “mouth,” too.

  15. Sam H says

    You obviously need schooling in tennis: Kim Clijsters is a star in tennis, and was unseeded only because she took time off to have a baby. Anyone watching the match for more than 15 minutes would have known that.

    • says

      Sam, you’re right, I’m not an expert in tennis and I didn’t watch the match. I did read up on the match, however and it was mentioned in every article which I read that Kim Clijsters was unseeded.

      Gene and Michael, I see no reason why any athlete should be allowed to behave badly, regardless of gender or race. Of course, it happens because we are all human, but I also wanted to point out that this incident would have been fairly confined if it were not for social media. Any little thing can now be seen by anyone and everyone, which should make us all think.

  16. Rick says

    One cannot tell for certain whether there was or was not a foot fault from the TV replays, because the view is from behind Serena. The correct view for determining whether a foot fault occurred is the view that the linesperson (and those behind her and facing her) had. That is, looking “down” the length of the baseline. Unless someone has a video with this view, we’ll never know for sure.

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