Article: Pierce Pins Olympic Loss On Defending Champ Venus
Pierce Pins Olympic Loss On Defending Champ Venus
Photo By Susan Mullane By Adrianna Outlaw
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Venus Williams won't be adding another glittering Olympic prize to her trophy case this year. Mary Pierce ended Williams' path to the medal pedestal, pinning a 6-4, 6-4 loss on the sixth-seeded American in the third round of the Athens Olympics today.
Four years after Williams struck gold in singles and doubles at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, partnering with sister Serena, she failed to advance to the Athens quarters in either draw, losing her opening doubles match with Chanda Rubin.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Pierce played a much cleaner match, frequently finding the corners with her deep drives and consistently targeting the Williams weaker forehand in extended exchanges from the baseline. Williams, who had dropped just three games in her previous two Olympic victories, was undone by 51 unforced errors and an abysmal performance on break points. The former No. converted only two of her 13 break-point chances.
In contrast, Pierce was four of seven on break-point chances and committed 34 unforced errors. A pumped up Pierce played with more composure on pivotal points and will now top-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne for a semifinal spot. The reigning U.S. Open champion routed Australia's Nicole Pratt, 6-1, 6-0, in a 45-minute mismatch that saw the world No. 1 win 17 of 22 first-serve points to advance to the quarterfinals.
It was a day of loss for the American women as all three U.S. singles players were swept from the draw. Australia's Alicia Molik, who defeated Roland Garros runner-up Elena Dementieva in the second round, beat American Lisa Raymond, 6-4, 6-4. The 31-year-old Raymond was a late replacement for Serena Williams, who withdrew with inflammation in her surgically-repaired left knee last week. Second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo rolled over the 16th-seeded Rubin, 6-3, 6-1, to reach the quarterfinals.
The U.S. doubles team of Martina Navratilova and Raymond advanced to the last eight without striking a shot as their scheduled third-round opponents, Mauresmo and Pierce, withdrew from the doubles draw, presumably to focus on singles though Mauresmo cited a rash from a skin allergy as the reason for the withdrawal.