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V.S.
May 13th, 2002, 04:34 PM
Women's Look Forward: Rome

Women's Look Forward: Week of May 13
Women's Look Forward: Rome


For only the second time this year, Venus and Serena Williams are in the same draw. And it isn't even a Slam.

It's perhaps a small consolation for the Italian Open, which finds itself without Martina Hingis and Monica Seles, who are stronger draws in Europe. But it's still a pretty impressive line-up; every healthy player in the Top Ten is here. The only absentees are Monica Seles (who pulled out with a stomach virus), Lindsay Davenport (still recovering from surgery) and Martina Hingis (still suffering from a damaged ligament).

It's an interesting list of absentees, because Hingis and Seles are both at their most threatening on clay. So is Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who won't be playing here either. Their absence renders the draw unusually wide-open. It is, in fact, an absolutely fascinating draw. Particularly since the courts are reported to be fairly fast this year. Let's look it over.

#1 seed Venus Williams, like all the other Top 8 seeds, gets a first round bye. In the second, she'll face either Anna Kournikova or a qualifier. Three years ago, this would have been a genuinely fascinating match-up; Kournikova was at her best on clay, and Venus her worst. Now, the real question is, can Kournikova even play well enough to get to the second round. The good news for her, of course, is that she still has nothing to defend, so losses can't hurt her.

Venus may have a more interesting time in the third round. The seed she's supposed to face is #14 Iroda Tulyaganova. Tulyaganova had two clay titles last year. This year, though, she has been struggling. And she opens against Tathiana Garbin, who doesn't have the best tools but who likes to try different things until she finds one her opponent can't answer. That's been working well for Garbin lately. In the second round, Tulyaganova will face Angeles Montolio or a qualifier. Montolio's ranking has roughly doubled in the past few months, but she also has a clay title; this is the sort of event where she can get back on track.

Next down the draw is #10 seed Meghann Shaughnessy, who is slipping fast. And while she opens against a qualifier, trouble lurks in the second round. Shaughnessy will have to face the winner of a match between Anne Kremer and Paola Suarez. Kremer hasn't really been right since her big green clay results, but she is Top 25. Suarez isn't, but that's because of injury; she's one of the best clay-courters out there. Based on results this year, both would seem to have the edge on Shaughnessy.

#5 seed Justine Henin, just off the biggest result of her career, has her own problems. She's probably played harder than ever before in her life, and her second round opponent will be tough: Either Francesca Schiavone, a good clay player who also happens to be Italian, or Fabiola Zuluaga, another good clay player though her ranking is way down due to injury. Henin is clearly better than either of them -- and better than Shaughnessy on clay -- but how much will she have left after playing fourteen sets in five days?

That particular problem may have hurt #3 seed Kim Clijsters at Berlin. But she's now had a week off. In that light, her draw looks pretty good. After her bye, she will face a qualifier or Elena Likhovtseva. Likhovtseva, after a long streak of bad results, finally did a bit better at Berlin, and if form holds, she's due for another good result or two -- but probably not that good.

If seeds held, Clijsters would face #16 Tatiana Panova in the third round. Panova might face trouble in the second, though, when she faces Henrieta Nagyova (who will start against wildcard Antonella Serra Zanetti). But Nayova also has played a lot lately (she just made the Warsaw final). This is a tough section to predict.

#9 seed Silvia Farina Elia starts against a qualifier, then another qualifier or Barbara Schett. That's an interesting match in all sorts of ways. Schett is one of the top unseeded players, and she's been playing doubles with Farina Elia. Both like clay. Schett has more power, Farina Elia is much steadier. A lot will depend on whether Schett has one of her good days.

Farina Elia is likely to face #8 Sandrine Testud in the Round of Sixteen, but Testud will have to contend with Emmanuelle Gagliardi first -- and Gagliardi is having one of her best years. She also has some resemblance to Testud, in that both sit there and slug it out, and like nothing better than to wear you down, down, down. Both like faster surfaces, too. The edge is to Testud, but it could be a fine match.

#6 seed Jelena Dokic won her first career title here; this is the event that turned her from a hovering-around-#25 player into a hovering-around-#10 player. She'd really like to do well again. It won't be easy. In the second round, she'll face either Anna Smashnova -- who has been so solid this year that she's in the Top Ten in the WTA Race -- or Adriana Serra Zanetti, who is Italian and also enjoying her best career year. After that, she'll face a rematch with #11 seed Daniela Hantuchova, who beat her at Berlin. That's if Hantuchova gets through; she'll start against Anastasia Myskina, another player who is having a hot year, then probably upset artist Magui Serna. This is truly one of the most wide-open sections in the draw.

#15 seed Tamarine Tanasugarn is one of the worst clay players in the draw. It may not matter in the first round, when she faces a qualifier. It will surely matter in the second, when she will face either Gala Leon Garcia or four-time champion Conchita Martinez. Neither of the Spaniards has been in very good form lately, so it appears that Leon Garcia actually might have a chance -- but either should have more than a chance against Tanasugarn.

The real question is, can any of them do anything with #4 seed Serena Williams? On clay, we'd choose Martinez at her peak over Serena as she is now. But Martinez isn't at her peak. It will be interesting, though, to see how Serena reacts to playing back-to-back 56-draw events. This is the heaviest schedule Serena has played in her life, and it's on her worst surface. The good news is, her opening match will be against Rita Grande (or a qualifier). Grande made the Top 25 last year, and she's Italian, but even though her game looks like it evolved for clay, her best results have been on faster surfaces and she has been in a bad slump anyway. Even though Serena has only the one clay final in her career, we'd say she's in good shape to reach the quarterfinal, and her chances for the semifinal don't look bad.

The bottom quarter, headed by #2 Jennifer Capriati and #7 Amelie Mauresmo, is full of question marks. Starting with Mauresmo's neck. She pulled out of Berlin, and it cost her her spot in the Top Ten. And she'll have a tough match in the second round -- either Nathalie Dechy, who just earned her way back into the second round, or Cristina Torrens Valero, yet another of those pesky clay-courters you really wish would play someone else. A healthy Mauresmo would brush them aside. But Mauresmo just hasn't been herself this year, and now she's hurting.

The other seed in this section, #12 Elena Dementieva, finally won a title in doubles, but she's way out of whack in singles. Luckily for her, she has a relatively easy draw. She'll open against Ai Sugiyama -- the sort of player likely to drive her nuts on any other surface, but Sugiyama, even though she relies on touch and ability to get balls back, doesn't like clay at all. After that, Dementieva would face either Magdalena Maleeva, another clay hater, or Martina Sucha, who seems to have cooled off lately. A funny little voice inside us says that Sucha has the best shot here, but rational thought says Dementieva, even in her present rather dubious form, is the clear favorite.

The next section is another really interesting one, since it contains #13 seed Patty Schnyder, the new and improved Janette Husarova, and the still-recovering but badly under-ranked Mary Pierce. Schnyder hasn't done anything since her big result at Charleston, but she's shown once again that she has the goods. She starts against Husarova, who will take advantage of any inconsistency. The winner will presumably face Pierce, who opens against a qualifier. It's another section where we wouldn't be able to guess the winner even if we were foolish enough to stick our necks out and try. Whoever comes through will almost certainly face #2 seed Jennifer Capriati, who will face a qualifier in the second round.

We can only say again what we said before: It's wide open. This is one of the toughest periods on the WTA tour: One week after a 56-draw on clay, the players face another 56-draw on clay. No other two-week period on the Tour is as wearing. If Berlin was unpredictable (and it was), Rome is even more so.

The Rankings. Rome is, of course, the last event before the Roland Garros seeds are announced, so this is big.

Had Jennifer Capriati done well enough at Berlin, she would have made #1. As it is, she's well back of Venus Williams -- but since neither has anything to defend, Capriati has a shot at passing Venus. It doesn't really matter much, though; they will be the top two seeds at Roland Garros.

It's the same in the contest for the #3 spot: It will be either Kim Clijsters or Serena Williams, with the other being #4. Clijsters has about a 90 point edge. But the winner here will almost certainly earn in excess of 400 points.

We also know who will get seeds #5-#7: Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, and Justine Henin. But not in that order. Hingis, since she isn't playing, is certain to fall to #8, and so will get the #7 seed. Henin starts 25 points behind Seles, but she's playing and Seles isn't. Henin won't have to do much to earn the #5 ranking and seed.

Jelena Dokic will be ranked #9 and will get the #8 seed.

Right now, the players in the next block, ranked #10-#13 and in line for the #9-#12 seeds, are Sandrine Testud, Amelie Mauresmo, Silvia Farina Elia, and Daniela Hantuchova. Of these, Mauresmo is in the most trouble; she has over 300 points to defend, meaning that she's barely ahead of #14 Meghann Shaughnessy in safe points. Testud is set -- indeed, she's all but guaranteed to stay in the Top 10. Farina Elia looks safe, too. But there is just a chance that Mauresmo or Hantuchova could fall out. The leading candidates to supplant them are Shaughnessy and Elena Dementieva.

The next "big spot" is the #18 ranking, good for the #16 seed. Right now, it's Iroda Tulyaganova's, but Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario has enough points to defend that it's a virtual tie. Candidates to displace them include Patty Schnyder, Anna Smashnova, Barbara Schett, Tatiana Panova, Magdalena Maleeva, Anne Kremer, and Daja Bedanova, all of whom are within 100 points of Tulyaganova.

Amanda Coetzer is currently #34, in line for the #32 seed. Coetzer has nothing to defend, but isn't playing either. That means that nearly any player who got direct entry into the draw has a chance to earn that last seed. The leading candidates: Rita Grande, Cristina Torrens Valero, Henrieta Nagyova, Martina Sucha, Magui Serna, or Janette Husarova.
_________________

V.S.
May 13th, 2002, 07:42 PM
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20020513/capt.1021315520italy_people_williams_rom128.jpg

American tennis star Venus Williams shakes hands with former Italian soccer legend and member of Parliament Gianni Rivera during a tennis exhibition in Rome's central Piazza del Popolo, Monday, May 13, 2002

V.S.
May 13th, 2002, 07:43 PM
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20020513/capt.1021315689italy_people_williams_rom126.jpg

American tennis star Venus Williams talks to a child during a tennis exhibition in Rome's central Piazza del Popolo, Monday, May 13, 2002. Williams is in Rome to participate in the Italian Open.

V.S.
May 13th, 2002, 07:44 PM
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20020513/capt.1021315875italy_people_williams_rom129.jpg

American tennis star Venus Williams returns the ball during a tennis exhibition in Rome's central Piazza del Popolo, Monday, May 13, 2002. Williams is in Rome to participate in the Italian Open tennis tournament

V.S.
May 13th, 2002, 08:30 PM
Kournikova Sets Up Clash with Venus Williams
Mon May 13, 2:17 PM ET
By Eleanor Preston

ROME (Reuters) - Anna Kournikova (news - profile - photos) set up a second round clash with world number one Venus Williams (news - web sites) at the Italian Open with a 6-3 6-3 win over Marta Marrero in her opening match in Rome.


"It's definitely never easy to play against Venus," said Kournikova, "She's obviously a very tough player. I have nothing to lose so I'm just going to go out there, try and play my best game and see how well I can do."

The win over Marrero will be a welcome boost for Kournikova. Now at a lowly 68 in the rankings, the Russian needed a wildcard to get into the main draw here and the victory over the Spaniard was only her second win in her last seven tournaments.

As one of the top eight seeds, Wimbledon (news - web sites) and U.S. Open (news - web sites) champion Williams received a bye into the second round.

Mary Pierce (news - profile - photos) clawed her way past Swiss youngster Marie-Gaiane Mikaelian to seal a place in the second round.

Pierce, despite looking unsettled and ill-at-ease for much of the match against the feisty 18-year-old, took more than two hours to eke out a 6-3 5-7 6-4 win.

The 2000 French Open (news - web sites) champion has been struggling with a stomach injury of late in addition to her chronic back problems, and has fallen as to 172 in the World Rankings.

She is only playing in the Tier 1 event thanks to protected ranking which allows players with long term injuries entry into events.

Away from the Court Centrale, day one of the women's event in Rome saw a Spanish double as Virginia Ruano Pascal and Magui Serna both scored straight sets wins.

Ruano Pascal beat her countrywoman Angeles Montolio 7-6 6-3, while Serna took care of Italian wildcard Maria Elena Camerin, 6-3 6-4. Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva stormed past Australian Open (news - web sites) quarter-finalist Martina Sucha 6-0 7-6.

The day's only upset was 10th seed Meghann Shaughnessy's loss to Sweden's Asa Svensson. Svensson secured a 6-3 6-3 victory over the American.

Two other seeds, Tatiana Panova and Iroda Tulyaganova, both came through unscathed.

Panova, seeded 16, battled past America's Jennifer Hopkins 4-6 6-4 6-0, while 14th seed Tulyaganova beat local wildcard Tathiana Garbin 6-3 6-2.

There was better news for home players when Italy's Rita Grande came back from a set and a break down to beat Czech qualifier Klara Koukalova 2-6 6-4 6-1.

moon
May 13th, 2002, 09:16 PM
awww. Venus looks so cute!

thanks for the pics VS :)

QueenO
May 13th, 2002, 10:57 PM
:)

V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 12:02 PM
Kournikova faces Venus Williams in Rome

By ANDREW DAMPF
Associated Press Writer
May 14, 2002


ROME (AP) -- Anna Kournikova tries again.

She plays Venus Williams on Tuesday in the Italian Open and has yet to beat the top-seeded American in seven matches.

``It will give me a good sense of where I am and what I have to work on,'' Kournikova said Monday after defeating Spain's Marta Marrero 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of this $1.2 million clay-court tuneup for the French Open.

For most of last year, Kournikova was sidelined with a foot injury, and the 20-year-old Russian is still trying to find her game. She lost in the first round of four straight tournaments earlier this year.

``I did play her a couple times already this year, and we had some pretty close matches,'' Kournikova said. ``So I do have a little idea how to play against her. And it's her first match here, so you never know.''

Kournikova, who has never won a professional tournament, was ranked No. 8 before she was injured in February of last year. She has since slipped to No. 68.

Williams is entering her seventh week at No. 1 and already has won four titles this year.

The top eight seeded players, including Venus's sister Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati and defending champion Jelena Dokic, had first-round byes.

Capriati, seeded second, plays Slovenia's Maja Matevzic on Tuesday.

The Williams sisters are also entered in the doubles draw, which features 45-year-old Martina Navratilova playing with Natalia Zvereva.

Another former top 10 player making her way back from injury also won Monday -- Mary Pierce defeated Switzerland's Marie-Gaiane Mikaelian 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

The Canadian-born Pierce, who lives in the United States and plays for France, used a big forehand and strong serve to overcome her otherwise erratic play and beat the 18-year-old Swiss.

Pierce's ranking has dropped to No. 172 because of injuries since her French Open victory in 2000. She was in the draw thanks to a WTA rule that helps injured players enter tournaments when they return to the tour.

The 27-year-old Pierce won the Italian Open in 1997 and was No. 3 in the world less than two years ago.

``I'm working very hard to move up in the rankings,'' she said. ``I made a lot of unforced errors today, but I'm still improving. But I feel like certain parts of my game are coming back.''

****

V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 12:04 PM
Italian Open Tuesday preview
By David Law, Tennis Radio Network
May 13, 2002


Anna Kournikova says she’s looking forward to seeing how far her game has come since the stress fracture of her foot kept her out for most of last year, and against Venus Williams, the world number one, she will find out.

Kournikova and Williams meet in the night match at the Foro Italico on Tuesday in what promises to be a fascinating encounter. If history is anything to go by, the Russian is going to have a tough time of it. She hasn’t won any of their previous seven meetings, and only taken two sets.

But her 6-3, 6-3 win over Marta Marrero, the Spaniard who reached the French Open quarterfinals two years ago, suggested that she’s moving in the right direction, and after that first round match, she talked with confidence of the task facing her.

“She (Venus) is obviously a great player, we don’t have to talk about that, but why go on court if you don’t feel or think that you can win?” said Kournikova.

“I really have nothing to lose. I’m just going to go and play my game, try to bring to life whatever I’ve been working on, and see what happens. That will give me a good sense of where I am and what I have to work on.”

With four titles to her name already this year, Williams doesn’t need to work on much at all. She isn’t at her best on clay though, and Kournikova will have few better opportunities than this.

Second seed Jennifer Capriati also begins her campaign on day two, with a first round match against Maja Matevzic. The American will hope to go a couple of steps further than in her last two clay court outings on the Sanex WTA Tour, after reaching semifinals in Charleston and Berlin.

Anna Smashnova, a semifinalist in Berlin last week, opens up play on Campo Centrale against Adriana Serra Zanetti of Italy.

On the outside courts, Pacific Life Open Indian Wells champion Daniela Hantuchova meets Anastasia Myskina, while four-time Italian Open champion Conchita Martinez faces Gala Leon Garcia.

V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 02:08 PM
:bounce: :bounce: Go Venus & Serena!!!!!!!!!!!!:bounce: :bounce:



Make the FINALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;)

V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 03:08 PM
http://eur.news1.yimg.com/eur.yimg.com/xp/ap_photo/20020513/all/l534884.jpg

V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 05:10 PM
:bounce: :bounce: Go Venus!!!!!!!!!! Beat Anna!!!!!!!!!!:bounce: :bounce:

V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 06:58 PM
:sad: :sad: Get well soon V!!!!!:sad: :sad:

V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 07:15 PM
Venus Williams pulls out of Kournikova match due to wrist injury

May 14, 2002


ROME (AP) -- Venus Williams pulled out of her match against Anna Kournikova at the Italian Open Tuesday night because of a wrist injury, with the stadium already half-full for the highly-awaited encounter.

The world's top-ranked player told the crowd she injured her right wrist while picking up her bag at practice this week. The 21-year-old American appeared on court and apologized to the crowd minutes before the match was to begin.

Williams, entering her seventh straight week at No. 1, was also entered in the doubles draw with her sister Serena Williams in this $1.22 million event.

Kournikova played Lilia Osterloh of the United States instead.

V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 07:45 PM
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V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 08:04 PM
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V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 08:20 PM
Venus Williams pulls out of match against Kournikova with wrist injury

May 14, 2002


ROME (AP) -- Venus Williams pulled out of her match against Anna Kournikova at the Italian Open Tuesday night because of a wrist injury, with the stadium already half-full for the highly-awaited encounter.

The world's top-ranked player said she injured her right wrist while picking up her bag at practice this week. The 21-year-old American appeared on court and apologized to the crowd minutes before the match was to begin.

Williams said she told the WTA about her withdrawal a half hour before the match was scheduled to start.

``It happened this week,'' Williams said at a news conference later. ``This morning in practice it hurt and then during the day it got worse with more swelling. I could have played with the pain but it did not seem correct.

``Hopefully it won't be very serious. Hopefully I'll be able to practice soon. I'm just going to take some time off and maybe finally see something in Rome.''

The injury comes at a bad time for Williams, with the French Open less than two weeks away.

``It really makes me somewhat nervous about the French, that I won't be able to play this week, that I'll have two weeks that I can't play a tournament,'' she said.

Last year, Williams pulled out of a semifinal match against her sister Serena in similar fashion at a tournament in Indian Wells, California.

Asked Tuesday if she should have announced her injury sooner, Williams replied: ``No.''

``I did notice it at the time, but then I was OK,'' she said. ``But right now, the same symptoms and same pain I had then is the same that I'm having now.''

Tournament officials released a statement saying the injury had been certified by the WTA but that the tournament doctor and a WTA trainer would re-evaluate the injury on Wednesday.

``I think I'm going to stay here and support Serena, then hopefully start practicing on clay,'' Williams said.

Williams, entering her seventh straight week at No. 1, was also entered in the doubles draw with her sister in the $1.22 million event.

The claycourt tournament is a major tuneup for Roland Garros, which begins May 27.

Lilia Osterloh of the United States took Williams' place in the draw.

V.S.
May 14th, 2002, 08:45 PM
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20020514/capt.1021407667italy_italian_open_williams_xrom128 .jpg

Venus Williams gestures as she listens to a reporters questions during a news conference held after pulling out of a match against Russia's Anna Kournikova at the women's Rome tennis Master Series in Rome's Foro Italico, Tuesday, May 14, 2002. Williams pulled out of her match because of a wrist injury, with the stadium already half-full for the highly-awaited encounter

Williams Rulez
May 15th, 2002, 11:45 AM
This is awful... :(

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 11:59 AM
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20020514/capt.1021412889italian_open_williams_xrom126.jpg

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 12:01 PM
Excert from Vee's press conference:

Q: When did you communicate this?

A: This evening, sometime before 8pm

Q: And 'til then?

A: I thought about playing or not

Q: This was an important tournament for you, also looking forward to RG and Wimby

A: [...] There are a lot of factors which can lead to a decision. Should Have I tried to play? Would have I felt worse than now? This made me nervous.

Q: Are you feeling pain in your wrist right now?

A: Yeah, I am.

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 12:46 PM
Williams' injury scare


Williams is nervous about her French Open chances

Venus Williams is set to undergo further medical tests after pulling out of the Italian Open at short notice with a wrist injury.
Williams told WTA officials she could not continue just 30 minutes before her match with Anna Kournikova was due to start.

She blamed an injury incurred while picking up her bag at the airport on Sunday.

Tour physiotherapist Philippa Stewart said the injury was proving problematic to assess.



I was not able to hit the ball without pain

Venus Williams
"We're not quite sure what the injury is at the moment," she said.

"We are going to re-evaluate her and see if we can get a more definitive diagnosis on the situation."

Williams said that she had aggravated the injury during her morning practice session for the evening clash with Kournikova.

"I was OK, but it got worse through the day," she revealed.

"My wrist swelled up during the afternoon and I was not able to hit the ball without pain."

The injury comes at a bad time for Williams, with the French Open at Roland Garros just two weeks away.

"This is making me nervous about the French Open, now that I won't be able to play any tournaments for two weeks," she said.

But Williams does intend to make the most of the enforced break.

She said: "I will take some time off and finally see something of Rome."

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 02:30 PM
Serena defeats Rita Grande 6/0 6/3!!!!!!!



:bounce: :kiss: :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: :kiss: :bounce:

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 03:41 PM
Venus Concerned Injured Wrist Will Restrict Roland Garros Preparation


Venus Williams By Richard Pagliaro
05/15/2002


The wrist-watch Venus Williams monitors is ticking the time toward the start of the French Open. With the season's second Grand Slam starting on May 27th, the top-ranked Williams is concerned that the injured right wrist which forced her withdrawal from the Italian Open yesterday will restrict her preparation for Roland Garros.



The two-time Wimbledon winner withdrew from her scheduled second-round meeting against Anna Kournikova minutes before the match was set to start citing tendinitis in her wrist. The wrist has proved problematic in the past. Williams missed the first four months of the 2000 season while suffering from tendinitis in both wrists and said the recurrence of the injury has caused concern about her health for the French Open.

"Hopefully it won't be very serious," Williams said. "Hopefully I'll be able to practice soon. It somewhat makes me nervous about the French, that I won't be able to play this week and that I'll have two weeks where I can't play a tournament."

Fans voiced their disappointment with Williams' withdrawal and Kournikova said she was surprised to suddenly learn she wouldn't play Williams. Kournikova defeated lucky loser Lilia Osterloh, who replaced Williams in the draw, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 to reach the third round.

"I found out about five minutes before we were due to play," said Kournikova. "It's a pity and it's disappointing for the fans to find out so close to the start of the match."

WTA Tour trainer Philippa Stewart, who treated Williams' wrist, said she waited until the last minute to see if her wrist would hold up to the rigors of a match before deciding to withdraw.

"There was still a possibility that she could play so she had a practice session at that time to see whether she was able to play or not," Stewart said. "She wanted to be sure, and she wanted to play."

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 04:55 PM
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Venus Williams of U.S. watches the match between her sister Serena and Rita Grande of Italy at the Rome's Italian Open May 15, 2002. Williams won 6-0 6-3.

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V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 04:56 PM
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V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 04:57 PM
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V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 04:58 PM
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V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 04:58 PM
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V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 05:08 PM
Serena Williams advances at Italian Open
By ANDREW DAMPF
Associated Press Writer
May 15, 2002


ROME (AP) -- Fourth-seeded Serena Williams beat Rita Grande of Italy 6-0, 6-3 Wednesday to advance to the third round of the Italian Open.

After facing little resistance in the opening set, Williams lost her serve in the first game of the second set. She broke in the next game and won five of the next seven games against Grande, who was urged on by the partisan crowd.

``It seems like when I go places, I always tend to play their countrymen, so I'm used to it now,'' Williams said.

Top-seeded Venus Williams withdrew minutes before her match Tuesday night against Anna Kournikova because of an injured right wrist.

In another second-round match, defending champion Jelena Dokic beat Anna Smashnova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

``It was my first win here, and to come back as a defending champion is not easy,'' the sixth-seeded Dokic said. ``I could have played better, but I'm glad I won.''

Third-seeded Kim Clijsters traded breaks with Elena Likhovtseva at the outset and advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 victory.

In other matches, Mary Pierce beat 13th-seeded Patty Schnyder 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. Sandrine Testud defeated Julia Vakulenko 6-1, 6-1, and 16th-seeded Tatiana Panova advanced when Henrieta Nagyova retired with a thigh injury while trailing 6-0, 5-2.

Later Wednesday, fifth-seeded Justine Henin was to face Francesca Schiavone. Seventh-seeded Amelie Mauresmo, beaten by Dokic in the final last year, was scheduled to play Nathalie Dechy.

Venus Williams, who appeared on court and apologized to the Foro Italico crowd, said she hurt herself picking up a bag at practice this week.

``Hopefully, it won't be very serious,'' she said. ``Hopefully, I'll be able to practice soon. I'm just going to take some time off and maybe finally see something in Rome.''

Kournikova, yet to beat Williams in seven matches, defeated Lilia Osterloh 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 to reach the third round.

``Injuries happen,'' Kournikova said. ``I just wish that we would know a little bit earlier.''

Williams, entering her seventh straight week at No. 1, also had been entered in the doubles draw at the clay-court event.

Organizers said the injury was certified by the WTA, but the tournament doctor and a WTA trainer would re-evaluate it Wednesday.

``This morning in practice it hurt and then during the day it got worse with more swelling,'' Williams said. ``I could have played with the pain, but it did not seem correct.''

The injury to Williams comes with the French Open less than two weeks away.

``It really makes me somewhat nervous about the French, that I won't be able to play this week,'' Williams said.

Last year, Williams pulled out of a semifinal against sister Serena in similar fashion at a tournament in Indian Wells, Calif.

AP Photo

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Williams said she did not feel she should have announced her injury sooner.

``I did notice it at the time, but then I was OK,'' she said. ``But right now, the same symptoms and same pain I had then is the same that I'm having now.''

Dokic criticized Williams for dropping out of the tournament.

``It was really bad to be happening at such a good tournament,'' Dokic said. ``It's so tough to so many players here. And for her to pull out of the top half there just makes things so much different.''

On Tuesday, Jennifer Capriati won her first match in Rome in nine years, routing Maja Matevzic 6-2, 6-1. Capriati lost her serve at love in the opening game, then pounded forehand winners the rest of the way.

``I thought, nine years already, it would be a miracle if I won,'' Capriati said.

Capriati had not won a match at Foro Italico since beating Amanda Coetzer in 1993. She made her Rome debut in 1990 at 14 and has not advanced past the quarterfinals.

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 05:14 PM
Clay feat

Serena continues fine run in French Open prep
Posted: Wednesday May 15, 2002 11:50 AM


ROME (Reuters) -- Fourth-seeded Serena Williams overwhelmed Italy's Rita Grande 6-0 6-3 to march into the third round of the Italian Open on Wednesday.

Last year's French Open finalist Kim Clijsters was equally authoritative in her 6-3 6-2 win over Russian Elena Likhovtseva but defending champion Jelena Dokic was below par as she beat Israel's Anna Smashnova 6-3 3-6 6-1.

Williams, who reached her first claycourt final last weekend at the German Open where she lost a thrilling three-set title match to Belgian Justine Henin, was in commanding form throughout her one hour demolition job of Grande.

While Williams dictated play with her powerful winners from the baseline, it took Grande 47 minutes to hold serve as her lightweight game totally fell apart.

Third seed Clijsters wasted little time in defeating Likhovtseva with her powerful groundstrokes.

After losing early in Berlin last week, Clijsters was looking for some match practice before the French Open gets underway on May 27.

Dokic had to battle hard to get past the resilient Israeli, who has already won two titles this year.

"It wasn't easy, especially on clay," said the sixth-seeded Yugoslav.

"She's had some good results this year. I beat her once this year but I also lost to her in Charleston so I knew what to expect.

"I could have played a few points better but overall I'm happy that I won."

Dokic, who beat France's Amelie Mauresmo in the 2001 final to take her first title, added: 'I had such a great time here last year and coming back as defending champion isn't easy.

"It's a lot to ask to win the tournament again so I'm just trying to take it one match at a time."

France's Mauresmo was in dominant form throughout her 6-1 7-5 win over compatriot Nathalie Dechy.

Mary Pierce, the 2000 Roland Garros champion, set up a third round clash with Jennifer Capriati by beating 13th seed Patty Schnyder 6-3 1-6 6-2.

Eighth seed Sandrine Testud was an emphatic 6-1 6-1 winner over qualifier Julia Vakulenko.

Russia's Tatiana Panova also advanced after her opponent Henrieta Nagyova, trailing 6-0 5-2, retired with a right thigh strain.

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 05:39 PM
Serena vs. Grande: post-match conference

Q: Did you expect a more difficult match today?

A: It has been a strange match. It was like playing at slow motion.

Q: Your opponent was italian, and the crowd cheered for her. Were you feeling like the "bad" girl?

A: Nah, I felt comfortable. At this point I'm suited to play against players who play in their homeland, I don't really pay attention to that anymore.

Q: Can you compare your actual level of play and the one in Berlin?

A: My first serve is improving, even if it's not up to my expectations yet. Maybe I was feeling too much the pressure in Berlin.

Q: How is Venus today?

A: I didn't speak with her. This morning I got out early to train.

Q: Do you think that the episode concerning Venus will be the most remembered one, even more than the winner of the tournament?

A: I don't think so. There are still good players around like Jennifer.

Q: Are you comfortable with this kind of clay?

A: Yeah, I like sliding.

Q: Did you set particular objectives for the next few months

A: I always set up my goals at the beginning of the season, but it's personal stuff and I don't like to reveal them.

Q: Today Dokic criticized the way Venus decided to handle her withdrawal

A: I don't know anything about it, don't know what she said. I don't read newspapers a lot, so I can't really say anything about it.

Q: You, Dokic, Jennifer; do you see any other player capable of winning the trophy?

A: I'm confident of my possibilities, I stay focused and play one match at time. We are on the same side of the draw. We'll see how it goes.

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 06:25 PM
:bounce: :bounce: Go Baby Girl!!!! Steamroll Chladkova!!!!!!:bounce: :bounce:

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 06:26 PM
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V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 06:27 PM
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Serena Williams waves to her fans after she defeated Italy's Rita Grande during the third day of the women's Rome tennis Master Series at Rome's Foro Italico, Wednesday, May 15, 2002. Fourth-seeded Williams beat Rita Grande of Italy 6-0, 6-3 to advance to the third round of the Italian Open

V.S.
May 15th, 2002, 08:33 PM
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Denisa Chladkova (CZE)
1998-03-16 Key Biscayne Hardcourt R128 Serena Williams (USA) 6-4 6-0
2000-02-14 Hannover Indoor Hardcourt F Serena Williams (USA) 6-1 6-1
2001-08-27 U.S. Open Hardcourt R64 Serena Williams (USA) 6-1 6-1

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 12:07 PM
Venus Williams doubtful for Roland-Garros
Eric Salliot
Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Venus Williams was forced to withdraw from the Rome tournament just a few minutes after coming onto court to face Anna Kournikova. The American is currently suffering from a pain in her right wrist, caused when lifting a sack. "I don't want to take the slightest risk before Roland-Garros" she was quoted as saying.

"I don't think it's very serious, even though it is preventing me from playing at all. But it's a touch worrying to be heading for Paris without having played in official competition for two weeks", the world no. 1 confided.

But why was she not on the roster for Strasbourg next week? The tournament's new assistant director Nathalie Tauziat would have undoubtedly been delighted to grant her a wild card.

Meanwhile, Venus will be undergoing further tests to discover the precise nature of her injury. Considering she had been keen to gain more match experience on clay to prepare for Roland-Garros more effectively than in previous seasons, she must be greatly frustrated by this setback.

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 12:08 PM
Italian Open Thursday Preview
By David Law
May 15, 2002


It isn't every day that the previous two year's French Open winners meet in a third round match, so fans at the Italian Open on Thursday can count themselves lucky. Mary Pierce, the French Open champion in 2000, and Jennifer Capriati, the defending champion, will go head to head in what is sure to be a heavy hitting contest at the Foro Italico.

History and form suggest that Capriati is a strong favorite. The American has never lost to Pierce in their previous two meetings, and while the French woman has struggled with injuries for much of the past 18 months, Capriati has won almost everything in site.

'To play anybody at the top is great for me because, first of all, those are the exciting matches to me,'said Pierce, who was full of praise for her opponent's achievements.

'I'm really proud of her and very happy for her. It's just great to see how well she's doing, coming back after everything she's been through and overcome in her life. It's a great opportunity for me to have a great match and have a lot of fun against a top player'

The last time they met, the world was a very different place. That came nine years ago when both players were teenagers, but this encounter promises to be no less exciting. Pierce got some vital match practice under her belt in a three set win over Patty Schnyder on Wednesday and Capriati has only won one match here in nine years.

Also in third round action on Thursday, third seed Kim Clijsters meets Tatiana Panova, Serena Williams faces Denisa Chladkova, and Justine Henin takes on Anne Kremer.

They are joined in an all-star cast by Anna Kounikova, Jelena Dokic and Amelie Mauresmo.

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 12:11 PM
Serena defeats Chladkova 6/1 6/2!!!!!!!


:bounce: :bounce: :bounce: :kiss: :kiss: :bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 12:12 PM
http://www.venusserenafans.com/Forums/uploads/EURO.jpg

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 02:15 PM
http://imgfarm.com/images/ap/ITALY_TENNIS.sff_XROM104_20020516092731.jpg

American Venus Williams serves the ball to Czech Republic's Denisa Chladkova during the fourth day of the women's Rome Master Series at Rome's Foro Italico, Thursday, May 16, 2002

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 02:16 PM
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American tennis star Venus Williams returns the ball to Czech Republic's Denisa Chladkova during the fourth day of the women's Rome Master Series at Rome's Foro Italico, Thursday, May 16, 2002.

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 02:29 PM
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Serena Williams of U.S. returns a backhand shot to Czech Republic's Denisa Chladkova during their match at the Rome's Italian Open May 16, 2002. Williams won 6-1 6-2.

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 02:30 PM
http://www.sports.com/tennis/pictures/MDF82947.jpg

Serena Williams of U.S. returns a forehand shot to Czech Republic's Denisa Chladkova during their match at the Rome's Italian Open May 16, 2002. Williams won 6-1 6-2.

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 02:31 PM
http://www.sports.com/tennis/pictures/MDF82949.jpg

Serena Williams of U.S. celebrates after defeating Czech Republic's Denisa Chladkova during their match at the Rome's Italian Open May 16, 2002. Williams won 6-1 6-2.

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 02:33 PM
http://www.sports.com/tennis/news/2002/05/16/sLON01MTAyMTU1ODA1NTE.jpg

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 03:42 PM
Serena Williams Advances to QF

ROME (AP) -- Fourth-seeded Serena Williams beat Denisa Chladkova 6-1, 6-2 Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Italian Open.

Williams used her strong serve and groundstrokes to overpower Chladkova, running down nearly all of her opponent's shots in her gold sneakers.

The 20-year-old Williams reached the quarterfinals for the third time in three attempts.

``I served better today, so I'm happy,'' Williams said.

Fifth-seeded Justine Henin advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Anne Kremer.

Henin, who beat Williams in the final of the German Open last week, forced Kremer into numerous errors after long rallies.

Mary Pierce, returning from injuries, will find out where her game stands among the tennis elite Thursday when she plays Jennifer Capriati.

``I feel that my game is getting better and better every match I play,'' Pierce said Wednesday after defeating Switzerland's Patty Schnyder 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 in the second round at Foro Italico.

Pierce missed most of last year's tournaments because of injuries to her ankles and her spine. As a result, the Frenchwoman's ranking plunged from No. 7 in 2000 -- when she won the French Open for her second Grand Slam title -- to 130th at the end of last year.

Before Rome, Pierce played four tournaments this year. Her best result came on clay at Charleston, S.C., where she reached the third round and lost to Schnyder.

But Capriati, ranked No. 2 in the world, poses her toughest test yet.

``To play anyone at the top is great because those are the matches that are so exciting for me, to see where I am and play against the top players that I haven't played against in a while,'' Pierce said.

The Italian Open is a major tuneup for the French Open. Pierce has a wild card for this month's event at Roland Garros, which was won by Capriati last year.

Capriati cruised through her second-round match Tuesday, beating Maja Matevzic 6-2, 6-1. She became the tournament favorite after top-ranked
Venus Williams withdrew because of a wrist injury.

On Wednesday, defending champion Jelena Dokic, seeded No. 6, beat Anna Smashnova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1; and No. 3 Kim Clijsters downed Elena Likhovtseva 6-3, 6-2.

On Thursday, Dokic plays Anastasia Myskina while Clijsters meets Tatiana Panova, who qualified after Henrieta Nagyova retired with a thigh injury.
_________________

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 03:51 PM
http://www.sanexwta.com/assets/story_image/SerenaPress051602.jpg

(Italian Open-Rome) Serena Williams talks about her chances of winning the tournament

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 04:55 PM
Tennis-Serena backs Venus in French Open fitness battle


ROME, May 16 (Reuters) - Serena Williams thinks that her elder sister Venus will be fit for the French Open, which starts in Paris on May 27.

Venus was forced to pull out of her Italian Open second-round match with Anna Kournikova on Tuesday night after hurting her right wrist.

"I don't think she's going to miss the French -- she's a fighter," Serena said after crushing Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual to make the quarter-finals in Rome.

But Serena did admit there was still some doubt over her sister's fitness.

"She's seeing some different doctors so we can all keep out fingers crossed and hope she's doing well," she added.

Venus is currently undergoing treatment with an orthopaedist after receiving treatment in recent days from her personal physiotherapist.

The world number one injured her wrist while picking up luggage on Sunday but did not have it examined until Tuesday evening, barely an hour-and-a-half before she was due on court.

She pulled out of the tournament only minutes before the start of her match.

Serena also had some words of comfort for rival Martina Hingis. The 21-year-old is currently undergoing tests after doctors suspected she may have joint damage and will almost certainly miss the French Open.

Williams said she had been unaware that Hingis was injured.

"I hadn't really heard much about it -- I hope she's doing better because she's never really missed a slam before," said Williams.

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 05:08 PM
Venus Declines Tests On Mystery Injury
Courier Mail


ROME: World No.1 Venus Williams, who withdrew at half- an-hour's notice on Tuesday from the Italian Open here, has declined further tests on the mystery injury that forced her to pull out.

Top-seed Venus had informed organisers just half-an- hour before her showpiece match with Anna Kournikova of Russia was due to start that she had aggravated a wrist injury sustained picking up a bag.

On Tuesday her injury was examined by medical staff who failed to make a diagnosis but promised further tests.

But tournament organisers announced that the American had declined any further examination.

"Following the injury to the right wrist that caused her to withdraw before the evening match with Anna Kournikova, Venus Williams did not request today an examination either from WTA physiotherapist Philippa Stewart or tournament doctor Enrica Pastore," read the short statement.

On Tuesday night Stewart said she had not yet established the nature of the injury.

Asked what the problem was, Stewart said: "Actually we're not quite sure at the moment. After I saw her we referred her to the tournament doctor (Enrica Pastore) to evaluate her.

"We are going to re-evaluate her tomorrow (Wednesday) and we're going to see if we can get a more definitive diagnosis on the situation."

The injury to Williams meant that tournament organisers had to hastily find an opponent for Kournikova and American Lilia Osterloh, who was warming up for a doubles match, was quickly recruited as a lucky loser, losing 6-1 4-6, 6-1 to the Russian in a second-round match.

Former Italian tennis favourite Adriano Panatta, the tournament director, went to the ticket office to tell customers arriving at the Foro Italico that Williams would not be playing in the match, which was scheduled in a prime time television slot.

Williams told journalists that she had aggravated an injury sustained picking up her bag at the airport two days previously.

"I hit this morning," said Williams after announcing her withdrawal. "I was OK but through the day it got worse with more swelling during the afternoon and I was not able to hit without pain."

Asked when she had told organisers, who had scheduled the match for 8.30pm, she said: "This evening. About eight (o'clock)."

Williams said she did not think the injury was serious, saying: "I hope it won't be serious. I will take some time off and finally see something in Rome."

The American did not say whether she would have a scan on the injury, saying: "I don't know."

Asked whether she should have given the press and organisers more notice she stared at the journalist and said: "No."

She maintained she had wanted to compete in Rome, saying: "Every tournament is important. If I had done well here I would have solidified my No.1 ranking."

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 06:19 PM
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Serena Williams reaches the Rome quarters for the third time

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 06:21 PM
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Serena Williams is looking strong going into the French Open

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 06:42 PM
Serena Crushes Chladkova To Reach Rome Quarterfinals


Serena Williams By Richard Pagliaro
05/16/2002

The vivid visualizations of victory that Serena Williams views prior to each match have served as scripts for the one-sided stories she stars in on the court. Today, Williams was a picture of power in crushing Denisa Chladkova to reach the Italian Open quarterfinals in Rome.

"Right now, I'm feeling pretty good," Williams said. "I played really well today and I played well yesterday and I'm happy to be through to the quarters."

The 1999 U.S. Open champion may be the most talented player on the WTA Tour, but playing a limited schedule has prevented her ranking from rising above No. 4. Williams insists the lack of consistent match play has little impact on her results — or her expectations of victory every time she steps on the court.

"I don't think I'm short on matches right now," Williams said. "I'm never really short on matches. I can take a three-month break and win a tournament so it doesn't really matter. I'm a top player so I never see myself losing early or even late."

Williams was runner-up to Justine Henin in Sunday's German Open final. Henin joined Williams in the quarterfinals today with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Anne Kremer. Amelie Mauresmo, the 2001 tournament runner-up, also reached the quarterfinals, overwhelming Ai Sugiyama, 6-0, 6-2.

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 07:45 PM
Good luck against Myskina Serena!!!!!!!!!!! :wavey: :wavey:

V.S.
May 16th, 2002, 07:56 PM
No sweat

Serena, Henin win easily in Rome; Kournikova ousted
Posted: Thursday May 16, 2002 1:05 PM
Updated: Thursday May 16, 2002 1:49 PM

Serena Williams is looking strong going into the French Open. AP

ROME (AP) -- Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo won easily Thursday to reach the quarterfinals in the $1.22 million Italian Open.

Williams, the No. 4 seed, beat the Czech Republic's Denisa Chladkova 6-1, 6-2 on a warm and muggy day at the Foro Italico.

The 20-year-old American used her strong serve and heavy groundstrokes to overpower her 105th-ranked opponent, running down nearly all of the Czech player's shots in her gold-colored sneakers. Williams reached the quarterfinals in Rome for the third time in three attempts, having never advanced to the semifinals.

"I served better today, so I'm happy," Williams said.

Williams' older sister Venus pulled out of the tournament on Tuesday with a wrist injury, but Williams said her top-ranked sister would probably return to the court soon.

"I don't think she's going to miss the French [Open]," Williams said of the year's second Grand Slam tournament, which begins May 27.

The fifth-seeded Henin, playing the Italian Open for the first time, defeated Luxembourg's Anne Kremer 6-2, 6-4.

The Belgian player, who beat Williams to win her first title of the year in last week's German Open, used her well-regarded one-handed backhand to maximum effect, forcing her opponent into numerous errors after long rallies on the slow surface.

Mauresmo, the No. 7 seed from France, trounced Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-0, 6-2.

Also, Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual ousted Anna Kournikova 6-3, 6-2. The Russian star said she was suffering from a groin injury.

Later Thursday, four other seeded players were to play third-round matches, including second-seeded Jennifer Capriati.

The 26-year-old American takes on unseeded Mary Pierce at night in a matchup of the last two French Open champions.

Pierce is still trying to regain her form after a series of injuries suffered since winning at Roland Garros two years ago.

"I feel that my game is getting better and better every match I play," Pierce said Wednesday after defeating Switzerland's Patty Schnyder 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

Pierce missed most of last year because of injuries to her ankles and her spine. As a result, the Frenchwoman's ranking plunged from No. 7 in 2000 -- when she won the French Open for her second Grand Slam title -- to 130th at the end of last year.

Before Rome, Pierce played four tournaments this year. Her best result came on clay at Charleston, S.C., where she reached the third round and lost to Schnyder.

But Capriati, ranked No. 2 in the world, poses her toughest test yet.

"To play anyone at the top is great because those are the matches that are so exciting for me, to see where I am and play against the top players that I haven't played against in a while," Pierce said.

The Italian Open is a major tuneup for the French Open and Pierce has a wild card for this month's event at Roland Garros.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:26 PM
Capriati and Serena Williams set up all-American semifinal clash
Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2002-05-17


ROME (AP) -- Jennifer Capriati is feeling great ahead of her all-American semifinal match against Serena Williams at the Italian Open on Saturday.
That's because on Friday she wrested the world No. 1 ranking from Williams' sister, Venus, by winning against France's Amelie Mauresmo in the quarterfinals at the Foro Italico.

``That's great. Of course I'm happy about it,'' the 26-year-old Capriati said. ``It means going into the French (Open) being No. 1.''

Capriati will be defending the title she won last year when the Grand Slam event gets underway at Paris' Roland Garros on May 27.

``At least one American will be going into the final,'' Williams said after beating Anastasia Myskina 6-2, 6-4 in her quarterfinal match.

The fourth-seeded Williams was both more consistent and more powerful than the 30th-ranked Myskina.

``I haven't really had a chance to think about it. So I will just have to talk about it with my mom,'' said Williams, when asked what her approach against Capriati would be.

The younger Williams and Capriati have played each other eight times before -- each beating the other four times.

But the last three victories -- including two this year in Scottsdale and in Miami -- have been Williams', albeit on hard court surfaces.

Earlier Friday, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin set up an all-Belgian clash for the other semifinal.

Clijsters defeated France's Sandrine Testud 6-1, 6-3 and Henin beat Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-3, 6-4.

On Saturday, the two teen-agers will meet for the third time this year. Clijsters won both previous meetings, including a quarterfinal match in the Australian Open.

``I haven't played her in a while,'' said Clijsters, the 18-year-old third seed. ``She's obviously playing well. I'm proud to be in the semifinals playing against her.''

The 19-year-old Henin, who is seeded No. 5 in Rome, last week won the German Open, beating Capriati in the semifinals and Williams in the finals.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:30 PM
Serena sees off Capriati to face Henin
May 18, 2002

Serena Williams edged fellow American Jennifer Capriati 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in the semi-final of the Tennis Masters Series tournament in Rome on Saturday, booking a meeting in Sunday's final with Belgium's Justine Henin.

Serena thus gets an early chance of revenge against Henin who defeated her in a third-set tie-break in the final of last week's Berlin Open.

In an absorbing contest, fourth-seed Williams raced to the first set only for second-ranked Capriati to hit back to take the second.

The New Yorker, who will return to the world number one spot at the expense of Serena's sister Venus when the new WTA rankings are unveiled Monday, took what looked to be a decisive 3-0 lead in the decider.

But Williams saved three break points to prevent Capriati moving 4-0 up and then won the next four games to lead 4-3.

Capriati, the reigning French and Australian Open champion, broke back and held her own serve to lead 5-4 only for Serena to square it up again.

But 26-year-old Capriati then lost her serve again on a double fault and Serena served out to clinch a hard-won victory on the red clay at the Foro Italico.

Both Henin and Williams carry injuries into Sunday's matches with both finishing their matches with heavily-strapped right thighs.

Henin had earlier produced a compelling performance against her childhood friend and fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters, winning 7-5, 6-2.

Both players showed frailty on their own service in the first set with four consecutive breaks at one point.

But Henin, who had struggled to cope with Clijsters' power game in the opening stages, gradually began to find her range and at 6-5 took the first set, converting the second of two set points when third seed Clijsters, who later complained of shoulder pains, netted with an unforced error.

The first set had lasted exactly an hour and fifth seed Henin, who has struggled with a leg injury for most of the week, had five minutes of physiotherapy before the start of the second.

Henin said the injury should be OK for Sunday's final, saying: 'It was on the serve I could feel it.'

The early stages of the second set were also evenly poised but 19-year-old Henin broke through in game five against her 18-year-old compatriot and repeated the feat in the seventh game to serve for the match at 5-2.

Henin clinched victory on her second match point as Clijsters hit her shot long to set up Henin's second consecutive final appearance.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:31 PM
Henin, Serena to square off in Rome final
May 18, 2002

ROME -- Serena Williams spoiled Jennifer Capriati's return to the No. 1 ranking in the world Saturday, winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 to reach the final of the Italian Open.

Williams will play Justine Henin in Sunday's final, a rematch of last week's German Open championship, won by Henin in a third-set tiebreaker.

Henin defeated fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters 7-5, 6-2 in the day's first semifinal.

Capriati, returned to No. 1 ahead of Venus Williams by advancing to the semifinals, squandered a 3-0 lead in the deciding set.

Williams then served for the match when Capriati double-faulted on break point at 5-5. Williams closed out the match by backing up a strong serve with a fierce approach shot for a winner.

"It was a little tough today, I'm just glad I was able to come through," Williams said. "I'm excited to be in the final."


Justine Henin will get her shot at the title in Rome.(AP)

Serena's sister, Venus, pulled out of the event with a wrist injury.

Henin, 19, broke the 18-year-old Clijsters when she was serving for the first set at 5-3. Henin broke again to go up 6-5 and then held to close out the set.

Henin also won the last five games of the second set to even the series record between the two Belgians at 4-4.

Clijsters, the No. 3 seed, won the last two matches against Henin - both on hardcourts.

"Until 5-5 in the first set, I felt like I was dominating all of the points," Clijsters said.

"But Justine fights for every ball and she defends really well. When you play her -- especially on clay -- the ball keeps going back a few more times."

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:36 PM
Serena Interview after defeating Capriati

It's the fourth time in a row that you defeated Jennifer now. Are you particularly satisfied with this win?

Yes, but other victories also gave me a lot of satisfaction, like Nasdaq in Miami or Canada.

Does your leg hurt?

It's nothing serious. I had to work very hard, especially cause you have to slide on the clay. I think I'm just weary.

Did it begin to hurt at 3-2 in the third set?
I felt the pain when I was sliding to get to some wide shots, it was bothering me. So I decided it would be better to have it treated.

Justine also has an injury. Do you think the conditions here have anything to do with it?

She has also played a lot. It's difficult. You have to play so many matches to maintain your ranking. For example I'm always playing, and I'm always number four. And I have to continue to play to win points. It's important to keep working hard.

Do you think you saved the match in the fourth game of the third set?

Yes, that was crucial. But that wasn't the only time. Like in the second set when I lost my serve and then I didn't succeed to convert any breakpoint. But she pushed me to the extreme and so there was a third set.

Do you think your injury will allow you to play at your best tomorrow?

I have to be at my best, I'm a fighter and I can't immagine not to be able to play my game. It will be another match than Berlin, I hope the result will be different.

Do you think this is your best season on clay?

Looking at my results yes. But I also think I played well last year. Like last year at Roland Garros against Sanchez. I played well last year, but this year the results are better. I can't wait till Roland Garros starts.

Did you enjoy the match today?

Yes, it was almost like a real boxing match. I hope tomorrow will also be a match like that, because I really like these tough matches. I'm satisfied I won while I didn't play my maximum. I hope it will a match like this: I like this tough competition.

Aren't you worried, seeing these results, Venus will want to come back sooner?

At the moment I'm trying to take advantage to narrow the gap there still is between us. But she works very hard and I maybe a bit less.

When you see Henin, who's so small and slight, in front of you, or Venus, Jennifer, you're all a lot taller. Aren't you amazed she can play with so much power?

It's true. But she get's so much power out of her legs, like in her match against Venus. Justine doesn't only use her arms. And her service is technically very good.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:37 PM
Serena Edges Capriati To Reach Rome Final
By Richard Pagliaro
05/18/2002


Jennifer Capriati reclaimed the No. 1 ranking from Venus Williams by virtue of her quarterfinal victory at the Italian Open yesterday. Today, the new No. 1 was second to one as Serena Williams edged Capriati 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 to reach the Italian Open final.




The fourth-seeded Williams will play fifth-seeded Justine Henin — a 7-5, 6-2 victor over compatriot Kim Clijsters in an all-Belgian semifinal — in tomorrow's final. The match is a rematch of the German Open final last Sunday, which Henin won 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5).

"I'll be playing Justine again and I'm really excited," Williams said. "Maybe this time I can get a win."

In a hard-hitting match featuring gritty baseline play from both players, Williams registered her third consecutive win of the season over Capriati. She beat the two-time Australian champion in Scottsdale and in the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open.

Facing a 0-3 deficit in the decisive set, Williams fought off break points before holding. She eventually evened the set 5-5 and broke Capriati in the 11th game before serving out the two hour, 15-minute match in the next game.

"It was a little tough," Williams said. "I'm just glad I got through it."

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:41 PM
Serena fan arrested in Rome
From correspondents in Rome
19may02

A GERMAN man reportedly obsessed with star tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams was arrested as he attempted to watch Serena in action, ANSA news agency reported today.

The man from Bremen, identified by the initials A.S. and aged 34, was spotted by security staff who had been shown photos of a man identified as a pest to the American players.

For a year the man has been sending e-mails to Serena asking to meet her and kiss her and has followed her to two tournaments in the United States as well as attending the Berlin Open last week where he was also prevented from talking to the sisters.

He was arrested and taken to a police station to be formally identified.

No charges have been laid.

Serena Williams beat fellow American Jennifer Capriati in the semifinals of the Italian Open here today to secure a place in the final against Belgium's Justine Henin.



_________________

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:43 PM
Italian Open Final Preview
By David Law
May 18, 2002


Serena Williams vs. Justin Henin in a big final. If you're wondering whether we've been here before, that's because we have. Last Sunday, in the final in Berlin, Williams and Henin fought out one of the matches of the year, and the Italian Open final promises to be much the same.

Williams' road to the final started out easier enough, her first three matches going smoothly in straight sets, but then she ran into Jennifer Capriati, a player it seems she simply cannot play an easy matches against.

Williams won that one in three sets, clawing back a 0-3 deficit in the decider despite needing treatment to a leg injury, and she enjoyed the scrap.

"I like to fight" she said. "I love going out there and fighting and I'm just really glad I was able to come through, because I was not feeling the best."

She vowed to play through the pain barrier in the final, and paid tribute to Henin, who beat her in that Berlin final.

"I think she has a lot of hidden strength, and she uses her legs a lot," said Williams. "Tennis isn't all about the arm, because eventually your arm will wear out. If you use your legs, which are bigger, then you'll be able to get more power on the ball. I think that's why she is able to hit so hard and do so well."

Henin had the difficult task of beating her friend and compatriot Kim Clijsters in the semifinals, and hopes to feed off the memories of that win last week in order to defeat Williams once more. It was her first win over the American in three attempts, but if she gets that backhand going, she could do it all over again.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:44 PM
Henin and Serena to dispute Rome final
It seems that thigh injuries are a current antidote for success after both Justine Henin and Serena Williams triumphed in their semi-final matches despite carrying slight injuries. Henin overcame Kim Clijsters 7-5 6-2 while Serena Williams battled back to dispatch of Jennifer Capriati 6-2 3-6 7-5.

"I'll be playing Justine again and I'm really excited," said Williams. "Maybe this time I can get a win." Henin beat Serena in the Belgian Open final last week.

Williams had to battle for two hours and 15 minutes to get past Capriati, who reclaimed the world number one spot from Venus Williams on Friday. Capriati fought back after Williams powered through the first set and, having levelled the match, she looked the more likely winner in the early stages of the decider.

The turning point came when Williams saved breakpoints at 0-3 down and broke back in the next game, but even then the drama was not over. Breaks were exchanged again before Capriati finally succumbed once more at 5-5 and Williams served out the match.

"It was a little tough," said Williams afterwards. "I'm just glad I got through it."

Williams took an off-court injury break at 2-3 in the third set and returned with her right thigh heavily strapped, but she insisted the injury is not serious. "It comes from playing a lot of matches on clay," she said. "That's very hard on the muscles."

Henin won the battle of the Belgians, beating friend and compatriot Kim Clijsters 7-5 6-2 to earn a place in her second successive final. Although both players showed signs of nerves, Henin won the crucial points by going for her shots from the baseline.

After rattling off four games in a row to take first set from 5-3 down, last year's Wimbledon finalist went on to dominate third seed Clijsters in the second. "The beginning was hard because she was playing very well," said Henin. "By the end I was playing with confidence and I didn't miss anything."

Clijsters said she was happy with her week's work and her preparations for the French Open, which starts a week on Monday. "The first set could have gone either way but Justine fights for every ball and she defends very well," said Clijsters. "When you play her, especially on clay, the ball just keeps coming back."

The win allowed Henin to gain revenge for her defeat to Clijsters in the Roland Garros semifinals last year.
_________________

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:45 PM
Henin and Serena to dispute Rome final

It seems that thigh injuries are a current antidote for success after both Justine Henin and Serena Williams triumphed in their semi-final matches despite carrying slight injuries. Henin overcame Kim Clijsters 7-5 6-2 while Serena Williams battled back to dispatch of Jennifer Capriati 6-2 3-6 7-5.

"I'll be playing Justine again and I'm really excited," said Williams. "Maybe this time I can get a win." Henin beat Serena in the Belgian Open final last week.

Williams had to battle for two hours and 15 minutes to get past Capriati, who reclaimed the world number one spot from Venus Williams on Friday. Capriati fought back after Williams powered through the first set and, having levelled the match, she looked the more likely winner in the early stages of the decider.

The turning point came when Williams saved breakpoints at 0-3 down and broke back in the next game, but even then the drama was not over. Breaks were exchanged again before Capriati finally succumbed once more at 5-5 and Williams served out the match.

"It was a little tough," said Williams afterwards. "I'm just glad I got through it."

Williams took an off-court injury break at 2-3 in the third set and returned with her right thigh heavily strapped, but she insisted the injury is not serious. "It comes from playing a lot of matches on clay," she said. "That's very hard on the muscles."

Henin won the battle of the Belgians, beating friend and compatriot Kim Clijsters 7-5 6-2 to earn a place in her second successive final. Although both players showed signs of nerves, Henin won the crucial points by going for her shots from the baseline.

After rattling off four games in a row to take first set from 5-3 down, last year's Wimbledon finalist went on to dominate third seed Clijsters in the second. "The beginning was hard because she was playing very well," said Henin. "By the end I was playing with confidence and I didn't miss anything."

Clijsters said she was happy with her week's work and her preparations for the French Open, which starts a week on Monday. "The first set could have gone either way but Justine fights for every ball and she defends very well," said Clijsters. "When you play her, especially on clay, the ball just keeps coming back."

The win allowed Henin to gain revenge for her defeat to Clijsters in the Roland Garros semifinals last year.
_________________

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:46 PM
Serena says ciao to Capriati at Italian Open

Serena's win earns her a spot in the finals on Sunday when she takes on Justine Henin of Belgium.

(posted May. 18, 2:21PM EDT)
ROME -- Serena Williams spoiled fellow American Jennifer Capriati's return to the No. 1 ranking in the world Saturday, winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 to reach the final of the Italian Open.

Tennis results

Williams will play Justine Henin of Belgium in Sunday's final, a rematch of last week's German Open championship, won by Henin in a third-set tiebreaker.

Henin defeated fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters 7-5, 6-2 in the day's first semifinal.

Capriati, returned to No. 1 ahead of Venus Williams by advancing to the semifinals, squandered a 3-0 lead in the deciding set.

Williams then served for the match when Capriati double-faulted on break point at 5-5. Williams closed out the match by backing up a strong serve with a fierce approach shot for a winner.

“It was a little tough today, I'm just glad I was able to come through,” Williams said. “I'm excited to be in the final.”

Serena's sister, Venus, pulled out of the event with a wrist injury.

Henin, 19, broke the 18-year-old Clijsters when she was serving for the first set at 5-3. Henin broke again to go up 6-5 and then held to close out the set.

Henin also won the last five games of the second set to even the series record between the two Belgians at 4-4.

Clijsters, the No. 3 seed, won the last two matches against Henin -- both on hardcourts.

“Until 5-5 in the first set, I felt like I was dominating all of the points,” Clijsters said.

“But Justine fights for every ball and she defends really well. When you play her -- especially on clay -- the ball keeps going back a few more times.”

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:49 PM
Serena vs. Henin
Serena leads 2-1
Henin leads 1-0 on clay

2001-08-27 U.S. Open Hardcourt R16 Serena Williams (USA) 7-5 6-0
2001-10-29 Sanex Championships Indoor Hardcourt QF Serena Williams (USA) 6-3 7-6(5)
2002-05-06 Berlin Clay F Justine Henin (BEL) 6-2 1-6 7-6(5)

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:52 PM
Serena Williams beats Henin to win Italian Open
May 19, 2002 11:49 AM (EDT) Email this Story

By ANDREW DAMPF
ROME (AP) - Serena Williams beat Justine Henin 7-6 (6), 6-4 Sunday in the final of the Italian Open.

One week after losing to Henin in the final of the German Open, Williams won a first-set tiebreaker and closed out the match with two breaks in the second set on an overcast day at the Foro Italico.

Williams appeared to twist her ankle in the first set, but recovered to overpower the fifth-seeded Henin.

"It was a tough win," Williams said, before adding in Italian, "Rome is in my heart."

Williams, who failed in two previous attempts to reach the quarterfinals in Rome, won her third tournament of the year.


"Serena was too strong today," Henin said.

Henin reached the final by beating fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters in straight sets on Saturday. Williams defeated second-seeded Jennifer Capriati in three sets in the other semifinal.

Williams is ranked a career-best No. 3, and trails only her sister, Venus Williams, and Capriati.

Capriati regained the top ranking this week when Venus Williams withdrew with a wrist injury.

Henin, who had not lost a set in four previous matches in the warmup for the French Open, moved up to No. 5 in the rankings.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:52 PM
Serena Williams beats Henin to win Italian Open


By ANDREW DAMPF
.c The Associated Press

ROME (AP) - Serena Williams beat Justine Henin 7-6 (6), 6-4 Sunday in the final of the Italian Open.

One week after losing to Henin in the final of the German Open, Williams won a first-set tiebreaker and closed out the match with two breaks in the second set on an overcast day at the Foro Italico.

Williams appeared to twist her ankle in the first set, but recovered to overpower the fifth-seeded Henin.

``It was a tough win,'' Williams said, before adding in Italian, ``Rome is in my heart.''

Williams, who failed in two previous attempts to reach the quarterfinals in Rome, won her third tournament of the year.

``Serena was too strong today,'' Henin said.

Henin reached the final by beating fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters in straight sets on Saturday. Williams defeated second-seeded Jennifer Capriati in three sets in the other semifinal.

Williams is ranked a career-best No. 3, and trails only her sister, Venus Williams, and Capriati.

Capriati regained the top ranking this week when Venus Williams withdrew with a wrist injury.

Henin, who had not lost a set in four previous matches in the warmup for the French Open, moved up to No. 5 in the rankings.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:55 PM
Sunday, 19 May, 2002, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Williams takes revenge on Henin


Williams overcame injury to lift the trophy

Serena Williams exacted sweet revenge over Justine Henin as she beat the Belgian in two tight sets to win the Rome Masters.
Henin had last week beaten the American in the Berlin final, but the tables were turned at the Foro Italico as Williams prevailed 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.

"It was a tough win," Williams said, before adding in Italian, "Rome is in my heart."

The early games went with serve, with the first notable incident coming in game seven at deuce.

Williams, who already had a heavily strapped right thigh, pulled up in pain as she turned after playing a backhand and needed five minutes of on-court treatment on her right ankle.


Henin visibly wilted in the second set

But when she resumed she seemed unaffected and the tightly-contested set continued with Williams attacking and Henin producing some outstanding defence.

At 5-4 Henin finally faltered, going down to 0-40 with Williams looking poised to claim the set.

However, the feisty 19-year-old saved all of them to level and the set duly went to a tie-break.

The American quickly took a 6-4 lead in the tie-break but Henin, who herself had a heavily-bandaged left leg, saved both set points, the second with a brilliant backhand pass.

But Williams, watched by mother Oracene and sister Venus who pulled out of this tournament at short notice on Tuesday, finally wrapped up the set in 69 minutes with her sixth set point and third in the tie-break.

Squandered

The early stages of the second set were also fairly even but in game seven Henin appeared to wilt.

At 15-40 she saved two break points but could not defend a third as Williams edged into the lead.

Williams immediately squandered the advantage in the next game, but Henin again lost her serve to allow the American to serve for the match.

Williams took the second of her match points when Henin hit her service return long, claiming a victory that will stand her in good stead ahead of the French Open later this month.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 12:57 PM
By Bud Collins, Globe Columnist, 5/19/2002
HOME - Carry on, Sister

Venus Williams came to town to do a little shopping, make commercial appearances, win a tennis tournament called the Italian Open, and burnish her status as No. 1 among the world's racket flappers. However, something went wrong. She strained her right wrist doing some heavy lifting (her luggage, not her wallet), and didn't even make it to the starting gate.
That left Little Sister Serena to carry the family name all the way up the storied seven hills of Rome and into today's final in place of the expected Venus.

Spectacularly she did, but it wasn't easy after three soft matches because the newly minted No. 1, Jennifer Capriati (stepping past benched Venus), stood in Serena's semifinal way yesterday. ''And when Jennifer and I play, it's always a battle,'' said Serena. ''She pushes me to the limit.''

It was the limit-plus, an extraordinary battle that became a conflagration of fiery shotmaking from all over the dirt rectangle, warming a screaming crowd of 5,500 at Il Foro Italico as sunny afternoon turned to cool, floodlit evening.

This was the kind of blaze that would have sent flame-loving Roman Emperor Nero into rapturous cadenzas on his fiddle, serenading the ever-in-question 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, triumph of the 20-year-old Williams.

Earlier in the day, those two Brussels sprouts, teenagers Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, fought it out to see who would represent Belgium against the United States for the title this afternoon. It was the slight slugger Henin, 19, breaking down her sturdier 18-year-old pal, Clijsters, after a rocky start, 7-5, 6-2, whipping through the last five games on a loss of four points.

Henin, the Wimbledon finalist to Venus Williams last summer, has racked up nine straight match wins, her lightning-bolt single-handed backhand flashing often in the sunshine, and her driving forehand no cinch either. A week ago she beat Serena Williams to win Berlin, and both may be somewhat gimpy today. Henin played with her left thigh strapped, and called an injury timeout to have it redone.

Williams called one herself to have her right thigh strapped, during the tremendous third set, just after she'd slipped Capriati's noose from 0-3 to go ahead, 4-3.

''I suspect we'll both be fine,'' said Williams, acknowledging that neither she nor Henin appeared to lose speed or movement. ''It's this clay with all the sliding, doing the splits a couple of times and going all out on your shots that annoys the body. Yeah, I guess I'm playing my best on this stuff where I've never won a tournament.''

She and Capriati banged away at each other for 21/4 hours, sprinting brilliantly to retrieve and transforming thundering shots from one into winners for the other.

Capriati had pulled out a 2-hour-8-minute quarterfinal win over Amelie Mauresmo 24 hours before. Although the Frenchwoman, losing, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, had enough game points in the third set to win it, 6-1, Capriati wouldn't let her go.

Rifling groundies to the deep reaches of the court, Capriati and Williams raised the excitement level incredibly in the third, driving the witnesses to roars that hadn't been heard around the Foro since beloved hometown boy Adriano Panatta was shaking emotions loose a quarter-century ago.

Williams's backhand was shaky, until she really needed a winner. Her forehand was dynamite. Capriati was torrid from both sides, but her serve failed her near the end, a double fault parting them to 6-5.

Yet Williams had trouble finishing Capriati, surviving a break point that would have sent them into a conclusive tiebreaker. There Capriati's backhand return hit the tape and paused suspensefully as she yelled, ''Get over!'' But instead the ball fell back and Capriati's powerful shoulders drooped.

Capriati missed a backhand, and Williams closed with a mighty serve that set up her short, decisive backhand from the service line.

Just two more points might have nudged Capriati, the Australian Open champ, into her third final of the year, and avenged her Key Biscayne title loss to Serena.

However, Serena was equal to Capriati's heavy-duty pressure in the game she called ''the turning point.'' Surely it was, a monster of a passage of nearly a quarter-hour, the fourth game of the last set. Down, 0-3, to a resurgent Capriati, Williams dodged three break points and wove through six deuces to rescue the game.
''I think from 4-0 I would have had a very good chance,'' Capriati said, ''but with Serena and me, nothing is certain.''

One of those breakers and it's 4-0. And if the netcord ball in the final game falls her way, maybe Capriati can force, then carry a tiebreaker.

Pure speculation, but not much doubt that this was the struggle of the season among the women. Now Williams gets to do an encore today, hoping to regain the title last a family possession when Big Sister won it three years ago.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 01:00 PM
Serena rates Rome title as one of her best
ROME, May 19 (Reuters) - Serena Williams won the first claycourt title of her career on Sunday when she took revenge on Justine Henin with a hard-fought 7-6 6-4 victory in the Italian Open final.

Williams, who lost to Henin a week ago at the German Open in Berlin, bounced around the court in delight after sealing her triumph, punching her fist towards her sister Venus and mother Oracene in the stands.

The American received a rousing cheer from the Foro Italico crowd when she addressed them in Italian, thanking them for their support throughout the week.

Afterwards she acknowledged the victory as one of her best ever wins.

"For me it's really high up there because a lot of people insist I can't play on clay even though I kind of grew up on it," Williams said.

"It makes me feel really good, especially going into Roland Garros. I'm definitely looking forward to doing well there."

Williams had to work hard for her win, though, needing six set points to put Henin away in the first set, which took an hour and nine minutes.

Henin saved three set points at 4-5 down and two more in the tiebreaker before a netted backhand from the Belgian finally gave Williams the advantage.

The second set was just as close, with Williams breaking for a 4-3 lead before being pegged back.

The third break of serve in a row decided matters, however, giving Williams the chance to serve for the title.

"I got a few more first serves in," added Williams. "In Berlin I got like three in the whole match, I just couldn't seem to get it going there.

"Hopefully I can keep getting the percentage up before I get to Roland Garros."

It was the 14th title of the 20-year-old Williams's career and the third this year after she won hardcourt titles in Scottsdale and Miami.

Her biggest win came at the 1999 U.S. Open, her only Grand Slam success.

She has already netted $6,727,324 in career prize money and will earn a further $182,000 for winning in Rome.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 01:00 PM
Roman Conqueror: Serena Wins Italian Open

By Richard Pagliaro
05/19/2002


Serena Williams plays the type of athletic, attacking, action-packed tennis that seems to require a stunt double to successfully execute. Performing with a purpose today, Williams scripted a successful sequel to her second successive championship showdown against Justine Henin with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 victory to win the Italian Open.



It was Williams's first career claycourt championship and it arrived one week after Henin beat Williams 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5) to win the German Open in Berlin.

The 20-year-old Williams collected her third tournament title of the year — she won Scottsdale and Key Biscayne on hard courts — and will reach a career-high rank of No. 3 behind top-ranked Jennifer Capriati and her older sister Venus when the new WTA Tour rankings are released on Monday.

"It was a tough win," said Williams, who won her 14th career championship. "Rome is in my heart."

The fifth-seeded Henin, who beat Belgian Fed Cup teammate Kim Clijsters in Saturday's semifinals, will move up to No. 5 in the rankings. A 2001 Roland Garros semifinalist, Henin has established herself as leading contender to capture the French Open, which begins on May 27th.

Trailing 4-5 in the first set, Henin saved three set points to eventually force a tiebreak. The Wimbledon runner-up saved another two set points in the tiebreak, but bashed a backhand into the net on the sixth set point as Williams took the tiebreak, 8-6.

Williams won the second set on the strength of two service breaks to close out the match.

"Serena was too strong today," Henin said. "She played well."

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 01:03 PM
Serena Wins Italian Open And Some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Copyright © 2002 AP MegaSports

ROME (AP) - Serena Williams proved she can win on clay by taking the Italian Open title.

Now it's on to the only Grand Slam tournament played on the slower surface, the French Open, which starts May 27.

Williams overcame a twisted right ankle and a tough opponent in Sunday's Italian Open final, beating Justine Henin 7-6 (6), 6-4 for her third championship of 2002 and first on clay in her career.

"A lot of people insist I'm not a clay-court player, although I am," Williams said. "So it makes me feel really good, especially going into Roland Garros."

The final was a rematch of the final at last week's German Open, which Henin won in a third-set tiebreaker.

It was an impressive showing by Williams, who beat top-ranked and defending French Open champion Jennifer Capriati in the semifinals at the Foro Italico. Williams will rise to a career-high No. 3 in the new rankings released Monday.

Against Henin, who hadn't lost a set all week before the final and will move up to No. 5 Monday, Williams was resilient.

She was undeterred by wasting five set points in the first set, which lasted 1 hour, 10 minutes, and closed out the victory with two service breaks in the second set.

With a game reliant on power and pace, Williams hasn't had a lot of success on clay in the past. She had never been beyond the quarterfinals in two previous trips to the Italian Open; that equals her best showing at the French Open.

"Serena was too strong today," said Henin, a French Open semifinalist and Wimbledon finalist last year. "She was really aggressive and she didn't make a lot of mistakes. Today she was simply better than me."

Neither player appeared to be in top shape.

Williams had her right thigh and both of her ankles wrapped, while Henin wore a bandage around her left thigh.

Williams twisted her right ankle in the first set Sunday, and had a quick turnaround after her three-set semifinal victory Saturday over Capriati.

"I'm too young to be tired," Williams said. "The adrenaline of being in the final again and being so close last week, it didn't bother me at all."

Her ankle twist was "identical" to the injury that made her miss the Australian Open at the start of the year, Williams said, adding: "It was a good twist. It's going to be really sore tomorrow."

Williams' other titles this year were at Scottsdale, Ariz., and Miami. She now trails only Capriati and sister Venus in the rankings.

"Rome is in my heart," Williams said in Italian to a round of applause from the crowd before accepting the winner's check of $182,000.

Later, she had something other than tennis on her mind.

"I'm immediately going to have some gelato," Williams said, "it's my favorite thing in Italy."

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 01:07 PM
Serena Williams wins Italian Open, rises to No. 3

5/19/02 6:41 PM
ROME (AP) Serena Williams proved she can win on clay by taking the Italian Open title.

Now it's on to the only Grand Slam tournament played on the slower surface, the French Open, which starts May 27.

Williams overcame a twisted right ankle and a tough opponent in Sunday's Italian Open final, beating Justine Henin 7-6 (6), 6-4 for her third championship of 2002 and first on clay in her career.

``A lot of people insist I'm not a clay-court player, although I am,'' Williams said. ``So it makes me feel really good, especially going into Roland Garros.''

The final was a rematch of the final at last week's German Open, which Henin won in a third-set tiebreaker.

It was an impressive showing by Williams, who beat top-ranked and defending French Open champion Jennifer Capriati in the semifinals at the Foro Italico. Williams will rise to a career-high No. 3 in the new rankings released Monday.

Against Henin, who hadn't lost a set all week before the final and will move up to No. 5 Monday, Williams was resilient.

She was undeterred by wasting five set points in the first set, which lasted 1 hour, 10 minutes, and closed out the victory with two service breaks in the second set.

With a game reliant on power and pace, Williams hasn't had a lot of success on clay in the past. She had never been beyond the quarterfinals in two previous trips to the Italian Open; that equals to her best showing at the French Open.

``Serena was too strong today,'' said Henin, a French Open semifinalist and Wimbledon finalist last year. ``She was really aggressive and she didn't make a lot of mistakes. Today she was simply better than me.''

Neither player appeared to be in top shape.

Williams had her right thigh and both of her ankles wrapped, while Henin wore a bandage around her left thigh.

Williams twisted her right ankle in the first set Sunday, and had a quick turnaround after her three-set semifinal victory Saturday over Capriati.

``I'm too young to be tired,'' Williams said. ``The adrenaline of being in the final again and being so close last week, it didn't bother me at all.''

Her ankle twist was ``identical'' to the injury that made her miss the Australian Open at the start of the year, Williams said, adding: ``It was a good twist. It's going to be really sore tomorrow.''

Williams' other titles this year were at Scottsdale, Ariz., and Miami. She now trails only Capriati and sister Venus in the rankings.

``Rome is in my heart,'' Williams said in Italian to a round of applause from the crowd before accepting the winner's check of $182,000.

Later, she had something other than tennis on her mind.

``I'm immediately going to have some gelato,'' Williams said, ``it's my favorite thing in Italy.''

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 01:09 PM
Tennis: Fired-up Williams grinds Capriati into dirt




Eleanor Preston reports from Rome on a bruising encounter and a victory for raw power over placement and technique



Serena Williams may not be the most natural of clay court players but she proved that whatever she is doing on what the Americans are wont to call the dirt, it is working. Jennifer Capriati, who slumped, thoroughly exhausted, into her chair after Williams beat her 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 yesterday in the Italian Open semi-finals, can attest to that.
Women's tennis on clay used to be a gentle, elegant affair where finesse and placement triumphed over all-out power.

The fact that Williams has now reached her second clay court final in a row, and in doing so has placed herself among the favourites for the forthcoming French Open, is a sure sign that times have changed.

When Williams colourfully summed it up afterwards as 'a fight, a battle, like one of those Lennox Lewis Mike Tyson fights' she was only half joking.

Capriati, though reigning champ ion at Roland Garros and herself no stranger to big hitting, at times was made to look like she was playing in slow motion by Williams.

The fact that it took Williams three sets and two hours and 15 minutes to put her opponent away had a lot to do with Capriati's gritty determination but it also showed that there is a potentially fatal flaw in Williams' plan to dominate in Paris.

If you belt the ball with as much venom as Williams does the law of averages dictates that you will miss plenty and that, as ever, is her Achilles heel. Like a golfer who can hit the ball miles off the tee but only occasionally finds the fairway, when Williams gets it wrong it can be spectacular.

Had there been rough or water hazards on the Foro Italicos Court Centrale she would undoubtedly have found them with some of her miscues. When she gets it right though, as Capriati found, she is unstoppable.

In the first set Capriati did little to help her cause, playing several leagues below the form she showed to defeat Amelie Mauresmo in the previous round. Too often she was stranded by a Williams pile driver as it whizzed past her in the opposite direction to where she was headed. But she held on and broke early in the second set and from then on ensured Williams had a match on her hands.

Having levelled things up Capriati should have capitalised on the 3-0 lead she built up but by then the onslaught she had faced was beginning to take its toll as were some mildly unsporting match tactics from Williams.

Having broken back for 3-2 in the third set, and without showing any visible signs of injury, Williams took a prolonged break and went off court to have her right thigh heavily strapped.

'I had a momentum going,' said Capriati afterwards, 'and maybe that kind of shifted it a little bit. But mainly it was getting cold and I just stiffened up a little bit.' As with everything with the Williams sisters, it may have been unconventional, but it worked.

Capriati did sound a word of warning to Williams though, a parting shot as she headed off to put the finishing touches to the defence of her Roland Garros title. 'I would say that I didn't play nearly as well today as I have been,' she said. 'I think it's good for me that I wasn't playing my best and I still had a good chance of winning. You know, I don't want to peak too early. Everything is for next week. Now I can have extra time to work harder and go into the French.'

Justine Henin is the next contender to take on Williams and few could blame the slightly built Belgian for feeling a little apprehensive before today's final.

Henin though is stronger than she looks and doesn't scare easily. She will be buoyed by the fact that she beat Williams on her way to winning the German Open title in Berlin a week ago. That winning streak continued when she beat her countrywoman Kim Clijsters 7-5, 6-2 yesterday in a match that was patchy but always absorbing.

Clijsters served for the first set at 5-3 before Henin reeled off four games in a row to take the set. She then went from strength to strength. Clijsters, who beat Henin in the semi-finals of Roland Garros last year, has held the upper hand over her friend recently but Henin's confidence right now is such that even Clijsters couldn't put her off her stride.

That's another sobering thought for Williams as she tries to win her first clay court title today.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 01:14 PM
German accused of stalking Serena

Fan extradited from Italy after being stopped by security




ROME, May 19 — A German tennis fan was being extradited from Italy on Sunday to face charges of stalking American player Serena Williams.




Serena beats Henin in Italian Open




POLICE SAID ALBRECHT STROMEYER, 33, was arrested Saturday after being stopped by security guards near the entrance to the Italian Open tournament at Rome’s Foro Italico.
Officials at the tournament had strengthened security after a man was stopped trying to enter a restricted area at last week’s German Open, where Williams was playing.
Witnesses in Rome said four police cars drew up outside the Foro Italico and officers arrested a man who had been looking at a scoreboard beside a court where Williams was playing her semifinal against compatriot Jennifer Capriati.
Williams, who won the final of the Italian Open on Sunday, beating Belgian Justine Henin 7-6 6-4, said she was happy with the security in Rome.
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“I think the (women’s) tour has done a great job in letting me know what I needed to know to be safe,” she said. “I feel safe, and hopefully I’ll continue to feel safe.”
Security has long been an issue on the women’s tennis tour. In 1993, Monica Seles, who was then ranked No. 1 in the world, was stabbed in the back on court by a deranged fan of her rival Steffi Graf in Hamburg.
Last year, Australian Dubravko Rajcevic was jailed for two years for stalking Martina Hingis of Switze

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V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 01:16 PM
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Serena Williams of U.S. celebrates after defeating Anastasia Myskina of Russia during their match at Rome's Italian Open May 17, 2002. Williams won 6-3 6-4.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 01:18 PM
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(Italian Open-Rome) Serena Williams after
her quarterfinal win. She will play Capriati
in the semifinals

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May 20th, 2002, 01:20 PM
Serena defeats Capriati SF 5-18-02

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May 20th, 2002, 01:21 PM
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May 20th, 2002, 01:23 PM
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Serena Williams of U.S. waves to the crowd after defeating compatriot Jennifer Capriati during their semi final match at the Italian Open in Rome May 18, 2002. Williams won 6-2 3-6 7-5.

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May 20th, 2002, 01:24 PM
Serena defeats Justine

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May 20th, 2002, 02:14 PM
Serena looking strong for Roland Garros
Capriati: Can she or can't she defend?
Hingis heading for surgery

By Sandra Harwitt
********************
Fair or not, professional athletes are always in the trap of having to prove they have the goods to accomplish certain feats.

As far as Serena Williams is concerned, she went a long way this past week – in fact, the last two weeks – too prove her value on the terre battue and establish herself as among the favorites to win at Roland Garros. Last week at the German Open, for the first time in her career, Williams went further than she ever had at a clay court event, finally passing through the quarterfinals and going to the finals where she lost to Belgian Justine Henin.


This week at the Italian Open, Williams returned to the final and offered Henin a little payback for the previous loss, taking the title over the Belgian with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 victory for her first ever clay court title. But what can be considered even more impressive was her three-set semi-final victory over reigning French Open champion Jennifer Capriati.

Of her first clay court victory, Williams said, "It is pretty important for me because a lot of people insist that I am not a clay court player, although I am. It makes me feel really good, especially going into Roland Garros. I am definitely looking forward to doing well there."

HOTTEST SISTER IN 2002
Serena is assuredly looking a lot better on the clay than big sis, Venus, has this year.

At the Italian Open, Venus didn't even hit the courts, pulling out of the event after injuring her wrist when lifting her gear bag. The wrist has given Venus some trouble in the past and you have to be wondering if it is so fragile that just lifting her gear bag causes an injury too serious to compete, what the prognosis is for the future?

Without a doubt, the Williams sisters are gifted with the power of confidence – even when their squandering their talent and losing matches, they walk-the-walk and talk-the- talk of self-belief. When you can couple that with their on-court achievements, it is a tough nut to crack. Coming through this year's clay court season with such flying colors places Serena, enjoying a career-best No. 3 ranking, among the handful of competitors ******************** looks for in the winner's circle at Roland Garros.

But Serena is trying to play it cool as far as her prospects at the French.

"I just consider myself as a competitor," Serena said. "And when I go out there I compete, from the first round to, hopefully, the final round. I never try to get that far ahead because normally you get so excited and I can't allow that to happen. I'm just staying focused, and hopefully, I'll just be as fortunate as I was this week in Roland Garros. That's my goal. And hopefully, I'll be able to reach my goal."

Capriati: Can she or can't she defend?
There's no denying that Jennifer Capriati is having an lackluster clay court season and that factor leads to reservations when speculating whether she can successfully defend her French Open crown.

The evidence that Capriati can defend a Grand Slam title came in January when she walked away with her second Australian Open title. But that evidence will not lead to her being a clear-cut favorite when she heads to Paris. Not even the fact that she recaptured the world No. 1 ranking from Venus Williams by reaching the semifinals in Rome will make Capriati seem the odds-on champion at the second Grand Slam of the year. Capriati has a great deal of stiff competition in Roland Garros – Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters to name just three players who have had good showings the past few weeks on the terre battue. This situation is likely to shake Capriati's confidence and it will be her shaky serve where she will most likely look vulnerable to opponents.

Hingis heading for surgery
While the top players from the women's tour will be gearing up this week for the start of the French Open on May 27th, Martina Hingis will be undergoing surgery to repair ligament damage in her left ankle. The recuperation period is expected to be two months which means that the Swiss will not only be missing Roland Garros, but could be a no-show at Wimbledon, too.

What concerns tr.net at this point are the early reports contributed to the 21-year-old Hingis's physician, Dr. Heinz Buehlmann, that she could be suffering from osteoarthritis and the joint disease could prematurely end her career. That report was silenced later in the week when it was revealed that the former world No. 1 would be having left ankle surgery and be back on tour by the thick of the summer. But you have to wonder if Hingis's physician was just talking out of turn – after all, it seems unlikely that any doctor would casually mention an athlete could be showing signs of osteoarthritis if at least the early signs of the disease weren't present.
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V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 03:07 PM
Serena Closing the Gap
Los Angeles Times
By BUD COLLINS, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
ROME -- Is there a Betty Crocker Center for recovering gelato junkies?

Serena Williams seemed to think so as she riffed after winning the Italian Open Sunday, a pretty respectable prize for somebody who hadn't won a clay-court tennis tournament.

"I really need some gelato," she giggled impatiently. "They've got the best ice cream in the world here. Yeah, I guess you could call me a gelato junkie, and maybe someday I'll have to go through the 12-step program at the Betty Crocker Center." Serena, in closing what she calls her "Venus gap," was many tasty flavors of tennis player during her dazzling week on the central court at Il Foro Italico. She concluded with a double-dipping, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, victory over the slight and stylish Belgian teenager Justine Henin, Wimbledon finalist last year to big sister Venus.

Oh, yes, Venus and "the gap." Venus was supposed to win this tournament for the second time and burnish her No. 1 ranking. But something went wrong beforehand. A little heavy lifting strained her right wrist, causing her to withdraw to a front-row seat alongside mother Oracene Williams.

But that idleness allowed Jennifer Capriati to jump ahead and be designated No. 1 the WTA computer. Whereupon Serena out-bashed Capriati, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, in the thrilling Saturday semifinal (probably the best match of the season), even though Capriati had three break-point opportunities to lead 4-0 in the third set.

After rescuing that one, Serena said, "I'm closing the Venus gap."

Just as father Richard Williams informed the world a few years ago, his daughters are in a tussle for the top, currently holding their highest combined rankings: Nos. 2-3, Venus a length in front. Though slight enough to fit in Serena's racket bag, Henin's a slugger. But not a grinder. Her strokes, particularly the lightning-bolt, one-handed backhand, are effortless and pure.

But whenever Henin got too close for comfort, Serena turned on her power, speed and grit. She went vocal, her growls as menacing as her strokes.

"I'd rather stay calm and quiet," she said, "but the grunting starts when things get intense."

For a moment Serena was worried. And afterward she was sore from a strained right thigh and sprained left ankle that caused her to call an injury timeout in the seventh game. "When that happened I said to myself, 'Oh, no, not that again!' It was the ankle that kept me out of the Australian Open," Serena said. "But they were taped before and re-taped during the timeout. I'll be OK for Paris," where the French Open starts a week from today.

It took 1 hour 40 minutes (of the 1:56 match) before serve was cracked, then in 1-2-3 fashion. Serena's forehand sent her ahead 4-3, but the Belgian struck back for her lone break to 4-4 only to fall again immediately.

V.S.
May 20th, 2002, 03:07 PM
Williams shows courage to take her revenge
Times Online
From Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent in Rome


HER right ankle was strapped, her left ankle was strapped and her right thigh was strapped, but it was going to take more than a few rolls of bandage to keep Serena Williams from the fourteenth title of a career that is peaking at a moment of scintillating opportunity.
For once, boxing did not have bragging rights on the tale of the tape. There was enough of the sticky brown substance holding Williams and Justine Henin, of Belgium, together yesterday to fill an episode of ER.

How the 19-year-old American managed to move so emphatically on a stodgy clay court spoke wonders for her athleticism. “I’m too young to get tired, that might happen in 20 years’ time,” she said.

In personal terms, her 7-6, 6-4 victory in the Italian Open final was retaliation for the German final a week earlier, when Henin won in three sets. In a wider context it pointed Serena towards the French Open, starting a week today, and the grass beyond, as the player to beat — which is just how she likes it. Venus will need all the power restored to her right wrist by next week to restrain her kid sister. The rest of the field had better start working on their physiques too.

It was Serena herself who mentioned the Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis fight in the aftermath of her momentous semi-final success over Jennifer Capriati on Saturday evening, a slugging match the like of which the Foro Italico had not been treated to before. When pinpointing the huge physical difference between the final contestants, one writer mentioned her ‘big shoulders’. “You mean sexy body,” was Serena’s riposte.

Whatever way it is shaped, you cannot ignore the girl. And her game is not purely based on brawn, though there was not much call for deftness on a court deadened by the morning’s persistent rain.

When, at 3-3 and deuce, she came shuddering to a halt behind the baseline after stretching for a backhand, the final looked over for the former US Open champion. She had to lean so heavily on her racket that one feared it would crumple beneath the strain.

Two lineswomen rose to ask how she was, Sandra De Jenken, the umpire, raced across and when a chair was found for Serena to rest her right leg on, more bandages were produced.

There were a couple of times that Williams was restricted, but the fighter in her simply refused to bow to the strapping on her legs. Henin extricated herself from three set points in the tenth game, delaying her opponent for a further three until the Belgian’s auspicious backhand wavered under pressure in the first set tie-break.

Henin, it should be remembered, was also playing with a huge swath of tape on her left thigh, although she looked less troubled by an injury than the crunching depth from the other side of the net. When Serena finally took advantage of a break point — her twelfth — she was immediately broken back but turned the tables again in the next game. One chance was all she would allow Henin.

The squeeze is on. Serena has risen to No 3 in the world, the highest ranking of her career, in behind her sister, who is just a handful of points adrift of Capriati, back at No 1. Henin is up to No 5, a place she occupied briefly after reaching last year’s Wimbledon final, with her compatriot, Kim Clijsters, separating her from Serena. It is fantastically close as the high points of the tennis year approach.

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May 20th, 2002, 08:10 PM
Dirt devil Williams cleans up nicely in Italy
Boston Globe
By Bud Collins, Globe Columnist
Posted by wtafans team

ROME - It wasn't what you'd call the fine touch of an Italian artist that an American tourist named Serena Williams gleaned from her visit to Rome, and thrust at Justine Henin. More like a Sunday punch from the Colosseum, a rousing roundhouse that canceled out the stylish Belgian kid's finesse, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, yesterday.




Whatever the definition, it was there with in-your-face force whenever the situation called for seizing a vital point, and never letting 19-year-old Henin get the idea that she had Williams's number on the alien tennis soil of Europe.

The idea may have been planted in the clay of Berlin seven days before when the nifty little Henin beat Williams by 2 points - 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5) - for that title.

But this was Rome and Il Foro Italico, and it was time for the Royal House of Williams to run up its pennant again, this time with Serena on the Italian throne where big sister Venus had ruled in 1999. After all, Serena never had been a diva of the dirt, and to grab her initial clay-court championship at the Foro was indeed an achievement.

Venus, excusing herself from the Italian Open beforehand with an ailing right wrist, had a front-row seat with their mom, Oracene, and maybe Venus could feel Serena breathing down her neck.

''I'm closing the Venus gap. I want to get to No. 1 where Venus has been,'' Serena said with a laugh through the soreness of a strained right thigh and a sprained left ankle that caused her to call an injury timeout in the seventh game after slipping and doing a semi-split. ''When that happened, I said to myself, `Oh, no, not that again!' It was the ankle that kept me out of the Australian Open. But they were taped before and retaped during the timeout.

''I'll be OK for Paris.''

The Sisters Sledgehammer - leaving town on the road to the French Open, which begins a week from today - are decorated with their loftiest combined rankings: Nos. 2-3, Venus a length ahead. Their father, Richard Williams, announced matter-of-factly a few years ago that his daughters would scuffle for No. 1, and it is coming to pass. Jennifer Capriati has wrested the top rung from Venus for the time being, even though she was knocked over by Serena in a rip-roaring semifinal Saturday, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

A morning-long downpour and glowering skies appeared to make for a subdued atmosphere yesterday, and the congregation of 4,100 was never stimulated to the hurrahs that the relentless bashing of Capriati and Serena brought forth. You felt that the nimble, slick Henin, who seems the weight of one of Serena's legs, was barely averting a pulverizing by her foe.

Serena, seldom held back by the tape jobs (nor was Henin, her left thigh strapped), attacked with concussive muscle from the baseline, and sometimes the net. She served huge to get out of trouble. Her red outfit made you envision a fire truck answering an alarm, accompanied by a piercing growl instead of a siren.

''When it gets intense, I grunt like that, but I'd rather stay calm and quiet,'' she said.

Intimidating? It used to be, acknowledged the blond, ponytailed Henin, who improved her ranking to No. 5. ''But not anymore. I'm used to Serena,'' who is 2-0 against Henin on hard courts, now 1-1 on clay.

''I think I'm a really good clay-court player, but everybody says I can't play on it,'' Serena said. ''This may change some minds.''

Henin said, ''Serena was the better player today, more consistent, served better.'' An accurate summation. But she hung on through more difficulties than she presented for the champ. Serving out of three set points at 0-40 to 5-5, and saving two more in the tiebreaker to 6 -all, Henin was then battered by two massive forehands.

Nobody could bust serve for a long time, until 1:40 of the 1:56 match, whereupon the only breaks came 1-2-3. Serena's heavy forehand sent her ahead, 4-3, but the Belgian struck back for her lone break to 4-4 only to fall again immediately. That game really hurt since Henin went up, 30-0, and had the next point on a sharply angled volley - or did she? Serena's quickness showed vividly as she stole the point with a mad dash and a flicked passer. Instead of 40-0, Henin - despite the beauty and distinctive purity of her strokes - was finished. A run of points took Serena to 5-4, where she closed.

Williams was the 12th American woman to conquer Rome - the first was Helen Jacobs in 1934, the most successful was Chris Evert with a record five titles between 1974 and 1982. It's doubtful any of her predecessors made an acceptance speech in Italian as Serena did, wowing the crowd particularly with the line, ''Rome will always be in my heart.''

Later, she said Roman gelato will always be in her heart, too, if not her waistline - ''the best ice cream in the world.'' Declaring herself a ''gelato junkie,'' Serena wondered if ''I might have to take the 12-step program at the Betty Crocker Center.''

Whatever steps she takes, they'll be swift and leave a bad taste only with her foes