November 7, 2009

ITF chief says ban unlikely for Serena Williams

By ANDREW DAMPF (AP) - Top-ranked Serena Williams will most likely receive a "significant" fine but no suspension for her U.S. Open tirade, the president of the International Tennis Federation said. Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock is expected to give his recommendation to the Grand Slam committee, which probably will announce the sanction Monday or Tuesday. "I don't think (an Australian Open ban) would make much sense, because it would penalize the people handing out the punishment," Francesco Ricci Bitti told The Associated Press on Saturday. "For the Grand Slam committee to exclude her from a Grand Slam doesn't seem likely."

The Grand Slam committee is composed of Ricci Bitti and the four Grand Slam presidents. Williams was fined $10,000 after her profanity-laced outburst at a lineswoman during her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters in September. A fine from the ITF could be much greater. "A significant financial penalty makes much more sense. But it has to be significant enough for the fans (to appreciate) it," Ricci Bitti said. "Of course it may not be significant for Serena Williams, who earns tens of millions." By winning the season-ending tour championship last weekend, Williams set the record for single-season prize money in women's tennis by topping $6.5 million in 2009. Her career prize money is a record $28.5 million.

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