Originally created 06/26/04

Umpire's bad call leads to dismissal



WIMBLEDON, England - The chair umpire who awarded an extra point to Venus Williams' opponent during her second-round loss at Wimbledon won't work another match during the tournament.

"I have now discussed the incident with the chair umpire concerned, and we have agreed it will be in the best interests of both parties if he takes no further part in the event," tournament referee Alan Mills said Friday.

The umpires' office wouldn't comment.

Ted Watts, of Britain, mistakenly gave Karolina Sprem a point she didn't earn in the final tiebreaker of Thursday's 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) upset of Williams, the 2000-01 Wimbledon champion.

The error made it 2-2 in the tiebreaker. Williams then built a 6-3 edge, but she lost the next five points for her earliest loss at the All England Club since her 1997 debut.

"I'd like to think he didn't do it on purpose," Williams said. "I don't think one call makes a match."

She led the tiebreaker 2-1 when Sprem hit a first serve ruled wide by the line judge, who put her arm out and shouted, "Fault!" Williams casually hit the ball over the net, and Sprem smacked a backhand into the open court. Williams stood still at the baseline, figuring it was time for a second serve.

But Watts announced the score as 2-2, the sort of mistake that occurs every so often but generally is noticed right away by one of the players or another on-court official.

With the players apparently unaware Sprem received a point she shouldn't have, they lined up again in the same positions for what both thought was a second serve. Indeed, Sprem put a safe offering in, and Williams laced a backhand return winner. That should have made it 3-1 for Williams, but Watts called it 3-2.

"Unfortunately, the way it happened, Venus didn't query it at the time," Mills said. "They played point after point afterward, and the result, I'm afraid, stands as is."

Other top players thought Williams or Sprem should have questioned the call.

Serena Williams, who said she didn't watch her sister's match, questioned why Sprem didn't acknowledge the error at the time.

Andy Roddick, seeded No. 2 in the men's draw, said both players and all the officials were partly responsible.

"Something like that shouldn't happen at a tournament of this magnitude," he said.

Sprem said she was confused but was focusing on the match. Venus Williams said she couldn't be sure what the score was, so she didn't query the call.