Serena Williams will most certainly not be taking a competitive role at this year’s U.S. Open but Shino Tsurubuchi, the line-judge who was subjected to a profane and aggressive torrent of verbal abuse from the world no.1 at the end of last year’s women’s singles semi-final, will be fulfilling her normal duties.
Tournament organizers are insistent they have no hesitation in using the Japanese who has been working the lines at Flushing Meadows since 2007 and called Williams for a foot fault when she was two points from losing the match to eventual champion Kim Clijsters.
A statement issued by the United States Tennis Association said: “Shino Tsurubuchi is a world class official and we are confident in her abilities.
“Consistent with U.S. Open officiating assignments, Ms. Tsurubuchi will officiate in both men’s and women’s matches, and will rotate through the various on-court officiating positions.”
Tournament policy, that prohibits any comments to the media by any on court officials, means Tsurubuchi is not allowed to speak about returning to the scene where she was subjected to abuse from Williams that tournament director Jim Curley referred to at the time as ‘threatening’.
But speaking in an interview to Sports Illustrated during the ATP World Tour event in Delray Beach earlier this year Tsurubuchi, an International Tennis Federation ratified white badge holder said: “As an official you do not want to be famous. But I think I made the right call and I want to come back because my favorite tournament is the U.S. Open. I love it. I want to work [again] it's very important for me.”
Williams was immediately handed a $10,000 fine by the U.S.T.A. after being charged with unsportsmanlike conduct, the maximum onsite penalty a tennis player can face. Later in the year she was hit by an additional $82,500—a record—by the Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock and told she would be suspended from the U.S. Open if she has another “major offense” at any Grand Slam tournament in 2010 or 2011.
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