Williams was levied with a $10,000 fine by the U.S. Open for unsportsmanlike conduct on Sunday for her foul-mouthed tirade at a line judge the night before, as she slumped to a semifinals defeat to Kim Clijsters. The fine was the maximum possible at this stage.
An additional $500 fine for racket abuse was also imposed by tournament referee Brian Earley, but those on-site punishments could be just the tip of the iceberg for the world No. 2.
A further investigation by the Grand Slam Committee, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports on Saturday night, has already begun and will prompt serious concern from Williams and her supporters.
The committee has the authority to strip Williams of her entire $350,000 prize purse for this tournament, plus hand down a ban for future Slams starting with the 2010 Australian Open. However, she is expected to be allowed to compete in Monday’s women’s doubles final alongside sister Venus.
A committee administrator will first determine whether Serena Williams’ actions warrant consideration as a “major offense” – a near certainty given the nature of her comments toward the official.
It is likely that she would be charged with “aggravated behavior” for conduct that was “flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a Grand Slam, or is singularly egregious,” according to the Grand Slam rule book.
Williams released a statement on Sunday evening claiming her actions had highlighted her intensity for the game. “Last night everyone could truly see the passion I have for my job,” she said.
“Now that I have had time to gain my composure, I can see that while I don’t agree with the unfair line call, in the heat of battle I let my passion and emotion get the better of me and as a result handled the situation poorly.”
Williams has won 11 Grand Slam titles and is the defending champion at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Martin Rogers is a staff writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send Martin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.