Serena Williams threatens to sue Wimbledon referee over slippery grass

Serena Williams of the U.S reacts as she misses a shot against Christina McHale of the US during their women's single match on day five of the Wimbledon. Photo / AP.
Serena Williams of the U.S reacts as she misses a shot against Christina McHale of the US during their women's single match on day five of the Wimbledon. Photo / AP.

Tennis players have revolted over rain and toilet breaks at Wimbledon as organisers faced claims they were overlooking safety to get matches played on time.

Serena Williams, the tempestuous tournament favourite, threatened to sue a referee over slippery playing conditions while two other players erupted with rage after being refused a toilet break.

In ill-tempered scenes on Centre Court, referee Andrew Jarrett was targeted by Williams midway through her match as she warned the umpire: "If I get hurt, I'm suing him".

She confronted umpire Marija Cicaks as light drizzle fell, telling the official: "I'm going to fall. I don't get it. Can't they just close the roof?"

Her outburst came after Frenchman Gilles Simon, 31, had also threatened legal action after last week telling how he wanted to "destroy" the umpire who refused his request to leave the court in drizzle.

Speaking after the match Williams said: "I was in the moment. I was on the court. What I say on the court, whether it's smashing my rackets or it's in the heat of the moment ... I have no plans, no future of suing Wimbledon. Let's get serious. That's not what I do, that's not what I am.

"I'm not answering any more questions about that, nor will I want anyone reporting that either. That's just completely absurd and wrong."

Asked about how bad it can get when it is wet underfoot, she said: "Playing on the grass is a little tricky because, you know, we don't even start play till 10:00 for practice because of the dew, the morning dew on the grass. You can definitely slide. It's very slippery out there."

The All England Club has been under pressure to stage games on time after being forced to stage only the fourth 'People's Sunday' in its history following heavy rainfall last week.

However, a spokesman categorically denied referees were being urged to play through any rain.

As Williams lost her temper during her fourth-round Wimbledon win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, a simultaneous confrontation erupted on on Court 7 where former doubles champion Jonny Marray became the first British player through to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

Marray and Canadian partner Adil Shamasdin faced Spain's Marcel Granollers and Pablo Cuevas, who were enraged after being refused a toilet break.

Eyewitnesses claimed Cuevas appeared to relieve himself in a tennis ball can as the match was locked in the final set at 8-9.

His team-mate, Granollers, was said to have waved the same can at the umpire when the game finally came to an end.

However, the pair, who also expressed concern about rain, later denied Cuevas had urinated on court.

An All England Club spokesman later clarified that none of the players on Court Seven urinated during the match.

The disputes over the weather come just a day after organisers were forced to host the fourth "People's Sunday" in its history in a bid to get the tournament back on track after a week of wet weather and below average crowds.

The All England Club has been under pressure to catch up after the worst fixture pile-up in a decade after rain disrupted three of the five opening days at SW19.

The wettest ever Wimbledon is believed to have taken place in 1922, when the tournament moved to its present home at Church Road, Wimbledon.

The backlog of games grew so long that the finals were not completed until 12 July, a week late. Speaking after her victory, Williams said her comments were in the "heat of the moment" and she had no plans to sue Wimbledon.

Also on Monday, Andy Murray brushed aside Nick Kyrgios, the so-called "bad boy of tennis", to reach his ninth consecutive quarter-final.

The world number two clinched a 7-5 6-1 6-4 victory in only an hour and 43 minutes.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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