San Francisco

‘I Comped All Her Chicken Wings': SF Restaurant Gives Serena Williams a Standing Ovation After She Chases Down Phone Thief

By this time, most of the country knows that tennis champion Serena Williams nabbed a would-be phone thief while she dined at a Chinese restaurant.

But it turns out the Florida superstar was in San Francisco on Tuesday, eating at Mission Chinese, a popular hole-in-the-wall eatery.

And the restaurant at 2234 Mission Street captured nearly the entire Williams encounter on black-and-white surveillance video: The wait outside the restaurant with her dining companion, the apparent theft and her calm retrieval of the phone by asking the well-dressed man to return it to her after she followed him out to the sidewalk.

Williams never mentions by name the man she was dining with. The video shows her with a bearded man wearing glasses whom she refers to as her "superhero sidequick quailman." Her publicist wouldn't immediately confirm the man's identity to NBC Bay Area.

Williams said she received a standing ovation when she returned to the restaurant after retrieving her phone. 

"We were all apologetic and she was like 'don't worry,'" Lindsay Pfeiffer, an employee at Mission Chinese, told NBC Bay Area. "I comped her chicken wings and comped all her drinks."

Pieced together with what Williams posted Wednesday on her Facebook page and what the surveillance video shows, the tick-tock of the foiled crime goes like this:

Williams and her companion are seen outside the restaurant, waiting like anyone else. Williams is almost unrecognizable from her usual powerhouse self: She's dressed in an unassuming hoodie, sweats and sneakers, with her hair up in a high ponytail. She and her friend sit down at a table. Within moments a well-dressed bald man hovers over their table. He has a sports coat slung over his shoulder. The video doesn't show it, but Williams wrote that the man grabbed her phone and exited the restaurant.

She described in her post how her "superhero" sense told her to keep an eye on the interloper. "My phone was sitting in the chair but I just didn't feel right. He was there too long. 'Is he a customer?' I thought 'Is he waiting on the bathroom?' nonetheless I tried to shake his this (sic) eerie feeling."

Then she realized her phone was gone.

"OMG that dude took my phone!" Williams wrote.

The video then shows the suspect calmly walking out of the restaurant, and then Williams calmly walking after him. On the sidewalk, Williams is seen talking to the apparent thief. In her post, she wrote that she spoke to him in the "most menacing yet calm no nonsense voice" asking him if he had "accidentally" taken her phone. 

Williams claims the man eventually said, "Gosh you know what I did! It was so confusing in there. I must have grabbed the wrong phone."

"I swiftly thanked him and left," Williams wrote.

San Francisco police spokeswoman Grace Gatpandan said that she'd like Williams to report the incident so that the department can investigate whether it was a one-time thing or part of a serial cellphone scheme.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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