Maleeva Knows Sister Issue
Maleeva Knows Sister Issue
As the youngest of three siblings, she sees a difference in scrutiny that the Williamses face.
By DAVID CARRILLO, TIMES STAFF WRITER
The Beach Report
Magdalena Maleeva loathes the comparisons between her family and the Williams sisters as much as she did playing her two older sisters.
Maleeva, competing in the JPMorgan Chase Open at Manhattan Beach, said Monday that she and her older sisters, Katerina and Manuela, "never received the type of scrutiny that [Serena and Venus] get when they played each other."
"Nothing negative was ever said or written that we wouldn't try as hard when we competed against each other," said Magdalena Maleeva after losing in the second round to Italy's Rita Grande, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. "Maybe stuff like that is written about them because of racism."
Critics have suggested that Venus and Serena Williams, who began playing tennis in their youth at neighborhood courts in Compton, Calif., have let up when they face each other.
The Williams sisters have denied the allegations. They say they play hard each time they hit the court.
Whether it's against Lindsay Davenport or their sister.
But for the Maleevas, the attention was very different. Not as high profile, the Bulgarian sisters played each other in 15 combined matches with little fanfare.
Magdalena, 27, said she always had a difficult time facing Katerina and Manuela, who retired in 1997 and 1994.
"It's hard to concentrate when you know the person across from you is your best friend," said Magdalena Maleeva, ranked No. 16 in the world. "We always tried our best and after a match we never talked about what happened."
Magdalena faced Katerina and Manuela a combined six times, losing every time. No one accused her of letting either of her older sisters advance.
The Maleeva trio made Grand Slam history by being the first siblings seeded in 1993 at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
The Williams sisters have taken it a step further. They became last year not only the first siblings to play in a Grand Slam final in 117 years, but the first pair of African Americans to play each other in the final of a major tennis championship.
But outside the Grand Slam events, the Williams sisters often do what they can to avoid matching up against each other.
At Manhattan Beach, top-seeded Serena Williams will begin play Wednesday against Lina Krasnoroutskaya of Russia.
Venus Williams will sit out this tournament after winning the Acura Classic title Sunday at Carlsbad.
Without her sisters on the tour, Magdalena Maleeva hasn't lost her motivation for the game, even though her career has been slowed by a shoulder injury.
"I actually didn't believe I would come back as strong," she said, "so I'm very happy with how far I came back."
In other second-round matches, Chanda Rubin defeated Marissa Irvin, a Studio City Harvard-Westlake High graduate, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. Tatiana Panova of Russia defeated Meilen Tu, 6-2, 6-4.
In first-round matches, Alexandra Stevenson defeated Elena Likhovtseva of Russia, 6-4 7-6 (6). Amanda Coetzer of Russia defeated Jelena Jankovic of Yugoslavia, 6-2, 6-2. Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia defeated Paola Suarez of Argentina, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. Tina Pisnik of Slovenia defeated Shuai Peng of China, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.
In doubles, Martina Navratilova and Russia's Liezel Huber beat Suarez and Uzbekistan's Iroda Tulyaganova, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (8); and Corina Morariu and Kimberly Po-Messerli beat Slovenia's Tina Krizan and Srebotnik, 6-2, 6-1.