NEW YORK — Even before she began berating the chair umpire, things were not going well for Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final.
Her strokes were off-target. Her opponent, Sam Stosur, was playing better than ever. And Williams’ deficit was growing more and more daunting.
So facing a break point at the start of the second set Sunday night, Williams ripped a forehand that she celebrated with her familiar yell of “Come on!” The problem, it turned out, was she screamed as Stosur was reaching for a backhand, so the point wasn’t finished. The chair umpire awarded the point to Stosur, setting Williams off on a series of insults directed at the official, a scene far less ugly than — yet reminiscent of — the American’s tirade at the same tournament two years ago.
In the end, Stosur’s powerful shots and steadiness allowed her to beat Williams 6-2, 6-3 in a surprisingly lopsided upset for her first Grand Slam title. Stosur left the court as the U.S. Open champion; Williams’ night ended with her facing possible disciplinary action.
A sampling of what Williams said to chair umpire Eva Asderaki:
l “You’re out of control.”
l “You’re a hater, and you’re just unattractive inside.”
l “Really, don’t even look at me.”
Asked at her news conference whether she regretted any of her words, the 13-time Grand Slam champion rolled her eyes and replied: “I don’t even remember what I said. It was just so intense out there . . . I guess I’ll see it on YouTube.”
She won’t be the only one, for sure.
Stosur probably will prefer to watch footage of some of the points she dominated.
“I’m still kind of speechless. I can’t actually believe I won this tournament,” Stosur said later, the silver U.S. Open trophy sitting a few feet away. “I guess to go out there and play the way I did is obviously just an unbelievable feeling, and you always hope and you want to be able to do that, but to actually do it, is unbelievable.”
The ninth-seeded Stosur became the first Australian woman to win a major championship since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980. Stosur received a text from the former player that read: “Twinkletoes, you finally have got what you deserved.”
Only 2-9 in tournament finals before beating Williams, Stosur made the U.S. Open the third consecutive Grand Slam tournament with a first-time women’s major champion, after Li Na at the French Open, and Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon.
This was only the 27-year-old Stosur’s third title at any tour-level event, and what a way to do it. She took advantage of Williams’ so-so serving and finished with 12 unforced errors to Williams’ 25.
Most of all, Stosur avoided being distracted by the bizarre events that unfolded in the second set’s opening game. Asderaki ruled that Williams hindered Stosur’s ability to complete that point and awarded it to Stosur, putting her ahead 1-0.
Williams went over to talk to Asderaki, saying, “I’m not giving her that game.”
Williams also said: “I promise you, that’s not cool. That’s totally not cool.”
Spectators began jeering, delaying the start of the next game as both players waited for the noise to subside.
“It was probably the loudest I ever felt a crowd in my whole entire life. You’re right in the middle of it. It was definitely a quite overwhelming feeling,” Stosur said. “But once I hit that next ball in the court and started playing again, I felt settled. I guess it definitely could have been the big, pivotal point in the match.”
The truth is, the outcome never really appeared to be in doubt.
Even Williams acknowledged as much.
“She was cracking ’em today,” said Williams, whose five games matched her lowest total in 240 Grand Slam matches. “She definitely hit hard and just went for broke.”
Tournament director Brian Earley said Asderaki’s ruling was proper, according to U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier.
International Tennis Federation rules say: “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).”
Williams said later she thought the last part of the rule applied — and the point should have been replayed — such as when one player’s hat flies off during a point.
“I guess the rules of tennis are there for a reason,” Stosur said. “She made the call that she felt was right.”
In the heat of the moment, Williams had trouble putting the whole episode behind her and continued to berate Asderaki.
The chair umpire issued a code violation warning for verbal abuse, and the USTA said Earley would speak to the Asderaki and review tape to determine whether Williams would be fined. That decision will be announced Monday.