Serena Williams’ history of U.S. Open episodes with umpires, lineswoman

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NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williamsdispute with the chair umpire during the 2018 U.S. Open final is the latest issue she’s had with match officials at the Grand Slam tournament.

Williams thought back to others while arguing in her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Naomi Osaka on Saturday, saying on court at one point: “This is not fair. This has happened to me too many times.”

When a reporter asked Williams whether her mind had flashed back to her infamous tirade over a foot fault in the final at Flushing Meadows nine years ago, she replied: “I think it’s just instantly, just like, ‘Oh, gosh, I don’t want to go back to 2004.’ Forget 2009, you know. It started way back then. So it’s always something.”

Here is a brief look back at those other U.S. Open episodes involving Williams, who has won six singles titles in New York:

THE WRONG CALL

Date: Sept. 7, 2004

Opponent: Jennifer Capriati

Round: Quarterfinals

Chair Umpire: Mariana Alves

Result: Capriati won 2-6, 6-4, 6-4

What happened: In the opening game of the third set, Williams hit a backhand that landed in — and was ruled in by a line judge — but Alves awarded the point to Capriati.

The fallout: This mistake was cited later when electronic line-calling was introduced to Grand Slam tennis.

What Williams said then: “I don’t need to see the replay. I know my shots. Not only was it in, it wasn’t even near the line. But I’m not making excuses. I didn’t lose because of that. I probably should have closed her out in the second set.”

THE FOOT FAULT

Opponent: Kim Clijsters

Round: Semifinals

Line judge: Shino Tsurubuchi

Result: Clijsters won 6-4, 7-5.

What happened: With Williams serving at 5-6, 15-30 in the second set, she faulted on her first serve. On the second serve, Tsurubuchi called a foot fault, making it a double-fault — a call rarely, if ever, seen at that stage of any match, let alone a major semifinal. That made the score 15-40, putting Clijsters one point from victory. Williams went over and shouted and cursed at Tsurubuchi, pointing at her. The line judge went over to chair umpire Louise Engzell, who assessed a penalty point, because it was Williams’ second code violation of the match (she broke her racket when the first set ended). That extra point for Clijsters ended the match.

The fallout: Williams was fined a record $82,500 and told she could be suspended from the U.S. Open and her fine doubled if she had another “major offense” at any Grand Slam tournament over the next two years.

What Williams said then: “I’ve never been in a fight in my whole life, so I don’t know why she would have felt threatened.”

THE HINDRANCE CALL

Date: Sept. 11, 2011

Opponent: Sam Stosur

Round: Final

Chair umpire: Eva Asderaki

Result: Stosur won 6-2, 6-3

What happened: Facing a break point at the start of the second set, Williams hit a forehand that she celebrated with a familiar cry of “Come on!” But she shouted as Stosur was still reaching for a backhand. Asderaki ruled the point wasn’t over and so awarded it to Stosur, saying Williams hindered her opponent’s ability to complete the exchange. Williams got broken in that game. She directed a series of insults at Asderaki, who issued a code violation for verbal abuse.

The fallout: Williams was fined $2,000 by the U.S. Open (she won $1.4 million at the tournament). But the Grand Slam committee ruled that what she did “did not rise to the level of a major offense” and so she didn’t face the additional disciplinary action that she could have been subject to after what happened in 2009.

What Williams said then: “You’re a hater, and you’re just unattractive inside,” to Asderaki.

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Marvel superheroes inspire Bradie Tennell, Starr Andrews

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Bradie Tennell and Starr Andrews have something in common beyond their obvious figure skating talents: both skaters look to Marvel superheroes for inspiration.

The 20-year-old Tennell, who opened her 2018-19 international season with a big win over two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia at the Autumn International Classic in Oakville, Ontario, counts Iron Man and Spider-Man as her favorites.

Believe it or not, Iron Man – also known as Tony Stark – figures into Tennell’s free skate to “Romeo and Juliet.”

“After I land the triple salchow toward the end of my program, I go down on one knee and do what I call my Iron Man pose, because that’s what Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.) does in the first Avengers movie,” she said.

Summoning superhuman strength worked. Tennell had a personal-best free skate in Oakville. But in other ways, she’s the opposite of her hero: Iron Man survives his adventures largely be wearing a special suit of armor, while Tennell is all about dropping her guard this season and being more expressive on the ice.

“I believe in myself a lot more,” she said. “I don’t think I’m as timid. I’m really working on not being as shy, just kind of letting my personality come through in everything.”

Andrews, 17, is inspired by the noble and determined Black Panther, depicted in the 2018 film by Chadwick Boseman.

“There is always a challenge and you always have to fight to get what you want,” she said.

“I wanted something different this year, I definitely wanted no lyrics, and an African theme,” she added. “When I watched Black Panther, I said, ‘Yeah, I want something like (the music in) this’ and Derrick (Delmore) pulled up some music.”

Delmore, who coaches Andrews in Los Angeles, wracked his brain to find the right material. Ultimately, he choreographed her free to a medley he calls “African Tribal Xotica.”

“The music is from five different things,” he said. “She saw the movie, loved it, and sent me some music from that movie she cut herself that I didn’t love. She was inspired to do something in that genre. I finally thought of music I used a few years back for another skater, and I played it for her, and as soon as it came on she said, ‘Oh, this is what I want.’”

What Andrews wants now is a triple axel. She attempted the three-and-a-half revolution jump in her free skate in Oakville, but it was downgraded (judged short of rotation) by the technical panel. Still, she placed a respectable seventh in a tough international field.

“I’m excited for the day I get it,” Andrews said. “I just have to keep working on it. One day I will land it and will be super-confident and happy.  It’s not new to me, I’ve been working on it for a while. That little extra effort, and then I’ll land it.”

Only two other senior U.S. ladies – Tonya Harding, back in the early 1990s, and Mirai Nagasu at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February – have landed the jump in international competition, but Andrews believes it is becoming almost commonplace.  While Tennell and Andrews were competing in Oakville, Japanese teenager Rika Kihira landed two triple axels, including one in combination with a triple toe, at Ondrej Nepela Trophy.

“There are so many more people doing it know. I feel like it’s not surprising for women to do it,” Andrews said. “They are doing it in junior and even in advanced novice, like Alysa Liu (at the Asian Open), which was amazing.”

Delmore supports his student’s ambition, with a few caveats.

“Right now, I want her to get used to doing the axel,” he said. “I want it to be a regular part of her competitive experience, so she knows how to keep going when it doesn’t go well, and hopefully when she gets it, she knows what it’s like to have that amazing moment and to keep going.”

MORE: 12-year-old is third U.S. woman to land triple Axel internationally

Yuzuru Hanyu wins Autumn Classic despite shaky performance

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Yuzuru Hanyu won his third Autumn Classic International crown in Oakville, Ontario on Saturday, but it was a bumpy ride.

The two-time Olympic champion’s debut of his “Origin” free skate, inspired by Yevgeni Plushenko’s famous “Tribute to Njinsky” program, had many fine elements: opening quadruple loop and toe loop jumps, plus two triple axels in the program’s second half; a pair of superb closing spins with fittingly baroque positions; and promising step and choreography sequences that preserved Plushenko’s flair, while adding a touch more refinement and control.

But a face-forward fall on a quad salchow, followed by a popped quad toe, meant Hanyu’s 165.91 points put him second in the free skate to his 16-year-old training partner, Junhwan Cha of South Korea. His total score, including Friday’s short program, was 263.65 points, just under four points higher than Cha’s second-place total.

At this point in the season, many other skaters – not including Plushenko – would have shrugged  off the imperfections in the challenging program and been happy to put a few miles on the choreography. But the 23-year-old Hanyu’s perfectionism runs year-round.

“My first competition of the season is always this level, unfortunately,” he said, as translated from Japanese. “I wanted to skate my short and free without any regrets here, and I was not able to do that.”

Hanyu likely remembers this event last season, when a mistake-riddled free skate put him second to longtime rival Javier Fernandez of Spain. This time around, the Japanese superstar, who trains at Toronto’s Cricket Skating and Curling Club under Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson, was especially disappointed that his jump glitches meant he could not attempt a quad-triple axel sequence, a combination that might have been worth some 20 points.

“I was not strong enough to skate this program yet,” he said. “I feel fine, I am not injured. Another program, maybe (last season’s) ‘Seimei,’ I might have been able to do well, but not this program. I am just not ready.”

Just as he did after Friday’s short program, where a botched spin cost him several points, Hanyu vowed to work harder.

“This is where I am right now, and I need to practice more,” he said.

Hanyu has plenty of time: his first Grand Prix event is in Finland on November 2.

The skating world may best remember this event as the week Cha came into his own. The Korean teen, who landed a quad salchow in his short on Friday, hit a quad toe to start his free to “Romeo and Juliet” – just the second time he has landed the jump in competition. While his quad salchow was judge under rotated, he went on to land two triple-triple combinations and two triple axels, all done with style and maturity beyond his years. The program earned 169.22 points to win the day.

“Last season, I didn’t skate so well. I had some hip and back (injuries) and boot problems,” Cha, who also said he had recently had a growth spurt, said. “Now I feel much stronger, and I have been working hard.”

Asked if he had a skating idol – perhaps his training partner, Hanyu – Cha demurred.

“I don’t have just one idol,” he said. “I like many different skaters, for different reasons. I will like one skater for his jumps; another skater for his spins.”

MORE: Tennell upsets Medvedeva at Autumn Classic

Canada’s Roman Sadovsky, fourth after the short program, stepped up to win the bronze medal with 233.86 points after landing two quads, a salchow and toe, in his free skate.

Jason Brown may be disappointed in his fourth-place finish here, but it cannot have come as a big surprise: the 2015 U.S. champion has said that since moving to Toronto this spring to train under Orser and Wilson, he has been re-learning his jump technique. He called the move “a four-year project.”

“I cannot speak more highly of Brian, Tracy, Lee (Barkell) and Karen (Preston), the whole team at Cricket Club,” Brown, 23, said. “They have been really been patient with me and worked with me methodically. … We’re starting from the ground up. Each day I’m learning something new, each day they are helping me work through something, whether that me a mental thing, physically getting a jump,  or the pacing of a program.”

The debut of Brown’s free to a medley of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Old Friends” and “Hazy Days of Winter” was bittersweet: his blades sung during spins, step sequences and transitions, but the jumps weren’t there. An opening quad salchow was doubled; a triple axel, popped into a single. He earned 144.33 points to place fifth in the free and fourth overall with 233.23.

Wilson, though, said they are just getting started.

“Let’s face it, he is a brilliant skater and he’s gotten close to the top of the world,” Wilson said of Brown, who was fourth in the world in 2015. “It’s a fine line trying to find room for improvement, and so that’s what we are trying to do. We are throwing a lot at him. We’re going to pull back a little.”

“What he brings, though, cannot be ignored,” she added. “My husband can be in the rink and know nothing about skating, and be mesmerized by what Jason does. He could teach clinics for every step sequence and position details. He is integral to what the sport needs.”

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