The US Open Line judge, who punched Novak Djokovic in the throat with a ball, was exposed to heinous online abuse after world number 1 fans discovered her Instagram account.
Laura Clark, of Owensboro, Kentucky, was catapulted into the spotlight Sunday night after Djokovic accidentally hit her with a stray tennis ball, which resulted in him being disqualified from the US Open.
Clark immediately fell to the floor, apparently in considerable pain, before Djokovic came to see if she was okay. The game was then delayed and the Serb kicked out of the tournament.
The world's number one was stripped of $ 250,000 in prize money for finishing the last 16 and was fined an additional $ 10,000 (£ 7,600) for “unsportsmanlike conduct”.
Trolls quickly hit social media today, found Clark's public profile, and sent thousands of hateful messages, including death threats.
Laura Clark was the linesman who was hit by a ball from Novak Djokovic at the US Open on Sunday
Djokovic fans quickly found Clark on social media to send her death threats
Clark's son died in 2008 and one of Djokovic's fans said to her, "Don't worry, you'll be joining him soon."
In a post dedicated to her late son, one user wrote, "Don't worry, you'll be joining him soon," while another wrote, "hahahahahahahaha YEEEEES, YEEEEEEEES."
Clark's son Josh died of a bicycle accident in 2008 at the age of just 25.
Clark's son Josh died in a motorcycle accident in 2008 and a sick troll wrote, "Don't worry, you'll be seeing him soon."
Almost every post on Clark's Instagram account that dates back to her first picture in September 2011 has been spammed with comments from Djokovic's fans, many of whom refer to her as "sick" and "alcoholic".
Clark advertises a wine company in a number of different posts on their social media profiles, and one user wrote, “You can drink gallons of alcohol but not survive a small tennis ball? Bad acting. Shameless. & # 39;
A tennis enthusiast, Clark has worked his way up from junior and college tournaments to officiating at the sport's preeminent events like the US Open and the Davis Cup.
Speaking to local Owensboro Living magazine in 2014, Clark said she previously broke her lip from being hit at 200 km / h at a tournament in Louisville.
“People only see us during our mess. Period, ”she said.
“When you're in a big square for the first time, it's terrifying, and it's the coolest and most terrifying experience in the whole world. You are shaking so badly and you are sure that they can see you shaking. & # 39;
Clark holds her throat after being hit by Djokovic's stray ball at the US Open
Clark regularly posts photos on her Instagram and has now received thousands of comments
However, she said she sympathized with top players and the pressures they were under – and said there were "no calls that are insignificant".
Clark has sat in the umpire's chair and has served as both the tournament umpire and linesman. He said it is "not something that will make you a lot of money" – but I would do it for free '.
Friends said last night that the ball did not seriously injure her neck and Djokovic apologized for "causing so much stress".
After the incident, Djokovic posted a violent apology on his social media that read, “This whole situation made me really sad and empty. I checked the line person and the tournament told me that thank god it was fine.
“I am very sorry for causing her such stress. So unintentional. So wrong. I am not disclosing your name to respect your privacy. As for the disqualification, I have to go inside again and work on my disappointment and make all of this a lesson for my growth and development as a player and a person.
& # 39; I apologize to the US Open tournament and everyone involved for my behavior. I am very grateful to my team and family for being my rock supporter and my fans for being with me forever. Thanks and I'm so sorry. & # 39;
This was arguably the most dramatic disqualification since British referee Gerry Armstrong, now Wimbledon referee, booted John McEnroe from the Australian Open in 1990 for verbal abuse.
The moment the world number 1 in frustration hits the ball behind and hits the linesman
Djokovic, the world's best tennis player, checks whether Clark is doing well on the edge of the court
Clark looks up to Djokovic after the incident, which resulted in the Serb being disqualified
McEnroe also criticized Djokovic last night for leaving the premises without a press conference, telling him to "man" himself and apologize in person rather than on Instagram.
"He's got a lot to do but this is a stain he can't remove," said McEnroe, who was known for his own volatile behavior on the pitch.
When asked if he thought Djokovic should have continued to play, Carreno Busta shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Well, the rules are the rules. … The referee and the supervisor did the right thing, but it's not easy to do. & # 39;
It comes four years after Novak Djokovic bullishly dismissed concerns about his frustrations in court in an angry exchange with a reporter.
The Serb hit a ball into the crowd in his 3-set win against Dominic Thiem. Months earlier, he nearly met an officer after throwing his racket at the French Open and was asked if he feared his behavior would one day "cost him dearly".
He laughed at his question and said, “You are amazing. You always choose things like that. & # 39;
When informed that he could have seriously injured a viewer, he replied, “It could have been, yes. It could have snowed in the O2 arena, but it wasn't.
“Am I the only player who shows my frustration on the pitch? You say? It is no problem for me. It's not the first time I've done it. & # 39;
Djokovic had most likely contributed to his seventeen major titles prior to his disqualification at the US Open and had been in great shape. He had set a 26-0 record for 2020 that may have lengthened by the end of that strange season.
The disqualification is a heavy blow to his hopes of grabbing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who are both not represented in Flushing Meadows and have nineteen and twenty Grand Slam titles respectively.
In an apology posted on Instagram, Djokovic said the situation made him "really sad".
At 33, he can hardly afford to miss such opportunities and a £ 123,000 fine is the least.
One result of the drama is that for the first time since Marin Cilic six years ago there will be a long-awaited new Grand Slam master in men's tennis in New York.
There's no question that Djokovic's angry thug was not meant to hurt anyone. As soon as he saw that he had hit his unintended target, he gestured his apology, knowing he was in big trouble.
Tim Henman, who defaulted on a similar Wimbledon accident 25 years ago, said Djokovic's expulsion was a "massive shock" but "there is no doubt it is the right decision".
& # 39; It's the right decision. It happened to me at Wimbledon in 1995 in the same scenario: you have to be responsible for your actions when you look at the facts that you have to delay, ”said Henman.
This time around, it was worn by someone who at times pretends to be above the sport as they try to cement a legacy comparable to that of Nadal and Federer.
Djokovic has sailed close to the wind many times, and in anger he has knocked away balls that went into the crowd or aggressively tore towels from ball kids.
There was a notable incident at the French Open in 2016 when he played against the Czech Tomas Berdych. He tossed his bat into the clay at a linesman, and when it hit it was only thanks to the officer's reflexes that missed his head. He could have gone there and not won his individual title at Roland Garros.
In a way, this is a fair end to a lockdown summer that has severely tarnished the reputation of a highly intelligent, motivated and complex man who is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time.
He organized the disastrous Adriatic tour around the Balkans, which had to be canceled when numerous participants, including himself and his wife, tested positive for coronavirus.
The entire guiding principle of the exhibition series appeared to be that Covid 19 was something to be overlooked, and there was a definite lack of social distancing throughout production. It overshadowed his sizeable charity donations in Covid.
He was previously criticized by one of Serbia's leading epidemiologists for his anti-vaccine views.
He must now decide on his next move ahead of the French Open, which is due to take place later this month. Dominic Thiem, number two, becomes the new favorite at the US Open, and a new champion is guaranteed.
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