Sunday, July 21
Davenport wants to return to top -- of her game
SAN FRANCISCO -- Lindsay Davenport is realistic. After nine months away from the tour, she probably isn't going to shake the Williams sisters' reign atop the rankings in the near future.
And that's really not what she's looking to do, anyway.
"My challenge isn't to get to No. 1,'' she said. "I mean, my challenge is to get back into the top of my game, whatever the ranking is.''
Davenport takes her first formal step in this week's Bank of the West Classic, her first tour event since having surgery on her right knee in January.
Davenport is seeded second for the $585,000 event at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium on the Stanford campus, meaning she gets a first-round bye. She was granted a special injury ranking for the Bank of the West by the Women's Tennis Association.
Venus Williams is the top seed, while defending champion Kim Clijsters is seeded fourth. Two-time champion Monica Seles is the No. 3 seed.
Davenport injured her knee in November. After resting it for several weeks to see if it would heal itself, Davenport decided on surgery.
Her recovery was tedious; nine weeks on crutches, then exercises to combat atrophy and regain her strength.
"I had stages to where I started to walk on my leg, which was really exciting, then I could walk up hills, then I could jog, jog up hills, then run. It was a lot of different stages of my rehab,'' she said.
"Fortunately I remained positive throughout the ordeal. I'm not sure how. I was really kind of excited to get back.''
On Saturday, Davenport made a promising return to competition in a Fed Cup match, downing Israel's Anna Smashnova 6-3, 6-3 on a hot summer afternoon in Springfield, Mo.
Davenport, 26, is currently ranked No. 9. She has 37 tour titles, including three Grand Slams, and an Olympic gold medal. Over the course of her career, she has spent 37 weeks at No. 1.
She didn't watch the Wimbledon final between Serena and Venus Williams, currently ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively. Serena Williams defeated her sister in the finals both at Wimbledon and in the French Open this year.
Davenport doesn't want to imagine how the rankings might be different if she and Martina Hingis -- out with an ankle injury -- had played the past few months.
"Who knows what would have happened? It's kind of pointless to speculate on that. Definitely those two are leading the tour right now,'' she said. "It's up to all the players, not just myself, to try and get some other players winning some Grand Slam titles and get some other players in the finals.''
In her case, Davenport said she likely wouldn't "be a huge factor'' when she first comes out.
"The most important thing for me is to take a few months to get back on the tour and then maybe be a threat the end of this year, early next year,'' she said. "I'm not really expecting to come out and start winning these tournaments right away.''