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tennisIlove09
Apr 19th, 2004, 08:10 PM
Williams hopes win is start of something


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Venus still trying to put recent setbacks in the past

By PATRICK OBLEY
Staff Writer

CHARLESTON — After 14 months of injuries and off the court issues, Venus Williams finally had her day.

Once she defeated Conchita Martinez 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, Williams said she realized just what she had accomplished by winning the Family Circle Cup on her first try.




“I was like, ‘Oh, that’s not bad,’ “ she said with a laugh. “It’s such a huge event and such great players. Conchita’s been in this final so many times and won it a couple of times, and you know, she’s an expert at what she does, so there are a lot of factors in there that make me feel good.”

Williams said she hoped this would be the start of another good run for her.

Williams has been struggling with an ailing ankle for several months. Also, she and her family have had a hard time dealing with the murder of sister Yetunde Price.

“It’s been really difficult for me and challenging, even this week with injuries,” she said. “It’s been really rewarding to have this title.”

Williams said she’s still not at 100 percent with her health and with her game.

“I couldn’t even name a percentage,” she said. I think there are a lot of points where I’ve played well, and there are some points I’ve played below what I’d like to be at.

“It’s just going to be very important for me to stay on an even plane and play each point very consistently and ... very Venus.”

• Schnyder-Martinez II?: Don’t expect the hard feelings between Conchita Martinez and Patty Schnyder to be resolved before next week’s Fed Cup showdown between their countries.

Schnyder on Saturday railed against Martinez’s deliberately slow play, and the way she treated the ball boys and girls. The two exchanged words in a heated debate following Martinez’s 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Martinez said she’s willing to call a truce.

“I’m open about it,” she said. “I have no hard feelings. Obviously, I don’t know what her problems were. ... We’re not best friends, but we never had a problem. I’m surprised. She’s got to live with it.”

Talking out their problems will not happen if Schnyder has her way.

“No, I don’t want to talk,” Schnyder said. “I mean, I don’t need to talk to her. I don’t need to get along or speak about what happened. She can do whatever she wants. I don’t need her.”

Because of the format and fan interaction at Fed Cup matches, Schnyder said any rematch between the two wouldn’t frustrate her as much.

“I’ll probably have a better umpire who will tell her something,” she said. “With the crowd at the Fed Cup, probably it’s easier for me because everybody is cheering and you have to wait more, anyway.”

• Christmas in April: The Family Circle Cup is known for more than its venerable history and lucrative payday.

The gifts are good, too.

In addition to $189,000, this year’s singles champion Venus Williams took home two purses, a basket of bath and body products, a portable DVD player, a watch and a white gold bracelet studded with sapphires.

Was such a batch of goodies a common occurrence on the tour?

“No, no, not at all,” Williams said. “It was very nice.”

• For Spain: Given the recent turbulent period in her homeland, Conchita Martinez said she was happy her run at the Family Circle Cup could give the people of Spain a welcome distraction.

“This world is a little bit crazy at the moment,” Martinez said, referring to the recent terrorist bombings of trains in Madrid. “What happened today in a tennis match or whatever is nothing compared to what’s happening in the world ... so yeah, I try to do my job as good as I can and hopefully the Spanish people are proud of me.”

• Winning numbers: With Sunday’s championship, Venus Williams became just the 12th player in women’s history with 30 singles titles. Next up on the list is her victim on Sunday, Conchita Martinez, who owns 32.

Martina Navratilova tops the list with 167.