Davenport cherishes best night of career
Davenport cherishes best night of career
By Martyn Herman
BEIJING (Reuters) - Lindsay Davenport described Friday's spectacular Games opening ceremony as the best moment of her sporting life.
The 32-year-old former Olympic champion, who withdrew from the women's singles with a knee injury but is still contesting the doubles, joined the U.S. team in the Bird's Nest stadium as President George Bush looked on.
"I've obviously experienced a lot in my 16-year career and I have to say last night was probably the greatest night I've had professionally in my whole career," Davenport, who came out of retirement last year, told reporters at the Olympic Tennis Centre on Saturday.
"To have the President there was very special because we all have a lot of respect still for our leaders. He spoke to each and every athlete on the team.
"To be around all the American athletes was very inspiring. The guys we were sharing with in the athletes village all got back about 2.30 this morning and they were totally wired."
Davenport is looking forward to playing in the doubles with Liezel Huber who became an U.S. citizen last year having represented South Africa at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
"She is by far the most inspired player on the team having just become a U.S. citizen," she said. "She'll be ready to bleed red, white and blue.
"We have a very good chance of winning a medal, I'm full of excitement for the doubles."
Davenport, who won the Olympic singles gold at Atlanta in 1996, hopes to be able to compete at the U.S. Open later this month.
"My knee is doing better than it was at Wimbledon," she said. "Right now I'm just focused on the Olympics and trying to win a medal and then on to the U.S. Open."
Davenport: No regrets on comeback
BEIJING (AP) -- Lindsay Davenport came to the Olympics without her family, meaning the longest separation yet from her 14-month-old son. Then her gimpy right knee swelled after a workout, forcing her to withdraw from singles.
That doesn't mean Davenport regrets her decision to mount a career comeback so she could be in Beijing.
She has enjoyed sharing cozy quarters with her U.S. teammates in the athletes' village. She still hopes to win a medal in doubles. And for Davenport, the chance to take part in the opening ceremony rivaled winning a Grand Slam title -- or gold medal.
"I've experienced a lot in my 16-year career, and I have to say Friday night was probably the greatest night I've had professionally," she said Saturday.
"First, to be around all the other American athletes to start the night, you're obviously very inspired by all of them. And then we were surprised by President Bush Sr. and Jr. coming to address all of us and meet every athlete personally. Regardless of anybody's philosophy, we still have a tremendous amount of respect for our leaders, and that was extremely cool."
Such thrills are a reason for leaving the family thousands of miles behind, and for trying to coax a little more tennis from 32-year-old legs.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Davenport knew what she would have to endure when she returned to the tour last year after becoming a mother, but she wanted to play in Beijing. The daughter of an Olympic volleyball player, Davenport won the gold medal in singles at Atlanta in 1996.
She won't be able to duplicate that achievement next week. But she's playing doubles with the world's top-ranked doubles player, Liezel Huber, and they're seeded fifth in the tournament, which begins Sunday.
"We have a very good chance," Davenport said. "Physically doubles is the better choice for me at this time."
When a workout Thursday left Davenport's knee swollen, she decided it wasn't up to both singles and doubles, and she withdrew from singles. The same injury forced her to pull out after the first round at Wimbledon in June, and she hasn't played since.
"For 14 or 15 months it has been my whole goal to be here in Beijing and to be able to compete," she said. "So of course there's disappointment. But I knew coming here there was a little bit of a chance that might happen."
Davenport said her knee is improving, and she hopes to play singles at the U.S. Open when it begins Aug. 25. She's noncommittal about whether she'll continue her comeback beyond that.
For a new mom, the travel is a drawback. Issues with visas and accommodations led her to make the trip to China without her husband or their son, Jagger.
As a consolation, she has an adopted family in Beijing: her U.S. teammates, including Mike and Bob Bryan, James Blake and Sam Querrey.
"Some of us are sharing rooms at the village, and we're having a good time," Davenport said. "Liezel and I are sharing a bathroom with James and Sam. Bob and Mike have the master suite."
"I'm her new family," Blake said.
Teammates rave about Davenport's comeback. Because of the balky knee, she has played only one singles match since April. But her record this year is 22-4, with tournament titles in Auckland and Memphis.
"Lindsay asked me the other day, 'Liezel, would you consider doing it?'" Huber said. "And I said no. I would like to have kids, but I can't even imagine giving birth, the whole experience. And coming back to play tennis ..."
Olympian Venus Williams echoed that sentiment.
"To do what she's done," Williams said, "I wouldn't be brave enough or strong enough."