NEW YORK – Chuckling and rolling her eyes, Serena Williams dismissed questions Monday about her tirade at a line judge over a foot-fault call at the end of her loss in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals.
The 29-year-old American is back at the Grand Slam tournament for the first time since that infamous outburst during a match against eventual champion Kim Clijsters. Williams missed last year's U.S. Open after having surgery on her right foot.
Williams played coy at first during a pre-tournament news conference Monday when she was asked what she remembers most from the way her last U.S. Open ended and how "that controversial episode" might have affected the public's perception of her.
"You mean in the singles or doubles?" Williams asked.
Then she added: "I just remember I lost, and that was that. I got really popular. A lot of people were telling me they thought I was super cool, that they never saw me so intense. So, yeah, it was awesome."
Asked whether she learned anything from what happened in 2009, Williams replied: "I don't know. I don't think about it. Are you still thinking about it?"
She rolled her eyes as she continued: "Oh, my God. That was, like, two years ago. This is, like, two years later."
During the Sept. 12, 2009, match at Flushing Meadows, Williams was two points from losing when she was called for a foot fault — a call rarely, if ever, made at that stage of such a significant match. It resulted in a double-fault for Williams, moving Clijsters one point from victory.
Williams paused, retrieved a ball to serve again and then stopped. She stepped toward the lineswoman, screaming, cursing and shaking the ball at her. Williams was penalized a point and, because it happened to come on match point, the semifinal ended right there; Clijsters won 6-4, 7-5.
Williams, whose 13 Grand Slam singles titles include three from the U.S. Open, drew an immediate $10,000 fine from the U.S. Tennis Association and later a record $82,500 fine from the Grand Slam administrator.
She also faced a "probationary period" at Grand Slam tournaments in 2010 and 2011, and was told she could be suspended from the U.S. Open if she had another "major offense."
Clijsters, who won the 2005, 2009 and 2010 U.S. Opens, withdrew from the tournament because of a stomach muscle injury.
"It's sad that she's not here. But, you know, when you're injured, you're injured. There's nothing you can really do about it," Williams said. "Last year, I was injured, and there was nothing I could do about it."