Not for the first time in her career, Australian Open eighth seed Venus Williams has departed a grand slam in melodramatic style, apparently happy to wear a US$5,000 fine in order to avoid discussing her shock first-round exit at the hands of Great Britain’s Johanna Konta on Tuesday.
The maximum penalty for skipping mandated post-match press conferences is US$20,000 but Williams’ latest fine actually qualifies as a hefty punishment by the standards of those normally meted out on women’s players. Still, for a similar offence it is bettered only by the $10,000 penalty levied on Marat Safin for avoiding media commitments at the 2001 French Open.
It was left to Williams’ sister Serena to field questions later in the day. “I don’t know. If you want to, you can ask her,” she responded when asked about the walk-out. “I don’t know. I wasn’t here.”
Williams’ latest breach came after a similar incident at the 2015 French Open, when she was slugged with a US$3,000 fine for skipping her press commitments following another first-round loss, that time to fellow American Sloane Stephens. In 2010, she and Serena were fined $4,000 each for a media no-show following a doubles match and joined a varied roll call of past offenders that includes Andre Agassi, Mats Wilander, Goran Ivanisevic, Victoria Azarenka and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
The episode is likely to bring into question the level of disincentive against players simply foregoing their media requirements when the monetary punishment pales in comparison with the prize money on offer at the tournament in question. For her first round exit, Williams still pocketed AU$38,500 and a second-round loser this year will take home AU$67,000.
Australian Nick Kyrgios, meanwhile, has been issued a US$3000 sanction for an audible obscenity during his first round win over Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta on Monday. The Australian’s latest indiscretion has no impact on the suspended 28-day ban and USD $25,000 fine hanging over him since his infamous comments to Stan Warwrinka last August, which applies only to ATP events and not grand slams.
Kyrgios is no lone ranger, with 16 other player’s in the men’s draw sanctioned for audible obscenities or racquet abuse across the first round and qualifiers of the Australian Open.
This article was written by Russell Jackson in Melbourne, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 20th January 2016 05.59 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010