A line judge who was hit in the throat by a stray ball struck by Novak Djokovic at the US Open has received death threats from sick online trolls – who even mocked her dead son.
Djokovic was taking on Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in the last-16 on Sunday night in what was expected to be a routine outing.
However, the world No 1 was broken in the 11th game of the opening set and his frustration spilled over.
The Serbian whacked a ball towards the back of the court in anger but it struck the line judge, later revealed as Laura Clark from Kentucky, in the throat.
Clark fell to the ground and was tended to by the medical staff on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Djokovic was subsequently defaulted from the tournament and stripped of his £190,000 prize money. The 33-year-old was also fined £7,600 for ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’.
Clark’s social media platform was attacked by twisted users who wrote horrific messages, including taunting her late son Josh, who died from a bicycle accident aged 25.
“Don’t worry, you’ll join him soon,” one grim comment read.
While another posted: ‘hahahahahahahaha YEEEEES, YEEEEEEEES.”
Clark promotes a wine company in several of her Instagram posts but that was also targeted by the trolls.
One person wrote: “You can drink litres of alcohol but cannot survive small tennis ball?? Bad acting. Shameless.”
Speaking to local magazine Owensboro Living in 2014, the line judge explained what it was like being on court with some of the best players in the world.
“The only times we are seen by the people are during our mess-ups. Period,” she said.
“The first time you are on a big court it is terrifying, and it is the coolest, most terrifying experience in the whole world. You are shaking so hard and you’re sure they can see you shaking.”
Djokovic refused to fulfil his media duties after being kicked out of the US Open but he later released an apology on social media.
He said: “This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. 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.
“I apologise to the US Open tournament and everyone associated for my behaviour.
“I’m very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I’m so sorry.”
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