Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Serena ‘sorry’ over US Open outburst

Serena Williams finally apologised yesterday for her angry outburst aimed at a lineswoman during her semi-final defeat by Kim Clijsters.

Williams' original apology made no reference to the lineswoman, but in a new statement she said: “I want to sincerely apologise first to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA and mostly tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst,” she said.

“I'm a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I'm wrong.

“I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it's not the way to act — win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner.”

Williams has already been fined 10,500 dollars for her outburst and could face further sanctions when the USTA complete their investigation into the incident.

Williams put the controversy behind her when with sister Venus she claimed the women's doubles title at Flushing Meadows.

The Williams sisters, seeded fourth, defeated the defending champions and top seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-2 6-2 in 89 minutes.

During the trophy presentation ceremony at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the sisters were greeted with cheers from the crowd as they were interviewed by Patrick McEnroe.

“It was definitely exciting, congratulations to our opponents, and I would like to thank my fans for everything,” Serena began before being interrupted by applause.

“I really love you guys and I don't ever want to have a bad image for you guys.

“You fans are my number one and I love playing here in New York. I love playing with Venus.”

McEnroe touched on the incidents of the past two days and invited Serena to address them to her fans.

“I think I said it all,” she replied. “I love my fans, but most of all I'm really excited to be here and play another match with Venus. Thank you Venus for allowing us to win today. It was great, we're excited.”

McEnroe pressed Serena on what had made her issue the amended statement and while she laughed the crowd booed before Venus interjected, saying: “What I think the crowd is saying is, Patrick, let's move on.”

That prompted more cheers as the question was sidestepped.

Meanwhile, champion Kim Clijsters is at a loss as to how to follow her remarkable US Open success.

The 26-year-old Belgian former world number one came out of a 27-month retirement last month and just three tournaments into her comeback, 18 months after becoming a mother, won a grand slam championship.

“I don't know how I'm going to top this, but it's a challenge,” said Clijsters.

“It's a challenge now at each tournament you play to try to show your best tennis and to stay in good shape.

“It's something that I'm going to be really focusing on, to think wisely about my schedule and pick my tournaments and whatever I play and whenever I play, just really try to peak at certain situations.

“So I think it's something that now with my coach, my physio and everybody, that's something that we're just going to keep focusing on, is making sure that I still work hard and everything.

“But also, they also know how important it is to have that family life at the same time. So I'm not playing next week or anything. I just want to go home and relax for a little bit.”

Clijsters, who won her only previous grand slam title at the 2005 US Open and had not played in the New York grand slam since, retired in May 2007, married basketball player Brian Lynch two months later and gave birth to daughter Jada in February 2008.

She had been preparing seriously for a comeback since the start of the year, working with coach Wim Fissette and physical trainer Sam Verslegers.

Clijsters got herself fit and match ready, playing an exhibition with Tim Henman, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf to mark the opening of the new roof over Wimbledon Centre Court and then returning to the WTA Tour in August.

Just 14 matches later she became US Open champion, watched by husband Lynch and daughter Jada.

“What a story it is,” Fissette said. “Kim having a baby and coming back now, playing a final in her first grand slam, her third tournament. That sounds like a fairytale.”

Verslegers said Clijsters had been badly out of shape when she had begun working with him.

“We didn't set goals but she knew what the main goal was,” he said. “She could run 30 minutes but that was about it.

“She was not in a great condition. The first time she ran her heartbeat went up to 160 (beats per minute) even at 10 kilometres an hour. She was overweight so it was really a start from zero.”

When asked about the toughest part of returning to the tour, Clijsters concurred with Verslegers.

“The fitness, definitely,” she said. “I think also the mental part of when I was hitting the ball. I was hitting the ball well when it was coming towards me, but just making that switch of knowing that my body is not in the same shape as what it used to be.

“I had a good feeling a few weeks into my practice sessions. I started hitting the ball really well and hitting the ball really clean, but it was just the movement and reading the game and everything that was missing.”

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