The U.S. Open line judge who was hit by an errant ball that led to the disqualification of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has received online threats in the wake of the incident, according to multiple reports.
Neither the U.S. Open nor Djokovic revealed the woman’s name, but she has been identified as Laura Clark of Owensboro, Ky. Her hometown newspaper, The Owensboro Times, published her name in a story about Djokovic on Sunday afternoon. The London-based Daily Mail also reported that a tabloid in Djokovic’s native Serbia revealed her Instagram account, which led to “a barrage of deeply personal abuse.”
Her Instagram account appeared to have been deleted as of Monday.
The incident occurred Sunday when Djokovic fell behind 6-5 to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in the opening set. Irritated, Djokovic hit the ball with a decent amount of velocity toward the line judge and it hit the woman in the throat.
She screamed out in pain and fell to the ground. Djokovic walked over to see if she was OK and later issued a statement on social media after his disqualification.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” Djokovic said, in part. “I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok. I’m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy. As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being.”
Clark was not working the tournament on Monday, the New York Post reported.
Analyst John McEnroe, who once wore the label of tennis’ bad boy, said the 17-time Grand Slam winner will be remembered for Sunday’s events.
“Whether he likes it or not, he’s going to be the bad guy the rest of his career. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles it,” McEnroe said on ESPN. “If he embraces that role, I think he could recover. He’s got a lot of things going for him, but this is obviously a stain that he’s not going to be able to erase.”
–Field Level Media