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Wimbledon 2004

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post #2 of 55 (permalink) Old Jun 9th, 2004, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/...294730670.htmlThird Wimbledon Title Beckons for Serena
Thursday, June 3, 2004



It would seem that the burning question of whether Serena Williams would return to defend her Wimbledon title has been settled. She is definitely back and her return will be welcome across the tennis world.
It would seem that the burning question of whether Serena Williams would return to defend her Wimbledon title has been settled. She is definitely back and her return will be welcome across the tennis world.

The then world number-one won The Championships – her sixth Grand Slam title – by defeating her ailing sister Venus in July 2003. She then effectively disappeared from the tennis circuit for eight straight months, pulling out of 12 tournaments, due to a knee problem which was corrected by surgery last August.

Her recovery, however, proved much slower than even she expected, forcing her to skip both the US and Australian Opens. “I can’t wait to start back playing again,” the frustrated 21-year-old admitted at the end of last year, a sentiment shared by many in the game as her absence continued to fuel rumors of the opposite.

“She misses the competition,” sister Venus said in Australia in a bid to stem negative comment and assure the tennis fraternity that the Wimbledon champion would be back, and in top form.

But the rumors persisted as Serena used her time off court to pursue other personal ambitions, like launching a clothing line with her own designs, and acting, appearing in a film called ‘Beauty Shop’, and on TV as a teacher in ‘My Wife and Kid’ as well as a wrongly convicted woman in a drama called ‘Street Time’.

“I like to play dress up, make different things and design different things. It’s fun – and I like to go to events wearing my own designs now,” Williams admitted.

On top of those activities she has secured a massive US$40 million endorsement contract with Nike which reputedly will make her the highest paid female athlete of all time. But to achieve that she will not only have to continue her tennis career, but regain the standard and levels she achieved before undergoing surgery.

The big question is whether she can regain the supremacy that, between 2002 and 2003, won her all four Grand Slams in her self-dubbed ‘Serena Slam’.

Her win over Venus at last year’s Championships ensured her status within the game despite her earlier loss of her French title. So with six majors already to her credit, and a total of 23 tournament triumphs, everything looked well set for a decade of Williams domination but her enforced lay-off has seen the Belgians, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, take over at the top. A battle royale is expected when all four, including Venus, return fully fit to deal with the rigors of the circuit.

Neither of the Williams sisters has ever been worried about the competition, having been brought up to believe they are the best so, as far as either of them is concerned, Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters are just keeping the seats warm for them. However, their famous mental strength was truly tested when, last September, their sister Yetunde Price was murdered in Los Angeles. The loss and circumstances hit the family hard and even now, they can’t really talk about it in public as they fight for the custody of Yetunde’s three children, Jeffery, Justus and Jair.

Tennis, though, needs the Williams sisters, especially the flamboyant Serena but there is no doubt that her interest in the game is not as focused as it has been. “I’ve always wanted to play tennis – to leave a mark – and I think I’ll be able to leave that mark with what I’ve already done – and I’m still only 21,” she commented recently.



For the sake of tennis, let us hope she sticks with the sport that elevated her to icon status.

Unfortunately her initial return to the circuit didn’t augur well as she appeared in Doha only to withdraw with flu, but then went on to win the Miami title for a third consecutive year.

In April she was upset in the quarter finals by Nadia Petrova and later withdrew from Charleston with a knee inflammation but, in May, she reached the semi-finals of Rome where Jennifer Capriati ended a run of eight straight defeats at her hands. It was Capriati who again defeated her at Roland Garros, where Serena looked to suffer from hamstring problems.

For a player who has already contributed greatly to the sport, it is indeed interesting to discover that she declared her best tennis moment as being winning the first of her Wimbledon titles in 2002. As the defending champion, she will be keen to return to the All England Lawn Tennis Club fully fit and ready to retain her crown at this year’s Championships.
__________________________________________________ ______________

Written by Henry Wancke

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post #3 of 55 (permalink) Old Jun 11th, 2004, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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The Queen of Grass

6/10/04 1:48 PM

The title everyone player dreams of winning, is Wimbledon. Through it’s rich history in tennis, Wimbledon remains the biggest tournament in the world. The short grass season on the tour is where Venus seems to shine the brightest.

Early on in her career, one would expect the grass would suit her game perfectly and Venus quickly showed she could play on grass, when she made her professional debut at Wimbledon in 1997. The weather was terrible the first week of Wimbledon. Venus’ first round match wasn’t fully completed until the first Saturday because of the rain! An unknown Magdalena Grzybowska ended Venus’ hopes of winning a round, edging her 6-4 2-6 6-4 in the opening round.

Still, one had to think it was only a matter of time.

The following year, 1998, Venus advanced to the quarter finals, without the loss of a set. And she had beaten some quality opponents, including Barbara Schett and Chanda Rubin. Venus faced Jana Novotna, a grass court specialist. The match was very close...and very dramatic. A few close baseline calls went the way of Novotna, causing Venus to lose some focus. The result? A tough 7-5 7-6(7-2) victory for Novotna, who would go on to win the title. Venus seemed to learn from the match, as she rarely, if ever, questions calls any more.

1999, Venus found herself in similar circumstances. She had advanced to the quarter finals, after overcoming Anna Kournikova in a tough round of 16 battle. She was set to face #2 seed, and the reigning French Open Champion, Steffi Graf. The match was a classic battle, as they engaged in numerous long baseline rallies. After a couple rain delays, Graf emerged the victor 6-2 3-6 6-4. Still, many felt this was the best match of the entire tournament, and it proved to everyone that Venus was going to be a force on the grass courts in England.

In 2000, not many were looking at Venus as a threat. She had missed the first 5 months of the season with injury, and her match record was only 6-3. Venus stormed through the first week, without the loss of a set. It set up another tough quarter final, with world’s #1 Martina Hingis. While Venus had her moments against Hingis, she had never beaten her in a Grand Slam. Venus quickly stormed out and won the opening set 6-3. In the second set, Venus continued to find the corners, going up a break 2-1. Then nerves, errors and Hingis’ rising level of play got to Venus. Hingis took the second set 6-4. By the time Venus broke to go up 3-2 in the third set, there had been 9 straight breaks of service. Venus picked up her first serve speed and percentage from then on. On match point, Venus cracked a huge ace out wide. Venus won 6-3 4-6 6-4 to advance to her first semi final at Wimbledon.

Her semi final opponent was none other than sister Serena, who had demolished everyone in her path to reach her first semi final at Wimbledon. The Venus vs. Serena match up was hyped all around the world...and the sisters wouldn’t disappoint.

The first set was a little shaky from Serena’s side, as Venus cruised to a 6-2 victory. In the second set though, Serena picked it up. Both players got to 6-6 using good serving, and amazing court coverage. Serena took a slight lead in the tie break, leading 3-1. Venus picked it up, and Serena never won another point. A 6-2 7-6(7-3) put Venus into her first Wimbledon final, although it clearly pained her to beat her sister, as she comforted Serena at the net.


Victory!


In the finals, Venus was up against defending Champion, Lindsay Davenport. The match didn’t have the drama of the Venus-Hingis match, or the great rallies of the Venus-Serena match. But it did have the infamous leap. Venus stormed through to lead 6-3 5-4, serving. The nerves of serving for Wimbledon got to her, and she lost serve. She battled her way into the tiebreak, and got up 5-1 by using forceful shots. On match point, Davenport’s attempted volley reached the net and Venus leaped into the skies, waving her arms. She had won her first Grand Slam title 6-3 7-6(7-3). After shaking hands with Davenport, Venus ran up to the family box and embraced her sister Serena, and her father Richard, who had tears in his eyes. It was one of the greatest Wimbledon celebrations ever.

In 2001, Venus returned as the regal defending Champion. Again, many people were writing Venus off after she suffered a shocking first round loss at the French Open. But Venus stormed through the draw. Her serve was the best it had ever been in the late stages. In the semi finals, Venus once again took out Lindsay Davenport in a 6-2 6-7(1-7) 6-1 win. Davenport broke Venus’ serve twice, while Venus broke Davenport’s serve seven times. In the finals, Venus faced Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne, who was playing her first major final. Venus stormed through 6-1 3-6 6-0 to win her second straight Wimbledon title. Venus broke Henin-Hardenne five times; Henin broke just once. Venus looked like she was on her way to breaking Navratilova’s record 9 singles titles in Wimbledon.

At the 2002 event, Venus suffered her first loss three years at the event. She was coming off a runner up showing at Roland Garros. She was seeded #1, for the first time at Wimbledon, and stormed through the draw. She crushed Henin-Hardenne 6-3 6-2 in the semi finals, and was set to face Serena in the finals. The first set was probably the best set of tennis the two sisters ever played against each other. Serena edged Venus 7-6(7-4), and rolled to a 7-6 6-3 win. Venus’ run at Wimbledon was over. After the match, Serena graciously said that perhaps Venus had a slight shoulder injury, which prevented her from serving her best. But the classy Venus made no excuses, saying Serena was the better play that day.


Last year, in 2003, the early talk at Wimbledon was Venus’ new dress. Laced in the back, Venus looked the part of the two-time champion. Venus had come off an injury-related fourth round exit in Paris...but was feeling healthy and eager to play Wimbledon. In the third round, she upended the French Open semi finalist Nadia Petrova 6-1 6-2. In the fourth round, she avenged her Roland Garros loss to Vera Zvonareva 6-1 6-3. The quarter finals was another clash with Lindsay Davenport. Venus overcame a tough Davenport 6-2 2-6 6-1 to reach her fourth straight semi final in London. She was set to face world’s #2 Kim Clijsters. Everything changed for Venus in the third game of the semi final. During a serve, Venus re-injured her stomach. She used all her heart and will to battle past Clijsters 4-6 6-3 6-1 to book at spot in the finals against Serena. Before the finals, there was talk that Venus wouldn’t be able to compete. But Venus didn’t want to disappoint the fans. Not only did she play, she took a set from the healthy Serena. Serena defended her title 4-6 6-4 6-2. Venus almost looked relieved when it was over, and Serena said she felt Venus would have been the Wimbledon champion at the level she was playing if she had not been injured. The love the sisters had for each other came through on that day.

As we approach the 2004 Championships, Venus seeks to make more history. Venus is trying to advance to her fifth straight final, only Martina Navratilova can say the same (in the Open Era) and her third Wimbledon title.



By Dallas Walsh / Staff Writer

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post #4 of 55 (permalink) Old Jun 16th, 2004, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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June 16, 2004



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Wimbledon Announces Seeds

WIMBLEDON, England - The seedings were announced on Wednesday for this year's Wimbledon, which begins next Monday at the All England Club. Two-time defending champion Serena Williams was given the top seed, while Roland Garros winner Anastasia Myskina will be the No.2 and two-time winner Venus Williams was given the No.3 seed.

Here's a look at this year's Wimbledon seeds:

SINGLES
1. Serena WILLIAMS (USA)
2. Anastasia MYSKINA (RUS)
3. Venus WILLIAMS (USA)
4. Amelie MAURESMO (FRA)
5. Lindsay DAVENPORT (USA)
6. Elena DEMENTIEVA (RUS)
7. Jennifer CAPRIATI (USA)
8. Svetlana KUZNETSOVA (RUS)
9. Paola SUAREZ (ARG)
10. Nadia PETROVA (RUS)
11. Ai SUGIYAMA (JPN)
12. Vera ZVONAREVA (RUS)
13. Maria SHARAPOVA (RUS)
14. Silvia FARINA ELIA (ITA)
15. Patty SCHNYDER (SUI) wc
16. Anna SMASHNOVA-PISTOLESI (ISR)
17. Chanda RUBIN (USA)
18. Francesca SCHIAVONE (ITA)
19. Fabiola ZULUAGA (COL)
20. Elena BOVINA (RUS)
21. Magdalena MALEEVA (BUL)
22. Conchita MARTINEZ (ESP)
23. Jelena DOKIC (SCG)
24. Mary PIERCE (FRA)
25. Nathalie DECHY (FRA)
26. Lisa RAYMOND (USA)
27. Alicia MOLIK (AUS)
28. Emilie LOIT (FRA)
29. Dinara SAFINA (RUS)
30. Eleni DANIILIDOU (GRE)
31. Amy FRAZIER (USA)
32. Meghann SHAUGHNESSY (USA)

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Tennis: Federer and Serena Williams to defend Wimbledon titles as top seeds


LONDON : The All England Club at Wimbledon have made defending champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams the top seeds for the Championships which begin next week.

Swiss world number one Federer is followed in the men's seedings by Andy Roddick of the United States who triumphed on grass at Queen's last week and also won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open last year.


French Open finalist Guillermo Coria is seeded third with fellow Argentinian David Nalbandian in fourth.

British number one Tim Henman, four times a semi-finalist, is seeded fifth.

Two-time defending champion Serena Williams, currently ranked 10th in the world, heads the women's event with older sister Venus seeded third.

The women's title has been shared by the Williams sisters for the last four years, with Venus winning in 2000 and 2001 and Serena triumphant in the following two years.

French Open champion Anastasia Myskina is seeded second for this year's event with the beaten finalist in Paris Elena Dementieva in sixth.

But the women's competition has been hard hit this year by the withdrawls through illness and injury of world number one Justine Henin-Hardenne and fellow Belgian and world number two Kim Clijsters.

High profile withdrawals from the men's event include 1992 champion Andre Agassi of the United States, three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil and newly-crowned French Open champion Gaston Gaudio of Argentina.

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Ambitious Russians set to muscle in on the Williams show
2004-06-17 01:05:10 GMT (Reuters)

By Bill Barclay

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) - With Belgium's best two players unfit, the women's singles at Wimbledon will boil down to a contest between Russian grace and American gristle.

The withdrawal of Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, the world numbers one and two respectively, due to nagging health and fitness problems has left a big hole in the draw.

In their absence Russia's cortege of youthful contenders, led by newly-anointed French Open queen Anastasia Myskina, will take on the beef of the Williams sisters Serena and Venus and their battle-hardened cohorts Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport.

Only France's Amelie Mauresmo looks capable of breaking the Russo-American stranglehold.

However, the world number four's muscular frame belies a fragile mind and she undid much of her good work this year with a depressingly familiar loss of nerve in the French Open quarter-finals three weeks ago.

That defeat by eventual runner-up Elena Dementieva was indicative of the extraordinary strength in depth of Russian women's tennis, still celebrating after producing the first all-Russian grand slam final in history in Paris.

The march of the tsarinas is led by Myskina (world number three) and Dementieva (six) who spearhead a group of six Russians populating the top 15 of the latest women's rankings.

Svetlana Kuznetsova (nine), Nadia Petrova (12), Vera Zvonareva (14) and Maria Sharapova (15) are all likely to make an impression at the All England Club next week.

Most precocious of all is the elegant, 17-year-old Sharapova, who reached the French Open quarter-finals and proved her class on grass by winning her third tour title at Edgbaston last week.

Kuznetsova, who celebrates her 19th birthday during the Wimbledon fortnight, reached the quarter-finals on her debut last year and the 19-year-old Zvonareva, like Sharapova, Myskina and Dementieva, made the fourth round.


BIG BREAKTHROUGH

Nonetheless their lack of experience relative to the Americans in winning grand slam titles is likely to tell at some stage.

The exception is Muscovite Myskina, whose dynamic French Open triumph proved she has the temperament to challenge for the biggest prizes.

"It was a major breakthrough in terms of self-belief for me," she said of her Paris win.

"I'm not the favourite (at Wimbledon)...but who says I can't reach the final just like I did in Paris?"

If the Russians are hungry, the American appetite appears a little diminished.

A Williams has won each of the last four Wimbledon singles crowns but the form of defending champion Serena, seeking her third successive Wimbledon crowns, is still brittle after her return from knee surgery in March.

Older sister Venus, crippled by an abdominal strain during her loss to Serena in last year's subdued final, is battling inner demons in a bid to recover the verve that brought her successive Wimbledon titles in 2000 and 2001.

Capriati and 1999 champion Davenport are both 28 and past their best, though still capable of inflicting widespread damage in the draw with their punishing power-hitting.

They are spring chickens compared with the 47-year-old Martina Navratilova who returns to Wimbledon singles action for the first time since 1994.

Judging by her comprehensive first-round defeat at the French Open last month, though, the grand old lady of Wimbledon has no chance of adding to her nine All England Club singles titles.

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Williams sisters out to protect the family silver
By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) - For five years, Venus and Serena Williams left countless opponents bruised and battered as they ruthlessly charged towards claiming every title of note on the tennis calendar.

From the moment Serena wrapped her arms around the U.S. Open trophy in 1999, the Williams name has been engraved on to grand slam silverware no fewer than 10 times.

However, their aura of invincibility has been slipping since the sisters were sidelined for several months with injuries following Serena's victory over Venus in last year's Wimbledon final.
As they return to the All England Club next week, the American duo will be well aware that a slip-up at the bastion of grasscourt tennis will leave the Williams household without any grand slam titles for the first time since September 1999.
It might be hard to believe that only 12 months ago few punters would have been brave enough to bet against either of the Williamses winning the Wimbledon crown.

Venus triumphed in 2000 and 2001 before finishing runner-up to younger sibling Serena the following two years.

However, their indifferent form this season suggests many of their rivals could at last have a chance of ensuring a name other than Williams is imprinted on the Rosewater Dish for the first time since the turn of the century.

"I think this year I made it really tough on myself by not performing and by making a lot of errors and by just not keeping the ball in play, just basically not doing anything at a professional level," Serena said following her quarter-final defeat at Roland Garros.

"I need to go home and work on some things...(actually I need to work on) everything you can think of that involves tennis."

Following her disappointing outing in Paris, Serena also slipped out of the WTA's top 10 last week for the first time since August 1999.

LOSING MATCHES
Ranked number one in the world just 10 months ago, the six-times grand slam champion has crept back up one place to 10th this week while Venus sits two places above her.
Analysing her plight, Serena's simple verdict was: "I'm alive. I'm breathing. I'm healthy. Things could be worse."

Venus, who made her comeback in January after recovering from an abdominal strain, appears more frustrated with her lacklustre performance this season.

Overshadowed by Serena in recent years, Venus has failed to add to her haul of four majors since emerging victorious at Flushing Meadows in 2001.

"Losing matches is not normal for me," Venus said recently.
However, she has had to get used to losing this year as she has won only two events out of the eight she has played.
More frustrating for her is that she has failed to live up to her own high expectations at the slams.

A third-round exit in Melbourne was followed by a straight-sets quarter-final defeat at Roland Garros -- which she partly blamed on an ankle injury sustained in the run-up to the event.

While Venus and Serena may no longer have the ability to ambush their opponents from the moment they step on court, there is no doubting the sisters will do their level best to keep the Wimbledon title in the family come July 3.

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Williams sisters on opposite sides of draw



Associated Press
WIMBLEDON, England -- There could be a third straight all-Williams final at Wimbledon this year.





Serena, the two-time defending champion, and Venus, a former two-time winner, were placed in opposite halves of the women's draw Thursday.





The top-seeded Serena and No. 3 Venus could have been drawn in the same half, setting up a possible semifinal meeting.





But Serena wound up in the same half with fourth-seeded Amelie Mauresmo, while Venus was drawn on the same side with French Open champion and No. 2 Anastasia Myskina.





On the men's side, top-seeded defending champion Roger Federer has 2001 winner Lleyton Hewitt in his half, while No. 2 Andy Roddick has perennial British contender Tim Henman in his section.





The grass-court Grand Slam tournament begins Monday and ends July 4.





Some top names will be missing: Andre Agassi, the 1992 champion, withdrew Tuesday due to a hip injury, and women's No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne (viral illness) and No. 2 Kim Clijsters (wrist injury) pulled out last week.





Three top Russians are in Venus Williams' half of the draw: Myskina, French Open runner-up Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova, winner of last week's grass-court tournament in Birmingham, England.





The Williams sisters drew easy first-round matches: Serena against China's Jie Zheng and Venus vs. Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian of Switzerland.





Fifth-seeded Lindsay Davenport, the 1999 champion, plays Dally Randriantefy in the first round. No. 7 Jennifer Capriati opens against Claudine Schaul of Luxembourg.





Nine-time champion Martina Navratilova, 47, received a wild card to play singles at Wimbledon for the first time since losing in the 1994 final to Conchita Martinez.





She has a first-round match against Catalina Castano of Colombia. In the second round, Navratilova would meet either Jelena Dokic or Gisela Dulko, who beat her in straight sets in the first round of the French Open last month.





If the seedings hold, Serena Williams would face Capriati in the quarterfinals. The two met in the quarters at the French, with Capriati winning in three sets.





Venus could face Davenport in the quarters. In the others, Myskina could face No. 6 Dementieva in a rematch of the French Open final, and No. 4 Amelie Mauresmo could play No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova.





The Williams sisters have faced each other in six Grand Slam finals. During one stretch, the sisters won eight of 11 Grand Slam tournaments. But Venus last won a Slam in 2001, and Serena hasn't been in a major final since last year's Wimbledon.



Chat: Ask Venus Williams! Venus WilliamsDoes Venus think she'll win all in Wimbledon? Does she still get nervous? Ask her these questions and more in her chat on Friday at noon ET!





Serena had surgery on her left knee Aug. 1, and didn't return to the tour until March. Venus lost six months to a torn abdominal muscle, won consecutive tournaments in April and May, then hurt her left ankle at the German Open in May.





In the men's draw, Federer opens his title defense against a British wild card, Alex Bogdanovich, while Roddick will play a qualifier in the first round.





Federer has French Open champion and No. 3 Guillermo Coria in his half. But the Argentine clay-courter has never won a match at Wimbledon.





Potential men's quarterfinals: Federer vs. 2002 champ and seventh-seeded Hewitt, Coria vs. No. 6 Juan Carlos Ferrero, 2002 runner-up and No. 4 David Nalbandian against No. 5 Henman, and Roddick vs. No. 8 Rainer Schuettler of Germany.





Roddick, who could face Henman or Nalbandian in the semis, could have a few tricky early round matches. He could face Spanish teenage star Rafael Nadal in the second round and big-serving American Taylor Dent in the third.





Henman, who has reached the semifinals four times in his bid to become the first Briton to win the men's title since 1936, faces a potential fourth-round test against Mark Philippoussis, last year's losing finalist.





Unseeded Goran Ivanisevic, who won Wimbledon as a wild card in 2001, drew a tough first-round match against Russia's Mikhail Youzhny, seeded No. 31.





In perhaps the best first-round pairing, No. 13 Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand will go against Croatia's huge-serving Ivo Karlovic, who upset Hewitt in the first round last yea

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Serena, Venus Face Tough Roads to Another Final-Round Meeting




[img]http://www.********************/tr.net_photos_art/SERENA_sm_wb_02_toss.jpg[/img]
Photos: Susan & Fred Mullane/
Camerawork USA
Serena is going for a three-peat.[img]http://www.********************/tr.net_photos_art/VENUS_fm_wb_01_flowers.jpg[/img]Venmus hasn't held the big platter since '02.[img]http://www.********************/tr.net_photos_art/MYSKINA_fm_us_03.jpg[/img]Myskina hopes to test Venus again.

By Matthew Cronin
********************



Serena Williams lives in swanky Beverly Hills, while Venus Williams lives in a quiet part of South Florida. But they share a home away from home at SW19, the storied address of the Wimbledon Championships.

Venus won the title there in 2000 and 2001, while Serena went back to back there in 2002 and 2003. But both women are in an state of flux, with Serena having lost her a bit of stride after spending eight and half months off the tour due to a knee injury and Venus seemingly unable to play a month straight without re-injuring herself.

Two weeks ago, the sweet-swinging sisters were torched within 28 minutes of each other during the Roland Garros quarterfinals --- Serena by Jennifer Capriati in three sets and Venus in straight sets by eventual champ Anastasia Myskina. Serena was angry, Venus was depressed.

It was the first time in three years that the Williamses both lost before the semifinals of a Grand Slam that they both contested and the first time that they’ve lost in the same round in the 41 tournaments they’ve played together. "They’ve just came back and lost a lot of months," said Myskina. "Of course everyone believes they can at least fight with them."

Capriati agreed. "These days it’s not shocking," she said. "There are a lot of girls who have been playing a lot more than they have. And if anyone’s going to have a chance to beat them, it’s going to be on clay."

Fortunately for the sisters, Wimbledon plants grass in its dirt. Should they find consistently on their huge serves and develop confidence at the net, they should meet in the Wimbledon final for the fourth time (Venus beat Serena in ’01 and Serena took out her older sister in ’02 and ’03.).

But that’s a big if.

Venus looked as shaky and without confidence as she’s ever has against Myskina and Serena looked absurdly out of shape against Capriati. The Williamses fight hard so you know they will give it a go, but even battle-hungry heavyweights can get knocked out if they don’t keep their chins down. "We're both competitors more than anything," Venus said. We won't just sit back and accept a loss or a performance that below of what we expect of ourselves."
If this were last year, a quick glance at the Wimbledon draw would lead one to conclude that the Williamses have easy sailing until the quarterfinals. But not now. Serena should be able to scold grass greenhorn Jie Zheng of China in the first round, but could be pressed by big-serving Eleni Daniilidou of Greece in the third round and tricky Swiss lefty Patty Schnyder in the fourth round. And then, for what must be the 100 millionth time, she’ll face Capriati in a quarterfinal, her fierce rival who has beaten her the last two times they’ve played.

If she’s practiced hard in the past two weeks, Serena should have the edge on grass because Capriati will be unable to lengthen the points and tire her foe like she did at Roland Garros. But even if Serena gets by her compatriot, her semifinal could be much worse. Fourth seed Amelie Mauresmo, the only truly elite serve-and-volleyer, should be waiting. Without question, the Frenchwoman has enough weapons to down Serena. But Mauresmo has never won a major and despite the fact that she plays better away from home, has been pounded Serena here in the past and may not have enough self-belief to crank up her game when it really matters on Centre Court.

Even though she’s ranked No. 8, Venus was rightfully given the third seed due to her prior accomplishments here. She’ll have to find her form quickly against the powerful Swiss 20-year-old Marie-Gayane Mikaelian in the first round and then could face a tremendous task in knocking off fearless Croatian teen Karolina Sprem in round two. But she has enough savvy to win both contests, Unless American Meghann Shaughnessy rediscovers her game quickly, Venus should then cruise to the quarters, where she’ll likely confront 1999 Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport, who once owned her but whom she has had in her pocket the past two years.

This is likely the 28-year-old Davenport’s last real chance at Wimbledon title, so if she manages to push past tough Russian Vera Zvonareva in the fourth round, she’s sure to come out firing against Venus. (And no, despite her royal Wimbledon pedigree, ancient wild card Martina Navratilova has little chance of winning more than one match and won’t be standing in front of Davenport in the fourth round).

But Venus has proved match everything that the sore-kneed Davenport has to offer and is a far better mover. So really, Venus’ greatest test should come against one of the Russian in the semifinals: perhaps second seeded Myskina, 17-year-old shrieking sensation Maria Sharapova or possibly the revived 20th seed Elena Bovina. Venus would love to have a measure of revenge on Myskina, but the 22-year-old Russian is unlucky to get that far despite a truckload of new coincidence because she simply doesn’t have the weapons to match the demands of grass. Sharapova, who won the title in Birminghman last week, does.

However, even though Sharapova has the firepower to go toe to toe with Venus, she’s severely lacking in big match experience, which showed in her quarterfinal loss to Paola Suarez at Roland Garros. Venus’ four trip to the finals here should pull her through to yet another Wimbledon final round meeting with Serena.

So if the Williamses do walk on court and get that old magical feeling that Wimbledon champs rarely seem to lose, another Venus-Serena final should occur. That will set things right in the Williamses camp once again. Hopefully, like last year, the match will go three sets. Better yet, it will be played at the two close sibling’s highest levels, a feat they have yet to achieve. Serena has won their last six matches and the last five Grand Slam finals they contested. Venus has been staring up at Serena’s diamond navel ring for far to long now. Poetic justice demands that 24-year-old Venus will regain her orbit will grab her fifth Grand Slam title – her first in three years. Hollywood justice demands that the part-time actress Serena return to her dominating form. Yet WTA Tour justice demanded at the French that the sisters receive a harsh wake up call for their lack of play the past year and the other player may not be done meting out punishment just yet.

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post #10 of 55 (permalink) Old Jun 18th, 2004, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Chat Transcript Moderator: (11:45 AM ET ) Hi everybody, Venus will be joining us in 15 minutes! Keep sending in your questions and we'll get started shortly!!

Venus Williams: (12:00 PM ET ) Hello, thanks for joining us today!




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Jason (Springfield, VA): Venus, Happy Birthday from one 6/17/80 child to another! =)


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Kim (Rochester, NY): Venus, Happy Birthday! What was your favorite present? What did Serena get you?

Venus Williams: (12:01 PM ET ) I don't celebrate birthdays, actually.


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Regine (New York): Hi Vee: I hope both you and Serena are fully fit and ready to conquer Wimbledon again. Is your ankle completely better? and what about your abs? I want - very badly - either you or Serena to take this title again. Cheers Regine

Venus Williams: (12:02 PM ET ) Yes, my abdominals are an injury of the past and feeling much better and my ankle is much better ... and I'd like to take the title very badly too!


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Pat in Hampton, Virginia: The WTA has several clay court tournaments to help players prepare for Roland Garros, but with the short turn around between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, what is your philosophy in preparing for grass court tournaments like Wimbledon?

Venus Williams: (12:03 PM ET ) I go home, play on hardcourts for a week or two then head straight to grass. I don't need too much time to get used to that.


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Enjolique: Atlanta, GA: How do you feel about the preferential seeding at Wimbledon? Since it is in yours and Serena's favor, I know you can only dislike it so much, but what are your feelings toward it in general?

Venus Williams: (12:05 PM ET ) I don't really have any feelings towards them. I'm happy with them, I think it just reflects my performance last year at Wimbledon.


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Peter (Minneapolis, Minn): Hi Venus! I love you! If you weren't a tennis pro, what job would you most like to have right now?

Venus Williams: (12:06 PM ET ) I'd be a music producer and/or fashion designer and/or interior designer.


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Michelle Arrowhead, California: Venus, how do you feel about possibly making history at Wimbledon this year. Should you make the finals and win, you would become the first 3-time champ since Graf and the first to make 5-consecutive Wimbledon Finals since Martina Navratilova!

Venus Williams: (12:07 PM ET ) Actually, I wasn't even aware of that, you sure do study your stats! I'm happy with the previous years, but that's history, I just really want to do well this year. That's all. No pressure from stats.


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Keith (Arizona): Hi Venus!! Do you listen to any music or anything to get you psyched up before a match? What CDs are your favorite? Thanks!

Venus Williams: (12:08 PM ET ) My favorite band is 311. I hope and pray that I can make it to one of their shows this summer. I don't listen to music before matches -- but if i did, it would be 311.


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Rocky, Brooklyn, New York: It seemed as if, during your F0 run of this year, you were in the best shape of your life. Did you alter your training regimen in any way? Or, is it the result of your being relatively injury free that allowed you to get yourself and your game in the shape you wanted?

Venus Williams: (12:09 PM ET ) I had a lot of injuries this year, actually, and I still feel like I need to get into better shape, but obviously, I feel like I've had a real strong start in the last few monthis.


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Kurt Tokyo, Japan: Hi Venus. I imagine that when you play Serena you feel a battle between the love you have for winning and the love for your sister. Do you think its possible to get into the mind frame of "playing my best to beat Serena is actually a way of loving her?" Meaning, do you feel like you have ever been too soft with her? You are my favorite womens tennis player in the world and I will be routing for you!

Venus Williams: (12:11 PM ET ) Thanks Kurt. I play against my sister just like I play everyone else. I regret each loss and I learn from each loss. There is no reason I should be different with my sister, we are professionals. As soon as the match is over, we go back to being friends and sisters.


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Jess (Tipp City Ohio): Venus, i'm a huge fan of yours! Which style of matches are more enjoyable to you -- the ones where you are dominating and can can control the match and take care of business...or the close ones where you are constantly battling and you have to dig down deep to win? Good Luck at Wimbledon!

Venus Williams: (12:12 PM ET ) Thanks Jess. Obviously, tough matches are rewarding, but the easy ones actually are too b/c it means you are playing your game and doing everything right. So my answer would proabably be A) the easy ones!


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Mike. Vancouver BC: Hi Venus. What is your favourite tournament to win?And good luck

Venus Williams: (12:14 PM ET ) I don't know if I have a favorte. I can't pinpoint one ... but I want to win them all!


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Gordon, Spanish Town, JAMAICA: One Love Venus, Can the reaction from the fans in the crowd affect your game in a positive or negative way?

Venus Williams: (12:15 PM ET ) I have had some really positive fans, I remember once this fan shouted out particular advice and I heard it, and I followed it and it actually helped me win the match! I usually don't even hear specific things but I remember that one instance. Usually it doesn't come into play too much.


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Miles; Indianapolis, IN: Hey Venus, good luck to you and Serena the next two weeks. What players on the tour do you think will pose the biggest threat to you and Serena at Wimbledon? With Kim and Justine out with injuries, who do think is playing well right now and challenge you the most?

Venus Williams: (12:16 PM ET ) Everybody is playing really well!


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James, Santa Paula, California: Hi Venus, the favorite part of your game, for me, is your dry volleys. Your body language and face convey such a in charge and commanding attitude when you take the dry volleys. What is your favorite part of your game, and what do you feel you can always rely on when all else fails. Good Luck!

Venus Williams: (12:17 PM ET ) I always rely on my speed and my fight if nothing else works. Old faithful.


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Paul (New Haven): Hi Venus! Do you design your own outfits?

Venus Williams: (12:18 PM ET ) Yeah, I usually have some input. I just pick things that are fashionable and fun to wear. So many tennis outfits are so 'blah'.


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Jeff (Johnson City, TN ): How do you prepare differently for Wimbledon then you do other tournments.

Venus Williams: (12:19 PM ET ) Not imparticular, obviously, it helps to be more aggressive and to get into that aggressive mindset. But the basic preparation remains the same.


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Johanna Simsbury, CT: Happy Birthday! While I would hardly consider you old by any standards, do you do anything different in training these days to prepare yourself for playing the 16-18 year olds coming up through the ranks? Best of luck at Wimbledon.

Venus Williams: (12:20 PM ET ) Thanks, I think I'm acutually in much better shape than the teenages who I think get tired easily. I don't feel old yet!


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Stacey Richardson, Alaska: How big a part of your success do you contribute to your faith?

Venus Williams: (12:21 PM ET ) Every blessing comes from God, so, I definitely attribute my success from His blessings.


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Gail - Pacifica: What does this year's outfit look like? Can you give us a hint?

Venus Williams: (12:22 PM ET ) It's kind of like a hankerchief skirt ... you have to see it.


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Kyle: ( Sparta, GA): Hey Venus! What is the one thing that you must improve the most in order to get over the final hurdle at this years Wimbledon? Good Luck

Venus Williams: (12:24 PM ET ) Yeah, I'm basically just working on WINNING.


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Craig (Gladstone,MI): Venus, Have you ever considered competing with men as Michelle Wie, and Annika Sorenstam have? And why or why not?

Venus Williams: (12:24 PM ET ) No, because I LOVE the women's tour and I'm not trying to leave.


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Jon, Kentucky: Do you get tired of the questions about you and your sister? Or did you expect that once you became superstars, these types of questions would pop up?

Venus Williams: (12:25 PM ET ) I guess it depends on what the questions about me and my sister are. People can use their imagination. l


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Dele Kale: Prior to the French Open (FO), you were having relatively good success on the court by playing a more aggressive brand of tennis, going to the net more often and volleying more forcefully and effectively. You were even quoted as saying you liked your new approach to the games. Yet in the FO, particularly in your quarter final match against the eventual winner, Myskina, you chose to stay for most of the time at the baseline which turned out to be much less effective in countering one of the best baseliners on clay. Why? and do you wish you had been more aggressive? What is your strategy for Wimbledon?

Venus Williams: (12:28 PM ET ) Wish, hope -- too late now. My mind is on this event now and I think that the biggest thing is to never make the same mistake twice.


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Joey, Nj: What is the ultimate goal you want to accomplish before your tennis career is over?

Venus Williams: (12:29 PM ET ) I just want to enjoy the game and enjoy what I do. I would be aweful to play and not enjoy. When I enjoy it, I play even better. I just wanted to maintain that enjoyment.

Venus Williams: (12:30 PM ET ) Ok everybody, my time is up. Thanks so much for chatting with me today. I appreciate your questions. If you'd like any more information, be sure to check out my official website!


Venus Williams: (12:31 PM ET ) VenusWilliams.com

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post #11 of 55 (permalink) Old Jun 18th, 2004, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Navratilova fears trend-setters Williams going out of fashion


June 18, 2004
LONDON (AFP) - Wimbledon great Martina Navratilova fears the Williams sisters might have reached the end of their era because they don't take tennis seriously any more.

The nine-time Wimbledon champion accused Serena and Venus of treating the sport like a hobby and losing their invincibility.

The 47-year-old is a wildcard at this year's championships which start on Monday and believes it will be the most open women's tournament for years because of the absence of Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne and because the Williams sisters are not concentrating.

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"The Williamses are finding out that tennis cannot be just a hobby," she told the London Evening Standard.

"It needs to be a full-time deal because it takes such a long time to build up confidence and so little time to shatter it.

"Players used to go on court against either sister hoping they were not going to make a fool of themselves.

"Now even lower-ranked women know they can hang in there and get a respectable score.

"The better players know they can win, and that levels the playing field a tremendous amount. The aura of invincibility which the Williams sisters used to have has gone."

Serena is seeded No 1 for Wimbledon and Venus is ranked third even though neither has played much in the last year.

Reigning champion Serena only returned to competition in March after eight months out with a knee injury while her older sister missed the second half of 2003 with a stomach problem.

And Navratilova believes tennis is well down their list of priorities.

Serena has her own clothing label, Aneres, and is an aspiring actress, while Venus has an interior design business, V Starr Interiors, and is working towards a degree in fashion design.

And when the pair released a book this week they claimed they had been extremely hands-on over the last six months while it was produced.

At least the book is about the game, entitled How To Play Tennis, and is aimed at children.

Venus would not be drawn into a debate with Navratilova.

"You have to listen to what we say and any other statements that people make are just their opinions," she said.

"People seem to expect that because you're an athlete you have no right to focus on anything else. But you are who you are.

"You don't say, 'I have a job, so I can't be anyone else.' I'm preparing for life, not just for a sport. I do me off the court."

Serena admitted she was pleased to get some time out of the game because of her knee injury.

She designed clothes for Miss New Jersey in last September's Miss America beauty pageant and has been seen around America's movie scene, but she claimed she also missed the game.

"First of all it was like: 'Oh, what a relief. I don't have to wake up at seven o'clock and go on a court like I've done all my life'," she said.

"It had pretty much been the same routine since I was tiny. But it's not a problem. This is my career, my job.

"I wasn't born with a large sum of money in the bank so I have to work. Once I realise that, I feel blessed that my job allows me to travel the world and do so many things."

And a Williams sisters final is on the cards for a third year running at Wimbledon after Thursday's draw put them at either end of the field.

Venus was champion in 2000 and 2001 and Serena has won for the last two years.

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S. Williams Interview- Pre-Event
Sunday, June 20, 2004


THE MODERATOR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is my great pleasure in introducing Serena Williams, reigning Wimbledon Champion. Who would like to ask the first question?

Q. One would argue there hasn't been a great deal of excitement since you played your sister here a year ago. We've had some succession of injuries, some uninspiring finals, Key Biscayne, the French Open. Do you feel it's critical or urgent that the women's game reassert itself in the next 14 days?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the women's game, I've been gone for quite a bit. I came back, I resurfaced in Key Biscayne, haven't been really playing every week. But I think the women's game, I don't think that's a real major problem.

Q. Can you just talk about what it's like to come back here, just to be back. Seems like you would have fond memories of the grounds and this place.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I really like it here. It's a great atmosphere. I enjoy coming to Wimbledon. I really enjoy, you know, just being here and playing on the grass. Just everything about Wimbledon is really special. It's like no other Grand Slam.

You know, I've won it twice in a row. It's the only Grand Slam I won twice in a row, so that makes it special, as well.

Q. Is there any added pressure inasmuch as it must be sort of six or seven years since either you or your sister haven't held a Grand Slam? If neither of you win here, it will be the first time since '97 that one of you hasn't had one in the house.

SERENA WILLIAMS: It definitely wouldn't be '97. I never won a Grand Slam until '99. I know Venus was 2000.

You know, I've competed in one Grand Slam. You know, I'm really hard on myself, and I think a lot of people expect me to win a hundred percent of the time, and I expect myself to win 200% of the time. And so when you boil it down, when you think about it, it's like you're not going to win every match. No matter how good you are, no matter how much you try, you're not going to win everything.

So if you think about it that way, then it's really not that bad.

Q. What have you been doing to get yourself prepared for the grass?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I've been obviously practicing a lot. I've been doing a lot of off‑court work mentally. I've just been relaxing and enjoying myself.

Q. Can you elaborate on that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not everything's done on the court.

Q. What do you work on?

SERENA WILLIAMS: If I tell you.... I can't tell you (laughter).

Q. Say something about your first‑round match. Do you have any idea of your first‑round opponent?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm pretty sure someone in here was going to tell me who it is. I don't know who I play. And I'm just ‑‑ that's exactly what I usually do, I just focus on my game. And once I figure it out, then that way I won't be worried about who I'm playing.

Q. I understand you've been following the football, is that right?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Want to "Bend it like Beckham," yeah (laughter). I'm really excited about the English team.

Q. You like David?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I love David Beckham. I think he's a really good player. I've been following him since, what, the 2000 ‑‑ no, it was the '98 World Cup. So that was pretty exciting.

Q. He's married, though.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't like him like that. I just think he's a great athlete. I like Victoria, too. I think she's really cool.

Q. Did you think at all about playing a tournament between the French and here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, never, because I'm in Europe usually four weeks before the French, and then that's six weeks during the French. After that, I'd have to ‑‑ I honestly would go nuts. I've done it before maybe one year or two years, and it wasn't good on my mental state.

So I think it's best for me to go home. Even if it's just for two days, it's better for me to go home than to stay in Europe for too long.

Q. You could be the fifth woman to have won this title three times since Open tennis. Does that appeal to your sense of tradition?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, I have the rest of my career to think about that. It's not going to be the last time I play Wimbledon. So I'm going to have a lot of opportunities to become the fifth person. So that's exciting for me, for sure.

Q. Neither Clijsters or Henin are here. Does it make any difference for you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it makes a difference for the tour, I guess. Like I say, it doesn't matter who I play or when I play. I think you always have to be on your game whether you're playing the No. 1 player, the No. 2 player, the No. 1000 player.

I think it's a shame that they couldn't make it but, you know, at the end of the day, the tournament is still here.

Q. You've been out for eight months. They're out now. Is there any advice you could give them, what would that be?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Enjoy the time off (laughter). You know, just enjoy it.

Q. Take as long as they want?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Take as long as you want. Go out, live a little.

Q. Does it become harder and harder to come back after an injury break?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it comes easier because if you're gone for a little while, you're just really pressed to get back on tour. And I'm really excited. I was really excited myself to really come back. I was like really itching and itching to get back out there.

So it definitely ‑‑ I think it's easier because you're so ready to come back and play.

Q. With the practice you've done on grass this week, how would you describe the state of your game and confidence level going in?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Solid. Solid.

Q. Is rustiness an issue at this point?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm knocking off a lot of the rust. So if I just stay calm...

I'm too much of a perfectionist. I just want to do it perfect every time. My dad is consistently telling me that, you know, "Serena, you've got to relax. You've got to relax." I think that's the only factor. I just really want everything to be perfect.

Q. Is there more of an element of working into the tournament and getting accustomed to competition on grass here than on the other surfaces?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, I think that's always an element. I think going into any different surface, from clay to grass, grass to hard, I think that's always going to be an element, to just work in a few matches and get used to the surface, and then really start to play your game.

Q. Myskina obviously won the French. Since then, Sharapova won in Birmingham, Kuznetsova won in Eastbourne yesterday. Which do you consider is the best Russian player? Do you consider them to be a threat to your title?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think ‑‑ who do I think is the best Russian player? I can't say. I don't know. There's so many.

I think, I always say ‑ I'm sounding redundant here ‑ but I think anyone is a threat to the title if they believe that they can win. And if I get too overconfident playing anyone, I could end up going home early. And that's not anything I want to do.

It's just important for me to just not get, you know, overconfident, just stay relaxed and stay focused.

Q. How long did it take you to get over the disappointment? You played fairly poorly in Paris against Jennifer. What lessons did you learn from that match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, after my suicide in Paris, you know, I was really disappointed (smiling). I don't know. I don't know why I did some of those things.

No matter what I do, how hard I try, I'm not going to be able to rewind time. So I have to move forward. I've had to get over it.

Q. What was your reaction to Donatella, I think she bid $25,000 for a private lesson with you? Can you talk about that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: That was really exciting. I love Donatella Versace. Her collection's always drop‑dead gorgeous to me. We always try to get inspired by her line. We've been trying to hook up for a little while now. So it was a perfect opportunity at AMFAR to meet her.

I went over there. I was like, "Oh, hi, how are you?" I just love Donatella, I love everything she stands for. I think she's kind of the epitome of a fashion icon and she always looks great in her Versace gowns.

Q. Is there someone you would bid $25,000 to learn their craft from?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes.

Q. Who?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I would bid 25 or more for a guitar or anything from Green Day.

Q. What went into your preparations for deciding what you're going to wear here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, it was a lot. I mean, months before. We were working on different designs. You know, I had a lot of different ideas. I wanted to bring back some different stuff. Without getting too overly saying anything, I wanted to bring back, yeah, some different designs, you know, kind of '80s. I'm really influenced by the '80s. I love the '80s, from the music, to the dances, to the movies. So that's kind of what I wanted to do here. That's what I told Nike.

She came up with some different designs. It was a couple months preparation, and we finally were able to perfect it just before the French Open.

Q. Pam Shriver said recently once a player wins at Wimbledon, they sort of come back here and have a feeling that they own the tournament more than any other event in tennis. What are your comments on that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't feel that way because I feel that I'm just a competitor here and I'm really competing to try to win the title again. I mean, obviously I don't want to give up my title. So I feel that I have to really work even more hard because people are here trying to thieve it from me. So I have to be careful.

Q. Are you staying with Venus here? Can you talk about, are you sharing a practice partner like in Paris? What is the arrangement here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no, we're staying together. We usually hit together. But, you know, now that we're playing on separate days, we have our hitting partner as well, just in case I can't practice with her.

And basically, I mean, that's it.

Q. Do you think you're still as serious about tennis as before, when you dominated the sport? Do you think you're as serious about the sport as before?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I'm actually even more serious now because I think before when I was doing really ‑‑ not that I'm doing bad now really, but before when I was able to play, I think I took it for granted. You know, I was winning, yeah, but it was like, "Oh, whatever." But now it's a totally different attitude. I'm really serious about it and I really want to win. And I really just ‑‑ I just hate to lose.

Q. You had a little problem with your knee I think after the Nasdaq. Has anything reoccurred since then?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've been doing pretty good. I was really surprised at how well it held up on the French with all the clay I've been playing and practicing on. So I've been, you know, really excited.

I think the grass is one of the best surfaces for it, so I'm really excited about that.

Q. Would you say you're a hundred percent physically?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I'm physically pretty close to a hundred percent, yeah.

Q. Back to the private lesson. Do you have any idea when that will come off?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. She's ready to design a dress for me, so I'm definitely going to look into that. Maybe while she's designing, I can watch her, and she can work on the lesson, have tea and coffee, whatever she wants to do. I'm really excited about it. She was really excited about designing a dress for me, as well.

Q. Did you once promise Clijsters to design her wedding dress?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Did I?

Q. I heard so.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I wasn't aware of that. But, I mean, I'm sure she has her things under control. She's looking really good these days.

Q. Seeing as you're influenced by the '80s, do you have a favorite tune from the '80s?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I just love the '80s. I like the fashion more than anything. I like the whole sleeve off, you know, the golds, just the hairstyle, the big curly. I've been wearing my hair really big and curly lately.

I'm more or less into the fashion. The music had pretty much all the same beat. I like Depeche Mode a lot.

Q. Human League?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Human Lead?

Q. On that decade, do you remember the first Wimbledon final you saw on TV?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. What was the first Wimbledon final I saw? I can't remember. I know I think Bjorn Borg and McEnroe was '81, right?

Q. Right.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was born in '81. Heck of a memory (laughter). Whew, yeah.

I want to say Boris Becker. I was in love with Boris Becker. I thought he was a great player. When he was 17 and won, that was ‑‑ was that '80?

Q. '85.

SERENA WILLIAMS: How could I remember that? I must have been watching films later on. That's impossible to remember it then.

Q. Following the French, did you and Venus sort of talk things through about what happened there and how to prepare for Wimbledon?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. We both basically tried to commit suicide there, so (laughter).

You know, we were both ‑‑ no, we just were both pretty disappointed in ourselves. But like I said, we had to get over it quickly because there was Wimbledon around the corner, and we don't want to bring the bad karma to Wimbledon. We can just start fresh. That's the good thing about tennis, you have a new week and you can start again.

Q. Do you handle things on your own or do you look to each other for support?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We talk real bad to each other. I'll say mean things like, "I can't believe, I was just so silly." She say, "Yeah, I was even worse." I say, "No, Venus, it's impossible, I was worse." We go back and forth with that and kind of laugh.

We realize we didn't do really bad, our opponents just played really well. We were just joking and get over it. You can't live in the past, you've got to live in the future and in the present because if you live in the past, then ‑‑ you know, I'd still be in the '80s right now.

Q. Who do you think takes losing harder, you or Venus?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's hard to say. We both take it in a different way, in a different angle. I'm more outwardly with it. She's definitely more inward with it. But at the same time, yeah, I don't know. I know I used to definitely take it worse. But we both really enjoy being champions.

I think being a champion, you have to be able to take a loss, as well, and not only win.

Q. Last year here all your sisters and your parents were both here. Is there any sense of it being a little hard to come back here since that was the last time you were all together?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I thought about it once. But, you know, we're here and I'm really trying to focus on the tennis aspect of it.

Q. When you thought about it, I mean, is that hard to then put it out of your mind?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I displace a lot of my energy, put it all towards the ball, towards the racquet. I put it all towards my game. Especially now for this fortnight, I want to really, really do well. That's where I put all my energy into, is trying to do well.

Q. Did I read that Venus was suffering from her wrist? Venus, is she suffering from her wrist?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not that I'm aware of.

Q. No?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No.

Q. When did you start practicing on the grass?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Tuesday.

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Serena Plans to 'Bend It Like Beckham'
Serena Williams has big plans for Wimbledon. "I'm going to bend it like Beckham," she laughs.


Williams says she is fully fit and raring to go as she prepares to defend the only grand slam title left in her possession.


She also claims to be drawing inspiration from England's soccer captain.


"I love David Beckham," she said at the All England Club on Sunday. "I am really excited about the England team at Euro 2004.


"I'm going to be watching the matches...and I've been following Beckham since the World Cup in '98."


The Williams family have not been without a grand slam title since 1998, putting added pressure on Serena.


"I have to work really hard here," she said. "People are here trying to thieve my title from me.


"I think anyone is a big threat to my title. If I get over-confident I could end up going home early and that is not something I want to do."


BAD KARMA


Both Serena and elder sister Venus lost in the quarter-finals of the French Open last month and Serena is determined not to repeat that disappointment.


"Oh my God... my suicide in Paris," she groaned. "I was so disappointed. But no matter what I do or how hard I try I am not going to be able to rewind time.


"I have just got to get over it, you know? I didn't want to bring the bad karma to Wimbledon.


"You can't live in the past. You have to live in the present and in the future. If I lived in the past I would still be in the '80s."


Dismissing suggestions she has become distracted from tennis and is diverting time and energy away from the court and into her nascent acting career, the top seed said: "I am more serious about tennis than ever.


"Before when I was winning...when I was able to play all the time it was like 'whatever'," she grinned. "Now it is different. I really want to win...I just hate to lose.


"Physically I am close to 100 percent. But you know, everybody expects me to win 100 percent of the time...I expect myself to win 200 percent of the time but no matter how good you are, you are not going to win every match you play."


Serena has not even looked at who she will meet in the first round. "I don't know," she smiled. "All I can do is get myself ready, get my game going and then whoever I play that's okay."

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Much different for Williams sisters in return to Wimbledon
June 20, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

WIMBLEDON, England -- So much has changed for Serena Williams and Venus Williams since they were last at the All England Club.

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A year ago, Serena beat her older sister to win a second straight Wimbledon, the fifth time in six majors they met for the championship. They owned 10 Grand Slam titles, had swapped the No. 1 ranking and carried a serious intimidation factor.

These days, the siblings are working to get their games in gear, their bodies healthy and their minds at peace. They lost in the French Open quarterfinals, the first time both exited a tournament on the same day.

"We both basically tried to commit suicide there," Serena said Sunday, apparently referring to how poorly they played in Paris. "But we had to get over it quickly, because there was Wimbledon around the corner, and we don't want to bring the bad karma to Wimbledon. We can just start fresh."

Take away all-in-the-family matches, and the sisters are 46-1 at Wimbledon since 2000. That factored into Serena's No. 1 seeding, nine spots above her ranking, and Venus' No. 3 seeding, a five-place jump.

Venus reached four consecutive finals here, winning in 2000-01, while Serena can become only the third woman in the last 35 years (joining Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova) to win three consecutive Wimbledons.

But it has been a tough 12 months. They've been forced to try to deal with the death of a sister, injuries (Serena had knee surgery Aug. 1; Venus was out with a torn abdominal muscle, then a twisted ankle), uneven play (neither has been to a Grand Slam semifinal), and how to reconcile the demands of tennis with other interests (acting for Serena, interior decorating for Venus, clothes designing for both).

Serena offered an insight into their mind-sets when a Belgian reporter wondered what advice she'd give top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne and No. 2 Kim Clijsters, who are sidelined.

"Enjoy the time off," she answered. "Take as long as you want. Go out, live a little."

Serena has only played 19 matches since Wimbledon in 2003, fewer than anyone else ranked in the top 15 has this season alone. Since winning her first tournament after an eight-month layoff, Serena is 10-3, making merely one semifinal.

"A lot of people expect me to win 100 percent of the time, and I expect myself to win 200 percent of the time," she said. "No matter how good you are, no matter how much you try, you're not going to win everything."

Still, the Williams mystique is fading.

Consider what Jennifer Capriati said 15 months ago: "They definitely intimidate people a lot. They've come close to losing, but people can't believe that they have a chance of beating them."


Success hasn't come as easy to Venus Williams and her sister of late.(Getty Images)
Now consider what French Open champion Anastasia Myskina said Sunday: "They were not at their best lately. More players believe at least they can fight with them."

About 24 hours before the tournament's start, Serena wasn't aware who her first foe is. Perhaps that's a sign of confidence - or an indication her thoughts are elsewhere.

Asked how she prepared for playing on grass, Serena said: "I've been doing a lot of off-court work mentally," but she wouldn't go into specifics.

For the record, Serena opens Tuesday against Zheng Jie of China. Venus plays Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian of Switzerland on Monday.

The honor of opening Centre Court goes to the defending men's champion, Roger Federer. He didn't know much about his opponent, so he asked players and coaches for tips on Alex Bogdanovic, a British wild card ranked 307th.

Federer is wary of an upset, having lost in the first round in 1999, 2000 and 2002.

That's part of why he arrived at Wimbledon in 2003 bearing the tag of someone who couldn't win the big ones. His triumph here began an ascendancy that includes a second Slam at the Australian Open, the No. 1 ranking, and a 39-4 record with five titles.

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It's a "different kind of pressure I feel, because last year it was more about trying to make that first breakthrough in a Grand Slam. And this year, it's trying to defend the title," said Federer, whose practice session Sunday was cut short by rain.

"All the focus is on me. Also, from my own side, I put a lot of pressure on myself. When I step on court Monday, it's going to be strange feelings."

Serena and Venus might experience something similar as they walk the grounds at the All England Club.

In 2003, they were accompanied by their divorced parents and sisters Yetunde, Lyndrea and Isha. When Venus struggled with the pain of her abdominal injury during her semifinal against Clijsters, Yetunde delivered a pep talk during a rain delay.

That was the last time the whole family was together. Yetunde, 31, was shot to death 2 months later.

"I thought about it once. But we're here and I'm really trying to focus on the tennis aspect of it," Serena said. "I displace a lot of my energy, put it all towards the ball, towards the racket. I put it all towards my game. Especially now, for this fortnight, I want to really, really do well."


AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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post #15 of 55 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2004, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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Williams sisters are ready to put year of pain out to grass

By John Roberts



21 June 2004

The moment the Williams sisters left Centre Court a year ago - Serena with the women's singles title, Venus with the runner-up prize - everything started to go wrong, both for them and their family.

First came the injuries. Venus, who damaged a stomach muscle during a tournament in Poland the previous April and struggled to keep the appointment with Serena in the Wimbledon final, continued to suffer for the rest of the year. If the stomach muscle was not giving her jip, twisted ankles took over. In Serena's case, her knees began to give way and she had to have surgery. Both players missed the US Open and have spent more time with physiotherapists than on the court.

Then, in September, there was a tragedy. Their half-sister, Yetunde Price, was shot dead in the notorious Los Angeles suburb of Compton, where Venus and Serena first played tennis on park courts.

Indeed, so much has befallen the powerful Americans, the dominant forces in women's tennis after the turn of the century, that some people wonder if a combination of physical problems and outside interests has all but finished them as major players.

For the moment, if they are able to raise their games, events beyond their control may conspire to help them extend their prosperity on the lawns of SW19, where viable challengers seem as scarce as 47-year-olds with wild cards.

At the recent French Open, two of a burgeoning group of Russian players, Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva, participated in a derisory final.

This reflected poorly on the Williams sisters, who were eliminated within minutes of each other in the quarter-finals, Serena ("I was an amateur today") losing to Jennifer Capriati, Venus, who twisted an ankle, losing to Myskina. The Williamses had neither the preparation nor the fitness to capitalise on the absence of the injured Kim Clijsters and the early elimination of Justine Henin-Hardenne, who tried to come back too soon after a glandular illness.

The two Belgians, who had supplanted the Williamses at the head of the women's game, will not be playing at Wimbledon, which gives Serena and Venus another opportunity to flex their muscles.

But do they still have the ambition that marked them out as champions? When Venus arrived on the scene, in October 1994, everybody marvelled at her development away from the customary route of junior tournaments. Her father, the eccentric Richard Williams, expressed no surprise. He simply advised the tennis community that his youngest daughter, Serena, was almost ready to make her move and that the girls would take turns as No 1 in the world. He was spot on.

Venus and Serena, who share a house in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, have won more than 16m between them in prize money and millions more from advertising and endorsements. They have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles.

The 24-year-old Venus won Wimbledon and the United States Open in 2000 and 2001. Serena, 22, won the US Open in 1999 and went on to win the four majors in a row from June 2002 - the French Open, Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open - calling the feat "The Serena Slam". Serena defeated Venus in all four finals, and went on to beat Venus in the Wimbledon final last July.

In addition, Venus runs her own interior design business and Serena has her own fashion label and also has tried her hand at acting. Serena has appeared as often on the front pages attending celebrity events as she has on the back pages winning tournaments. "I'm an actress, I'm a model and an athlete. I put athlete third on my list," she was quoted as saying in April.

It has been suggested that the urge to change direction may be even stronger for Venus, who has been eclipsed by her younger sister. Richard Williams has in the past dropped hints that he expected Venus to leave tennis within a few years. She is studying for a degree in interior design and sometimes appears weary of the demands of professional tennis.

"It's not exactly normal to play tennis five hours a day every day," Venus said earlier this year. "That wears on your body. I haven't had to have surgery yet at all, so in a way I'm fortunate with that. But I have had injuries that put you in a hard place, injuries that are hard to heal."

The sisters either bristle or make light of the notion that their other activities impinge on their tennis. "I don't have any acting gig right now," Serena smiled. "It's not like I get acting gigs all the time. And designing is something really easy. It's all about sketching. Sure, it's a lot about fabrics, but usually other people get my fabrics for me. It's actually relaxing for me just to be drawing.

"Being on tour as a tennis player, the majority of my time is spent in the hotel, and when I'm in my room there's a lot of stuff I can be doing. I could be drawing, I could be making new dresses, I could be reading scripts, whatever it takes. I always try to put use to my time."

What had she learned from acting? "Never show anyone your emotions. When you're on the court, you kind of have to act: I'm angry, but I'm not going to show I'm angry, or I'm sad, but I'm not going to show that I'm sad, or I'm tired, but I'm going to keep the same expression on my face. You can't do that when you're acting, but that's how I try to act on the court."

Venus, asked after losing at the French Open how long she thought it would be before Serena and herself were able to dominate again, did not hesitate. "Next event," she said. "We're both competitors more than anything, and athletes. We compete very well. So we won't just sit back and accept a loss or accept a performance that's below what we expect of ourselves."

Serena is relishing the opportunity of becoming the first woman to complete a hat-trick of Wimbledon singles titles since Steffi Graf in 1993. "I love Wimbledon," Serena said. "I love winning Wimbledon. It gets no better than winning Wimbledon, I'm convinced. I like everything about it: the grass, the white outfits, the atmosphere. Pete Sampras felt the same way about winning Wimbledon.

"I love the US Open as well. I love New York and I love playing on that big court. But there's something about Wimbledon that I can't get enough of. Winning the Australian [last year] was a big thing. That was four [Grand Slam tournaments] in a row for me. Then winning Wimbledon again was great."

That is a particularly happy memory after her experience at last year's French Open, when she was in tears in the interview room after being booed and jeered on the court during her semi-final against Henin-Hardenne.

"You're right," Serena said. "That really put an exclamation point on Wimbledon. That really made me way more excited and determined to just dust myself off and go out there and win. What happened in Paris was very unfair. But it was life. Afterwards I was thinking I could actually have done a lot better, but at the end of the day I think I showed a lot of aplomb, a lot of self-assuredness and class, and I handled the situation pretty well.

"You truly are a champion when you do things other than win. No one really appreciates you as a champion, no matter how many titles you win. It's like: 'OK, who really cares?' That's their point. They want the real champ."

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