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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 05:21 GMT 06:21 UK
Williams 'hurt' by jeers
Serena Williams
Williams was going for a fifth straight Grand Slam title
A tearful Serena Williams accused Justine Henin-Hardenne of "lying and fabricating" during their dramatic French Open semi-final.

The American also admitted she was hurt by the hostile attitude of the Parisian crowd as she suffered a shock 6-2 4-6 7-5 defeat to the Belgian.

Williams was jeered by spectators in the closing stages, and had her every mistake cheered, as several line calls were disputed by both players.

The world number one was particularly upset by an incident in the third set when she prepared to serve.

Henin-Hardenne raised her hand to suggest she was not ready to receive. Williams served anyway - a fault - but then claimed she was distracted and asked the umpire for the point to be replayed.

The umpire said he had not seen what happened and Williams was rankled when Henin-Hardenne did not intervene to admit that she had not been ready.

"I was a little disappointed with her," said Williams.

"It wasn't the turning point of the match, I should have still won the game, but to start lying and fabricating is not fair.

"People want to win these days but this is just a tournament and I'm looking forward to next time already."

Despite the obvious antipathy of the home crowd towards Williams, she denied suggestions that it might have been a result of anti-American feeling in France.

"It's a little difficult," said Williams.

"I've had to learn to fight all my life - got to learn to keep smiling. If you smile things will work out.

She has had lots of chances recently, it's about time she gave others a chance
Justine Henin-Hardenne
"Deep down it hurts. I think it's bad when people start booing between serves.

"But she played very well and deserved to win. I've just got to be a little stronger next time.

"I don't think being American right now had anything to do with it. I just think sometimes you want the underdog to win."

Williams came into the match as the world number one and holder of all four Grand Slam titles, with 33 consecutive wins in the four major tournaments.

"I am not used to crying, I am sorry," said Williams after the match.

"It was a tough crowd out there... the story of my life. It is just difficult when people are booing and screaming between points."

Her mother and coach, Oracene Price, criticised the fans.

"A lack of class and total ignorance," she said. "Or they just don't know tennis and the etiquette of tennis."

Henin-Hardenne described the atmosphere as "wonderful" and had little sympathy for her opponent.

"She wasn't very happy, but that is sport, that is tennis," said Henin-Hardenne.

"She has had lots of chances recently, it's about time she gave others a chance."

Links to more French Open 2003 stories


Serena Williams
"It was a tough crowd out there"

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