Tennis' stars set for CSC
Davenport joins Venus in Memphis WTA event
By Phil Stukenborg
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
A Lindsay Davenport-Venus Williams final?
For the Cellular South Cup, the annual Women's Tennis Association stop held each February at The Racquet Club of Memphis, it's more than a dream pairing.
Tournament owner Mac Winker announced Tuesday Davenport has agreed to play in the lower-level WTA event, giving the field two former top-ranked players in the world who share 20 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles.
"I was talking with Tony Godsick, Tommy Haas's agent," Winker said. "I told him about us having Venus and Lindsay and he said 'Just imagine a Venus-Lindsay final, you're going to be better than all the Slams.'"
The Cellular South Cup and the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, the long-running men's indoor pro event held concurrently at The Racquet Club, will run Feb. 22 to March 2.
Winker said Davenport, 31, is scheduled to play her first match on Monday, Feb. 25. Williams, who won last year's CSC, likely will play her opening match the following night.
Davenport, the year-end No. 1 women's player in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2005, missed the latter stages of the WTA Tour in 2006 because of a back injury and the birth of her first child. In July 2007, she announced she would return to the Tour.
Her comeback has included singles titles in Bali and Quebec City. She also reached the semifinals in Beijing. The Quebec City win, her 53rd career singles title, lifted her to No. 73 in the world rankings.
Winker said the addition of Davenport to the tournament week shows the value of a combined men's/women's event.
"You can pick off stars on either side," he said. "And every now and then you get super lucky like we have with Venus and Lindsay. We are very fortunate."
Winker said he didn't approach Davenport about playing in Memphis. He said he was contacted by Davenport's agent Friday.
"They called us," Winker said. "They asked if we would have any interest. It all happened in the last four or five days. We closed the deal two days ago."
Winker said the Memphis event could find itself in an enviable position for the next several years as players -- some returning from injury or making a comeback -- look at a tournament in the U.S. to play before upper-level tour events in Key Biscayne, Fla., and Indian Wells, Calif.
"Lindsay won a juniors event here before and we've definitely had her on our radar screen," Winker said. "But to have both Venus and Lindsay ... this is dreamworks for us."