<
>

Heckler: 'I didn't say what she said I said'

A heckler ejected for taunting Serena Williams on Monday denied using racial slurs against the tennis star, according to a published report.

''I said she was lazy, that she didn't run for balls -- stuff like that -- but I did not say the N-word or use any racial language,'' Donald Winton told The Miami Herald when reached by telephone Tuesday. "I'm at my wit's end about this. I didn't say a word the whole first set; … in the second set I said some stuff and I guess she didn't like it, but I didn't say what she said I said."

Williams claims that Winton made at least one racist remark before he was ejected.

"The guy said, 'Hit the net like any Negro would.' I was
shocked," Williams said Monday. "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.

Winton, 51, was issued a no-trespass warning from Miami-Dade police.

"They told me I said derogatory remarks and made her feel uncomfortable, and that's why I had to leave," Winton told The Herald.

"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 Monday 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.