Article on the Sisters II
If the Williams' truancy has caused cloud to suspend over the event, there is plenty of silver lining. First, even in the wake of the sisters' withdrawal, tickets scales spiked from 2002. And through five sessions, attendance is up from last year. Better news still, the Williams Act will play on. It's been a rough year for Venus but her stomach injury has afforded her time to contemplate her career. On Wednesday morning she sat on an overstuffed couch in the suite of a Midtown hotel. Flanked by a few journalists (myself included), she claimed that she wants to play until she's 33 years old. That's another decade. "I'm not going away," Venus said, lacking the vacancy she often betrays in press conferences. "I'm not giving up my great job. I'm fortunate. I'm blessed, and I love being out there."
Like a WWF-style tag-team, Serena followed her sister into the room, albeit wearing high heels that would surely send her physician into shock. While she had plenty of enthusiasm for her recent forays into acting -- "I found out I'm good at being fake!" -- she too reaffirmed her vows for tennis. "It's always my first love and I really, really miss it," she said before vowing, "I'm going to be stronger and come back angry."
Then it was off to do what A-list celebrities do in New York. Taping morning shows. Presenting Music Video Awards. Taking business meetings. Shopping with a sister who doubles as a personal stylist. Neither set foot on the grounds of the tennis center. But they were everywhere during the first week of the Open. Call it the mark of true stardom. Even in their absence, they have all sorts of presence.
In today's David versus Goliath match, 5-foot-7 Hicham Arazi won two sets against the 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic. He lost the next three in tiebreakers. ... In the battle for Deutschland, Rainer Schuettler panzered Nicolas Kiefer. ... Remember the name Maria Kirilenko. The young Russian plays with Hingis-like flair, on display this afternoon on the grandstand as she gave Amelie Mauresmo a good workout. ...Mardy Fish, a loser yesterday to the ageless Karol Kucera, has left IMG and signed with SFX. ...Perhaps the best match of the day? David Nalbandian outlasted Jarkko Nieminen in a fifth-set tie-breaker. ... In a curiously lopsided match, 19-seeded Nadia Petrova waxed Amanda Coetzer, 6-0, 6-1 in 55 minutes, much of it spent on changeovers. ... Nothing quite like generalizing about billions of people. Here's Tracy Austin on the dearth of Asian players: "I do think it's because of that lack of power. Your consistency and mental toughness are going to get you so far, but you need! that huge weapon to finish things off with." ... James Blake, a winner over Sargis Sargsian in a thoroughly entertaining match, was in rare form in his press conference. On his likely opponent in the next round, Roger Federer: "Let's see, two years ago Lleyton was the third seed, then the top seed, now the second seed. Pretty good draws here at the Open. Hometown kid, they could make a draw [easy] for me or something."