Do you remember Venus strings in her hair!?
They were like her trade mark, I think after this episode she cut them off (after wimbledon 99?
). Did you get to see this match? I remember it, but not so much I think I saw a few points. Anyway:
Williams Looses her cool and then the match
Australian Open 1999 QF
Venus Williams tried her beads off to beat Lindsay Davenport last night, and that was the problem.
Williams was trailing a set and 0-2 when, in the act of serving, some of the multi-colored beads that are her trademark detached from her plaits and showered to the court. Umpire Denis Overberg saw the shedding and called let. You could say he was beady-eyed.
Moments later, with Williams break point down, more beads fell, whereupon Overberg gave the point, and the break, to Davenport. Williams protested strenuously, angrily, animatedly, and called in referee Peter Bellenger.
Williams' voice rose; beads of sweat broke out on her forehead; fortunately, they stayed there. Bellenger was unmoved. He confirmed that Overberg had correctly applied rule I 3(a), the hindrance rule, colloquially know as the hat rule, also to be invoked if, for instance, a ball fell from a player's pocket during a point. Defeated, Williams gave a squeal of frustration and went back to the game.
Davenport, meantime, sat with a warm-up jacket pulled around her. She knew the rule well enough; she had been docked a point in a doubles match a couple of years ago when her hat flew from her head. Now, she did not raise so much as a bead of sweat. When the match resumed, she carefully swept the residue of beads from the court.
It proved to be not just a break point against Williams, but her breaking point. Her tennis thereafter was frenetic, even ferocious, but she did not win another game. When it was finished, she refused to shake Overberg's hand, prompting jeers from a hitherto sympathetic crowd.
Later, her knickers were in nearly as much of a knot as her hair. ``I really think it was an unfair judgement,'' she said. ``I've never had such treatment before from any other umpire in any other match.'' She said she could recall neither what Overberg had said to her, nor what she had said to Bellenger.
She said had not been aware that the rules had changed since she last inquired about them, two years ago. None the less, she would not change. ``I shouldn't have to to change. I like my hair,'' she said. ``I didn't think it was a distraction tonight. Everyone was watching the ball, not the beads. I didn't lose the match because of my beads falling out. I lost because I didn't play well enough and I lost focus. It's a lesson I'll have to learn.''
Davenport was not pulling her hair out over the incident, but nor was she entirely sympathetic. ``Unfortunately, that's the rules we all live by,'' she said.
She knew immediately when Williams' beads had come loose. ``You can see them a little, and you can hear them,'' she said. ``I'm not going to say it's a total distraction, but it's maybe annoying. It could be dangerous to her.
Besides, she asked, since she had dominated the match, who was to say that she would not have broken Williams and won anyway?
She was not splitting hairs. Davenport and Williams, two of the more powerful players on the women's circuit, played a game of force rather than finesse. There were more errors than winners, but they were forced only in the sense that each was wary of the other's power and left nothing half-hit. Neither player played anything as subtle as a slice.
The third game set the tone for the match and summed it up. Williams began it with a 190kmh ace, but eventually lost it when she botched a drop shot so badly that it landed on her side of the net.
Davenport played, by her own account, ``solid''. The game reached its playing peak when Davenport, serving for the first set, faced and save four break points. The match would never be so close again. All that shone about Williams in the floodlights were her shoulder blades. Her achievement, modest as it was, was to give Davenport her longest match of the tournament. So it was that in a tournament of ravages, it was beads rather than seeds that fell.
It must've been really weird for Lindsay, having that episode in front of her... how do think Venus would react now if that happened to her??