Williams Sisters, Sharapova All Reside In Top Quarter of Miami Draw
By Richard Pagliaro
The Key Biscayne color scheme screams purple this year. The Crandon Park hard courts, home of the Sony Ericsson Open, have been resurfaced from their former green to a provocative purple. That bruising backdrop will provide an appropriate palette for the top quarter of the women's draw loaded with a trio of former top-ranked Grand Slam champions.
Top-seeded Maria Sharapova, three-time former Miami champ Venus Williams and reigning Australian Open champion Serena Williams all reside in the top quarter of the draw.
Sharapova has a first-round bye and could face Venus Williams in the third round. Unseeded Venus opens against Yuliana Fedak and would face 29th-seeded Maria Kirilenko in the second round.
The two former Wimbledon winners have not played since Venus scored a 7-6(2), 6-1, victory over Sharapova in the 2005 Wimbledon semifinals. Sharapova urged past Venus 6-4, 6-3, to advance to the 2005 Miami final.
Serena Williams, the No. 13 seed, has a first-round bye and will meet either Elena Likhovtseva or a qualifier in the second round. Should Serena advance to the fourth round she would play the winner of the Sharapova-Venus match. Serena Williams crushed the top-seeded Sharapova, 6-1, 6-2, in the Australian Open final in January. The pair faced off for the first time at the 2004 Miami event with Williams prevailing, 6-4, 6-3.
The Sony Ericsson Open championship trophy has taken up residence in the Williams sisters’ Palm Beach Gardens, Florida home in six of the last nine years as Venus took home the title in 1998, 1999 and 2000 before Serena succeeded her in claiming three straight Miami crowns (2002-2004). Sharapova has been runner-up in each of the last two years, bowing to Kim Clijsters in the 2005 final and falling to compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova in the 2006 final, 6-4, 6-3.
2 Grand Slam (Mixed Doubles) Titles
(1) Wimbledon ('98), (1) US Open ('98) (both w/ Max Mirnyi)