Fan Ejected For Heckling Serena Williams

Monday, March 26th 2007, 7:23 pm
By: News On 6

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) _ Serena Williams says a heckler bothered her throughout her match Monday at the Sony Ericsson Open, making at least one racist remark before he was finally ejected.

``The guy said, `Hit the net like any Negro would.' I was shocked,'' Williams said. ``I couldn't believe it. I had to do a double take. I think I hit a double fault on that point.''

Williams won the third-round match against Lucie Safarova, 6-3, 6-4. Williams complained late in the match to the chair umpire about the heckler.

``I shouldn't have let it bother me, because growing up in Compton we had drive-bys,'' said Williams, who was raised in Los Angeles. ``I guess that's what my dad prepared me for, but I'm not going to stand for it.''

Fans and security confirmed a man heckled Williams inappropriately, tournament director Adam Barrett said.

``The man was identified and escorted off the site,'' Barrett said. ``As security determines the severity of his actions, he may not be welcome to return. We take these matters very, very seriously.''

Williams, an eight-time Grand Slam champion, is among the event's most popular players. She lives in South Florida, considers Key Biscayne her home tournament and has won the title three times.

With a small crowd in the stadium for her late-afternoon match, she said she could hear the heckler between points and during them.

``Every time I missed a shot or a serve, he would say, `That's the way to do it,''' she said. ``He was calling, `Foot fault.' He was saying, `Hit in the net.' ... I mean, who does this? That's so elementary. You don't do this on a professional level.''

Williams and her sister Venus have boycotted the Indian Wells tournament since 2001, when the family was booed after Venus withdrew just before a semifinal match against Serena. Their father, Richard, said those jeers were racially motivated.

``It's always something with me,'' Serena said with a laugh.