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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old Nov 10th, 2004, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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2004 WTA Championship

Serena not in contention for No. 1 ranking
Nov. 9, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

LOS ANGELES -- Serena Williams squeaked into this week's WTA Championships, but she's out of contention for the year-end No. 1 ranking, leaving Lindsay Davenport and Amelie Mauresmo to contend for the top spot.

"It doesn't matter that I have no real shot at No. 1 because I feel like I have less pressure and it really doesn't matter. It's OK," she said Tuesday. "It's like Tiger (Woods). It's weird when Tiger loses. It's kind of weird when I lose. It's definitely bigger news for me to lose. I make people's careers."

Williams won the tournament in 2001 and lost to Jennifer Capriati in the 2002 final, then missed last year while recovering from knee surgery.

She has won two titles and has a 36-7 match record this year -- respectable, but not up to her Grand Slam expectations. Not winning one of the year's four major tournaments "definitely increased my intensity to want to work harder and do better," Williams said.

Her attention isn't entirely on tennis this week.

A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the case of a 24-year-old man charged with killing the half-sister of Serena and Venus after jurors said they could not reach a verdict.

A mistrial also was declared Friday in the case of Robert Edward Maxfield's co-defendant, Aaron Michael Hammer, after a separate jury deadlocked in favor of acquittal. Hammer was accused of shooting at Yetunde Price with a .22-caliber handgun in 2003, but prosecutors said the shot that killed her came from Maxfield.

"It's really hard," Williams said. "Obviously, we want a good ending to it, but we'll see."

Williams opens play at Staples Center on Wednesday night against French Open champion Anastasia Myskina, one of five Russians in the eight-player field. U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova plays fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva, and Davenport takes on Elena Dementieva.

"It's a great field and you have to come out in the beginning on your top game," Williams said. "Everyone is going to want to win."

The players are assigned to two four-woman groups and they play each other once. The two players with the best record from each group advance to Sunday's semifinals. The singles winner will earn $1 million and a car to donate to charity.

Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova plays her first match against Kuznetsova on Thursday night, when Mauresmo takes on Zvonareva and Williams plays Dementieva.

Both Davenport and Mauresmo could end the year at No. 1, despite not winning a Grand Slam title. The same thing happened last year to Belgian Kim Clijsters.

"I personally would loved to have a Grand Slam title (this year) and be competing for No. 1," Davenport said. "It's a little bit different of a feeling."

Mauresmo spent five weeks in the top spot after the U.S. Open before Davenport overtook her.

"I have a great opportunity even though Lindsay is still ahead," Mauresmo said. "She's been playing some great tennis the last six months, so she's not going to let it go. It's a good competition."

Tournament organizers have focused their advertising on Sharapova, the 17-year-old blond beauty who stunned tennis by winning Wimbledon in July. Her leggy image is featured in a tournament poster with the tag line, "The closer you sit the hotter she gets."

"I love her legs in this picture. Her legs are so sexy," Williams said, studying the black and white shot of Sharapova sitting on a court. "She is not being sold in this picture. This is a hot picture. If you're not ready to sell pictures, then you shouldn't be part of the tournament. Unfortunately, I hate to say it, but sex sells."

Tournament director John Arrix said organizers weren't able to promote Williams because she didn't qualify until late last week, when her older sister Venus lost in Philadelphia, which allowed Serena into the field. Capriati also failed to qualify.

Sharapova withdrew from last week's tournament in Philadelphia with a strained right shoulder that she originally injured three weeks ago in Zurich.

"I don't really want to think about it," she said. "I've been working strength-wise on different muscles around my shoulder. The pain in Philadelphia was actually less than in Zurich, but I still felt that I needed to take time off."

Sharapova blamed the type of balls used at indoor tournaments for her injury. The Tretorn-made balls will be used this week.

"I do feel they're a bit heavy on my arm," she said, adding that changing brands is under discussion the WTA and its players. "I'm sure the tour doesn't want anybody injured. It's very important to help those players that are injured."

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old Nov 11th, 2004, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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Serena Williams, U.S. Open champ Kuznetsova win at WTA Championships
Beth HarrisCanadian Press


November 11, 2004



1 | 2 | NEXT >>Serena Williams celebrates after winning a point against Anastasia Myskina.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Serena Williams rallied from a set and two service breaks down to beat French Open champion Anastasia Myskina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the WTA Championships on Wednesday night.

U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova avoided a second-set collapse and held on to defeat Russian countrywoman Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-4 in round-robin play. Lindsay Davenport, the world's No. 1 player, faced Elena Dementieva in the late match at Staples Center. Backed by a hometown crowd of 8,127, Williams overcame 61 unforced errors to improve to 4-0 lifetime against Myskina. The Russian had never taken a set from Williams in three previous meetings.

Myskina led 3-0 in the second during a stretch when Williams won just three points in four games, including the last game of the first set.

"I was just thinking I won the match. When I was ahead I stepped back and was hoping for her mistakes," Myskina said. "Serena started playing better."

Trailing 3-0, Williams reeled off eight straight games over the second and third sets. She was ahead 2-0 in the third when Myskina won three consecutive games to take a 3-2 lead. Williams staved off three break points to hold at 3-all. She broke Myskina in the next game and held at 5-3.

Myskina held to trail 5-4 before Williams needed four match points to close out the victory. Together, the players combined for 102 unforced errors and just 53 winners in the two-hour match.

"It was definitely bizarre," said Williams, who won the tournament in 2001 and lost in the '02 final. "I was trying to get used to her game since I hadn't played her (since 2002). I really wanted to win."

Williams displayed her fashion sense with two layers of ruffles and pink trim on her white skirt, a pink sleeveless top, hot pink underpants and pink and white shoes that resembled golf cleats.

"It's classic country club," she said. "It's not too daring. Pink is my favourite colour and the pom pon socks, of course."

Kuznetsova blew most of a 5-1 lead in the second set when there were seven service breaks. Zvonareva won three straight games to trail 5-4.

Kuznetsova set up her first match point with a forehand winner. On her second match point, she pulled a backhand wide, then netted a forehand to get to deuce. Kuznetsova smacked a huge forehand for her third match point, before sending a forehand long for deuce. Zvonareva netted a forehand to set up the fourth match point, then missed a backhand to end the match.

"I got a little bit nervous," said Kuznetsova, who hadn't played a match in about three weeks. "She wasn't playing her best."

Zvonareva managed just one break point on Kuznetsova's serve in the first set.

Zvonareva slammed balls and her racket on the hard court several times without penalty. She departed without talking to reporters.

The players are assigned to Red and Black four-woman groups and play each other once. The two players with the best record from each group advance to Sunday's semifinals. The singles winner will earn $1 million US and a car to donate to charity.

Serena Williams, U.S. Open champ Kuznetsova win at WTA Championships



Both Kuznetsova and Zvonareva, among five Russians in the eight-player field, are making their debuts in the season-ending championships.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old Nov 11th, 2004, 11:37 AM Thread Starter
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Serena rallies; Davenport, Kuznetsova roll at WTA Championships


Nov. 10, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports
LOS ANGELES -- Serena Williams rallied from a set and two service breaks down to beat French Open champion Anastasia Myskina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the WTA Championships on Wednesday night.

U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova avoided a second-set collapse and held on to defeat Russian countrywoman Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-4 in round-robin play.

Lindsay Davenport, the world's No. 1 player, defeated Elena Dementieva 6-0, 6-1 in a match that ended just before midnight.

"I've been dying the last two nights trying to stay awake until 11 p.m.," said Davenport, who typically goes to sleep at 9 p.m. because her investment banker husband gets up at 5 a.m. for work.

Davenport was serving at 4-1 when she and Dementieva battled through 18 deuces before the American raised her arms in triumph as if the match was over. She was up 5-1 and then broke Dementieva to end the match.

"It seemed like 5-all in the third," Davenport said. "It was one of those games that got more dramatic as it went on, a really crazy game."

Backed by a hometown crowd of 8,127 at Staples Center, Williams overcame 61 unforced errors to improve to 4-0 lifetime against Myskina. The Russian had never taken a set from Williams in three previous meetings.

Myskina led 3-0 in the second during a stretch when Williams won just three points in four games, including the last game of the first set.

"I was just thinking I won the match. When I was ahead I stepped back and was hoping for her mistakes," Myskina said. "Serena started playing better."

Trailing 3-0, Williams reeled off eight straight games over the second and third sets. She was ahead 2-0 in the third when Myskina won three consecutive games to take a 3-2 lead. Williams staved off three break points to hold at 3-all. She broke Myskina in the next game and held at 5-3.

Myskina held to trail 5-4 before Williams needed four match points to close out the victory. Together, the players combined for 102 unforced errors and just 53 winners in the two-hour match.

"It was definitely bizarre," said Williams, who won the tournament in 2001 and lost in the '02 final. "I was trying to get used to her game since I hadn't played her (since 2002). I really wanted to win."


Williams displayed her fashion sense with two layers of ruffles and pink trim on her white skirt, a pink sleeveless top, hot pink underpants and pink and white shoes that resembled golf cleats.

"It's classic country club," she said. "It's not too daring. Pink is my favorite color and the pom pon socks, of course."

Kuznetsova blew most of a 5-1 lead in the second set when there were seven service breaks. Zvonareva won three straight games to trail 5-4.

Kuznetsova set up her first match point with a forehand winner. On her second match point, she pulled a backhand wide, then netted a forehand to get to deuce. Kuznetsova smacked a huge forehand for her third match point, before sending a forehand long for deuce. Zvonareva netted a forehand to set up the fourth match point, then missed a backhand to end the match.

"I got a little bit nervous," said Kuznetsova, who hadn't played a match in about three weeks. "She wasn't playing her best."

Zvonareva managed just one break point on Kuznetsova's serve in the first set.

Zvonareva slammed balls and her racket on the hard court several times without penalty. She departed without talking to reporters.

The players are assigned to Red and Black four-woman groups and play each other once. The two players with the best record from each group advance to Sunday's semifinals. The singles winner will earn $1 million and a car to donate to charity.

Both Kuznetsova and Zvonareva, among five Russians in the eight-player field, are making their debuts in the season-ending tournament.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old Nov 11th, 2004, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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Tennis stars drive themselves crazy
By Miki Turner
Special to Page 3[/b]

LOS ANGELES -- It's always entertaining to see athletes and actors break out of their boxes and try something daring, and perhaps even dangerous. It was especially gratifying Tuesday as Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Amelie Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova and several other WTA top female players, fired up their engines and took a few Porsche Cayenne SUVs for a competitive spin.

Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams just wanna see the keys.
With an ESPN billboard advertising the Dale Earnhardt biopic "3" ironically looming in the distance, the participants -- who also included Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva and Jennifer Capriati -- congregated across the street from the Staples Center for the WTA Tour Championships' Porsche-sponsored event.



"I'm just nervous about the paperwork," Williams joked. "I can't hold anybody liable! If I get hurt, I want to be able to hold somebody liable!"

Capriati, an alternate at this week's season-ending tourney, was as nervous as she was unprepared. Apparently, she didn't get the memo regarding proper foot attire -- no heels. So, she borrowed a pair of Filas from Kuznetsova.

"I just don't want to be the last one," Capriati said. "I don't want to be the slowest or hit the most cones."

With some trepidation and, um, intimidation from above, the athletes got a crash course in maneuvering vehicles through strategically-placed, orange cones.

The top three finishers were Mauresmo, followed by Kuznetsova and Davenport.

Davenport, ranked No. 1 in the world in tennis, took to the road quite nicely.

"It was funny going through the course and trying to weave through the cones and still go fast, but it was exciting. It was a little scary. One corner, I probably took a little hot."



Meanwhile Sharapova, who only got her driving license three months ago, was enlightened. "This is totally different -- definitely an experience," she said. "It was very good though. I love speed, corners. It was fun."

But did the inexperienced driver have any mishaps? "I think I knocked down a cone, gosh darn it!"

Williams, who's used to being at the top of the pack, didn't crack the top three but enjoyed the experience nonetheless. "I have an SUV and a sports car and I drive very fast," she said. "I feel a real need to speed. I've always said I should be a race car driver because I drive so fast."

For her racing efforts, Mauresmo won the opportunity to enjoy the Porche Driving Experience. Meanwhile, the winner of the tournament which begins Wednesday night at Staples (Nov. 10-15), gets to donate a Porche to her favorite charity.

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Mauresmo Makes Crushing Start, Williams Posts Second Win
Fri Nov 12, 2004 06:55 AM ET



By Matthew Cronin



LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Amelie Mauresmo made a powerful start in her bid to end the year as world number one with a 6-1, 6-0 rout of Vera Zvonareva at the WTA Championships Thursday.

Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova also made a strong debut by beating U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-4, while former winner Serena Williams posted her second victory in the eight-woman tournament, 7-6, 7-5 against Elena Dementieva.

Second-ranked Mauresmo, looking to topple number one Lindsay Davenport, played inspired tennis throughout the 54-minute contest.

The Frenchwoman committed only six unforced errors to 25 from Zvonareva who was clearly tired from playing five weeks in a row to qualify for the tournament.

Serving with variety and authority and controlling play off the ground with deep, booming groundstrokes, Mauresmo cracked 15 winners.

"She was very confident, served really well and hit unbelievable groundstrokes," said Zvonareva, who has now lost twice in the Black Group.

"It's tough for me to come here for the first time and show my best game," said the Russian, at number eight the lowest seed in the tournament.

Sharapova, hitting winners from all over the court, withstood a strong rally from Kuznetsova in the second set, breaking her to take their Black Group match with an inside-out backhand return winner.

The 17-year-old had lost her only two previous meetings with her fellow Russian but, playing on a fast indoor surface, she was able to keep the points short and dictate play with her serve and return. She hit 23 winners to only nine from Kuznetsova.

"Playing indoors is to her advantage because she doesn't have to move as much," said Kuznetsova, who beat Zvonareva in their opening match Wednesday.

"I had to do something different with my game, but I didn't. I didn't serve well and she returned pretty good. She didn't let me build me game."

Williams, who beat third-ranked Anastasia Myskina in three sets in the Red Group Wednesday, took her season-ending tournament tally to 8-1 with victory over twice grand slam finalist Dementieva.

She won the tournament in 2001, lost in the 2002 final and missed the event last year. Davenport allowed Dementieva only one game in a crushing win in the Red Group Wednesday.

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Davenport rallies past Serena Williams



By The Associated Press
Sunday, November 14, 2004



Lindsay Davenport rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over Serena Williams in the WTA Championships on Saturday, although her No. 1 ranking was in jeopardy after she failed to reach the semifinals.

Davenport owns a 351-point lead over No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo, who could regain the top spot she held for five weeks after the U.S. Open if she wins the tournament.

Mauresmo defeated Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova 7-5, 6-4 to extend her 11-match winning streak, including titles in Austria and Philadelphia the last two weeks. Davenport was knocked out when French Open champion Anastasia Myskina beat Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-3. Myskina and Sharapova were the only two of five Russians in the eight-woman tournament to advance. In Sunday's semifinals, Mauresmo will play Williams and Myskina takes on Sharapova. Second-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States defeated Gaston Etlis and Martin Rodriguez 6-3, 7-6 Saturday in an opening-round doubles match at the ATP Masters Cup. In other first-round doubles matches, Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge defeated Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi 6-3, 6-2, and Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett beat Martin Damm and Cyril Suk 6-2, 6-2. Singles competition begins Monday when top-ranked Roger Federer takes on Gaston Gaudio. Andy Roddick plays his first match Tuesday night against Tim Henman.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Lindsay Davenport Tops Serena Williams
By BETH HARRIS
The Associated Press



LOS ANGELES - Lindsay Davenport rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over Serena Williams in the WTA Championships on Saturday, although her No. 1 ranking remained in peril.

Davenport owns a 351-point lead over No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo, who still has a chance to regain the top spot she held for five weeks after the U.S. Open.

Despite the loss, Williams advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 match record at the conclusion of round-robin play.

"I feel like I'm cheating that I'm still in the tournament. I feel as though I should go home," said Williams, who fired 14 aces.

Davenport's status hinged on the result of Saturday's match between French Open champion Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva. Davenport finished round-robin play with a 2-1 match victory and 4-3 record in sets won, and she wouldn't advance if Myskina won.

"I would say I'm not going to be playing tomorrow," Davenport said. "I would be floored if Myskina lost to Dementieva. I think Myskina is a better player and she's played well here. Before I check out of the hotel, I'll call over."

Davenport seemed poised for a quick exit in the first set against Williams, who broke her twice and closed it out with a 109-mph ace in front of 8,231 at Staples Center.

There were just three break points - all on Williams' serve - in the second set. Williams twice bailed herself out with aces to get to deuce, including the last game. But after blowing a 113-mph serve past Davenport, Williams double-faulted and then netted a forehand to lose the set, 7-5. She angrily bounced her racket in disgust.


"She wasn't tough to play. I shot myself in the foot," Williams said. "I definitely won that match."

Not quite, Serena. Davenport rolled to a 3-0 lead in the third set, then broke Williams a second time on a double fault to go up 5-1. Davenport survived two break points in the last game, then won when Williams netted a forehand volley.

Williams used a derogatory term to describe her play. "I couldn't put it into any other words," she said. "I would, but I am a Christian woman."

Davenport burst out laughing at the suggestion that Williams let down to help her advance.

"I would be lying on the floor if she said, `I gave Lindsay a bone and tried to help her qualify,'" Davenport said. "She's great and I get along with her, but I don't think her mind works in a way that she was trying to help me out."

If Davenport doesn't play another match in the season-ending tournament, she will have finished 5-0 against Serena and Venus Williams this year after not beating either of the sisters the previous four years.

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Published Monday, November 15, 2004
document.title = unescape("Serena%20Williams%20Surges%20Into%20Fina ls%20Against%20Sharapova") + " | theledger.com";

Serena Williams Surges Into Finals Against Sharapova


By BETH HARRIS
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Serena Williams is in love -- with her new attacking game and herself.

Williams moved a step closer to salvaging her season with a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 semifinal victory over Amelie Mauresmo in the WTA Championships on Sunday.

"She just went for it," Mauresmo said. "I would give all the credit to her. I was playing some good tennis and she really raised her level a lot."

Williams alternately blasted powerful groundstrokes, served in the 120-mph range and rushed the net, where she won 38 of 54 points.

"I'm doing in the match what do I in practice, so for me that's really important," she said. "That's what I'm happy most about. Now I just got to make sure I make them all."

Williams, ranked eighth and without a Grand Slam title this season for the first time since 2001, advanced to tonight's final against Maria Sharapova, the 17-yearold Russian who stunned her in the Wimbledon final.

Dressed in a pink-andwhite ruffled skirt and pink shirt, Williams pirouetted and blew kisses to 9,022 fans at Staples Center who were clearly on her side.

She wore a white T-shirt with the slogan `I Heart Me' after the match.

"I love me. I love everything about me. I love my legs, I love my arms, I love my lips, I love my eyes," she said, laughing. "I think it's important for everyone to love themselves."

Sharapova defeated countrywoman Anastasia Myskina 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 for the first time after losing all three of their other meetings this year.

"If Serena would play like she did today, I don't think she (Sharapova) would have any chances," Myskina said.

Sharapova replied, "I'm just so excited to be in the final, I could care less about my chances."

Sharapova was assessed a code violation for being coached in the fifth game of the third set by her father Yuri. "He always coaches her," Myskina said, adding that most players' coaches do the same thing during matches. "Maria's father did something really loud. That is why the chair umpire saw it."

Sharapova said, "I didn't hear what he said."

Mauresmo's loss guaranteed Lindsay Davenport will retain the top spot when the year-end WTA rankings are released Tuesday.

"I'm really happy for Lindsay," said Williams, who was sidelined for eight months after knee surgery. "She's had a few tough years and to come back as number one kind of motivates me because I know she had a big knee injury as well."

The Frenchwoman had to win the tournament to topple Davenport, who failed to advance to the semifinals. Davenport also ended the year at No. 1 in 1998 and 2001.

"It's not my main concern," said Mauresmo, who spent five weeks at the top after the U.S. Open before Davenport surpassed her.

Mauresmo's 11-match winning streak ended, which included titles in Austria and Philadelphia the last two weeks.

Mauresmo failed to convert any of her 12 break points in the third set, when Williams smacked winners on 10 of them.

"I felt like I forced her to play her best level and really make some passing shots and make some unbelievable saves," said Mauresmo, who dictated early from the back court. "She could also have missed, but she didn't."

Mauresmo had six break points in the fourth game, but Williams held at 2-all.

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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Serena books Maria date
15 November 2004



Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will battle it out in Los Angeles today in a repeat of their Wimbledon final.

Williams wrecked Amelie Mauresmo's hopes of ending the the year as world No1 when she beat the Frenchwoman 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 in the semi-finals of the WTA Tour Championship.

Playing in front of her home crowd, an emotional Williams greeted her win by jumping up and down to roars of approval.

Wimbledon champion Sharapova booked her place in the final after overcoming a shaky first set to defeat Russian compatriot Anastasia Myskina 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Sharapova had lost to Myskina in their three previous meetings, but after looking out of sorts early on, the 17-year-old blasted her weary opponent off the court. However, Sharapova was given a warning for receiving coaching in the second set after her father Yuri was clearly heard yelling instructions at her.

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Serena Williams ends Mauresmo's bid for year-end No. 1 ranking
Canadian Press


Sunday, November 14, 2004


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Serena Williams is in love - with her new attacking game and herself.

Williams moved a step closer to salvaging her season with a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 semifinal victory over France's Amelie Mauresmo in the WTA Championships on Sunday. "She just went for it," Mauresmo said. "I would give all the credit to her. I was playing some good tennis and she really raised her level a lot."

Williams alternately blasted powerful groundstrokes, served in the 193-km/h range and rushed the net, where she won 38 of 54 points.

"I'm doing in the match what do I in practice, so for me that's really important," she said. "That's what I'm happy most about. Now I just got to make sure I make them all."

Williams, ranked eighth and without a Grand Slam title this season for the first time since 2001, advanced to Monday night's final against Maria Sharapova, the 17-year-old Russian who stunned her in the Wimbledon final.

Dressed in a pink-and-white ruffled skirt and pink shirt, Williams pirouetted and blew kisses to 9,022 fans at Staples Center who were clearly on the American's side.

She wore a white T-shirt with the slogan 'I Heart Me' after the match.

"I love me. I love everything about me. I love my legs, I love my arms, I love my lips, I love my eyes," she said, laughing. "I think it's important for everyone to love themselves."

Sharapova defeated countrywoman Anastasia Myskina 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 for the first time after losing all three of their other meetings this year.

"If Serena would play like she did today, I don't think she (Sharapova) would have any chances," Myskina said.

Sharapova replied, "I'm just so excited to be in the final, I could care less about my chances."

Sharapova was assessed a code violation for being coached in the fifth game of the third set by her father Yuri. "He always coaches her," Myskina said, adding that most players' coaches do the same thing during matches. "Maria's father did something really loud. That is why the chair umpire saw it."

Sharapova said, "I didn't hear what he said."

Mauresmo's loss guaranteed American Lindsay Davenport will retain the top spot when the year-end WTA rankings are released Tuesday.

"I'm really happy for Lindsay," said Williams, who was sidelined for eight months after knee surgery. "She's had a few tough years and to come back as number one kind of motivates me because I know she had a big knee injury as well."

The Frenchwoman had to win the tournament to topple Davenport, who failed to advance to the semifinals. Davenport also ended the year at No. 1 in 1998 and 2001.

"It's not my main concern," said Mauresmo, who spent five weeks at the top after the U.S. Open before Davenport surpassed her.

Mauresmo's 11-match winning streak ended, which included titles in Austria and Philadelphia the last two weeks.
Mauresmo failed to convert any of her 12 break points in the third set, when Williams smacked winners on 10 of them.

"I felt like I forced her to play her best level and really make some passing shots and make some unbelievable saves," said Mauresmo, who dictated early from the back court. "She could also have missed, but she didn't."

Mauresmo had six break points in the fourth game, but Williams held at 2-2.

"I was really relaxed," Williams said. "In a different situation, I'm usually really tense and I'm really fighting and screaming. I really didn't feel as if I was going to lose."

Williams outlasted Mauresmo in a 13-deuce, 32-point game to hold for a 5-3 lead.

"It was definitely intense," Williams said. "Amelie was playing some good shots and getting the balls back. Finally, I was able to just do it. It was really hard. She started coming to the net a bit more and she was taking some pace off the ball. Then I just decided to go for it."

Mauresmo had five break chances and gambled by charging the net. But it cost her when she netted a forehand volley to lose the game.

"I thought it was a good idea because she was taking control of the points at the end of the second set in the back of the court," she said. "By coming in, I forced her to make these shots."

Mauresmo held to trail 5-4 before Williams served out the 2-hour match, hitting an overhead smash off Mauresmo's short return on match point. Williams improved to 8-1 in her career against Mauresmo.

Williams has won two titles this year, but had no success in the Grand Slam events. She skipped the Australian Open while rehabilitating her knee, then had quarter-final losses to Jennifer Capriati at both the French and U.S. Opens and lost the Wimbledon final to Sharapova after beating Mauresmo in a three-set semifinal.

"I don't believe I played the Wimbledon final," she said, half serious and half smiling. "I don't know who it was. I wasn't at Wimbledon this year."

Williams didn't start her season until March, then won the first tournament she played in Miami, beating Sharapova in the round of 16. Her second title came in September in Beijing.

"I'm really excited about myself. I'm going to be definitely a force to be reckoned with next year," she said. "The little work that I have been able to do has moved mountains for me, so I look forward to next year."

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Love-Struck Serena Has Heart in Tennis Again


Serena Williams is in a good place right now, and we're not talking about the final of the WTA Championships.

She's in love, and unafraid to profess it to the world. It's right there on her T-shirt.

"I Love Me," it read, the letters and red heart symbol clearly visible behind her zipped-down pink sweatsuit jacket.

"I love everything about me," she said when asked to elaborate on the T-shirt's message. "I love my legs, I love my eyes, I love my lips, I love my arms.... I think it's important for everyone to love themselves."

And if happiness can indeed lead to better results, then this could be one instance when love can buy you money. She's one match away from the championships' $1-million prize, a payout that would almost double her tour earnings this season. (Life must be good for Williams if an off year already has netted her $1.3 million.)

Who wouldn't have loved to be the victor Sunday in her gripping semifinal match against Amelie Mauresmo? Williams dropped the first set and fell behind, 3-1, in the second before surging back to defeat Mauresmo, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

Almost as significant as what she accomplished was what she didn't do.

Noticeably missing was the woe-is-me look she often displays whenever her game falls apart. You know, the racket-drops, the slumped shoulders, the pained expressions.

She had ample opportunity for that Sunday, when she made 43 unforced errors and misfired on almost half of her first serves. But she never got too down on herself.

"What was key is I was really relaxed," Williams said. "I felt as if, whatever happened, I was just really calm. I think in a different situation I am usually really tense, and I am really like fighting and screaming. I was really relaxed today. I didn't really feel as if I was going to lose."

So she fought through all the ups and downs of the dramatic, 13-deuce eighth game of the third set, didn't yield on the five break points she faced. When she prevailed, she had a 5-3 lead and two games later was serving for the match.

"Use your hotness," a fan implored.

He must have seen those photos of Williams wearing a see-through dress to a premiere in London. Thing is, if Williams is going to dominate the tennis tour again she can't worry about being a sex symbol or actress or fashion trend-setter.

She said she was "going to totally dedicate my life to tennis" and that she can't wait to get to Australia in January for the start of the next season.

Williams certainly was in business mode Sunday.

"A bit unprofessional," she scolded when some loud squawking over a walkie-talkie interrupted her news conference. "Even I have my phone on silent."

For Williams to give up even five minutes without her cellphone constitutes a big sacrifice, so she's showing some commitment.

Can she keep it up? She's 23, which is approaching middle age in tennis years. Her body has shown signs of breaking down, starting with the knee injury that required surgery last year. She's won only two events on the WTA Tour this year. She was reaching for her leg at times Sunday, and said that after all of those serves in the marathon eighth game her arm was "shot."

But women's tennis is the only place that gives athletes a chance to write their grand comeback story before they're 30.

Take Lindsay Davenport. At the ripe old age of 28 she's having her renaissance, bouncing back from retirement talk a year ago to end this season as the tour's top-ranked player, thanks in part to Williams' knocking off Mauresmo.

"It kind of motivates me," Williams said of Davenport's resurgence. "Because I know she had a big knee injury as well."

It's not the No. 1 ranking she covets.

"More than anything, I'm looking at Slams," Williams said.

Five Grand Slam events have passed on the circuit since Williams held the Venus Rosewater dish above her head at Wimbledon in 2003. Since then Williams missed two Grand Slam events while recovering from knee surgery, lost in the quarterfinals at the French and U.S. Opens this year and lost in the Wimbledon final to Maria Sharapova, her opponent in tonight's final.

Tennis needs Williams and her sister Venus to do well just the same. This year's U.S. Open final between Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva drew less than half of the 5.2 television rating for the final between the Williams sisters in 2002.

This tournament sure needs Williams. Sharapova might have been the model for the promotions, but Williams had the most support from the crowd Sunday.

The first 5,000 fans got oversized tennis balls. The key word being first 5,000, instead of all 5,000. They actually pulled 9,000 into Staples Center for the event Sunday, and they couldn't have asked for a better matchup to sell tickets for the final.

Serena versus Sharapova. We know at least one person loves it.


www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-adande15nov15,0,5867106.column?coll=la-home-sports

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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 2004, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Williams ends year with another injury



BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


(11-16) 02:18 PST LOS ANGELES

Serena Williams ended a frustrating season the way she started -- with an injury.

Williams strained an abdominal muscle that blunted her powerful serves in a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 loss to Maria Sharapova in the final of the WTA Championships on Monday night.

"It's extremely disappointing," she said. "I really figured I'd have a good chance at this title."

Instead, Williams finished the year with a No. 7 ranking, a 39-9 match record and two titles -- none of them in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 2001.

"For a Serena year, it wasn't superb," she said. "It's been a really tough year for me."

She started on the sidelines, missing the Australian Open while rehabilitating her left knee after surgery in 2003. She returned in March and won the first tournament she played in Miami.

But Williams lost in the French Open quarterfinals and by June had dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in nearly five years. At Wimbledon, she was upset 6-1, 6-4 in the final by Sharapova. At the U.S. Open, she lost a three-set quarterfinal to Jennifer Capriati.

She won her only other title in Beijing on her 23rd birthday in September. Last month, she withdrew from two tournaments because of a recurring left knee injury, then lost to a qualifier ranked 73rd in her opening match at an Austrian tournament.

"She struggled more so this year than she has in years past," said Lindsay Davenport, who will end the year No. 1 for the third time in her career when the WTA Tour rankings are released Tuesday.

"But she is still a great player. She has the ability to turn it on."

Against Sharapova, Williams grimaced on nearly every serve in the third set when her 120-mph blasts were reduced to 60-mph cream puffs.

She trailed 5-2 in the second set when she called for a trainer after straining her abdominal muscle.

"After she got the medical treatment, I could tell that she had problems serving, but on the groundstrokes she was just teeing off on everything," Sharapova said. "Beside her serve, she didn't look injured once she was playing, so she was actually being really tough. I couldn't capitalize on the weak serves that she hit."

Williams left the court for five minutes and returned to have her serve broken in losing the set 6-2.

But rolled to a 4-0 lead in the third, including winning the first 11 points of the set and twice breaking a flustered Sharapova.

"She figured that she can't really do anything from her serve so she had to hit everything as hard as she could and that's exactly what she did," Sharapova said. "There was just not too much I could do. I just tried to find a little opening and get back in there."

After the third game, the trainer reappeared and wound a large wrap around Williams' stomach. She slipped an ice bag under her shirt on later changeovers.

"It's definitely a muscle strain," said Williams, who felt a cramp in her stomach in the first game of the match. "I don't know how I stayed out there. I definitely thought about not finishing the match, but I like to fight, I guess."

In the eighth game, Williams double-faulted twice in a row to fall behind 15-40. Her serves registered in the high 60s and low 70s. After Sharapova's backhand error, Williams double-faulted and the set was tied at 4-all.

Sharapova served a love game for a 5-4 lead. Williams' serve slowed even more in the next game and she trailed 15-40. Sharapova hit a clean forehand winner off Williams' final 64-mph serve to close out the victory.

The 17-year-old Russian will rise to a career-high fourth in the year-end rankings.

"I don't think I could've asked for anything better this year," Sharapova said. "It's been an extraordinary year for me. I know that I'm not showing a lot of emotion, but I'm sort of just speechless."

Sharapova finished the year with a 55-15 match record and five titles.

She earned $1 million -- tying the U.S. Open winner's check -- and received a new SUV worth $56,300. She said she planned to give the car or proceeds from its sale to the survivors of the September hostage-taking in Russia that left more than 300 people dead, half of them children.

Williams earned $500,000.

The final attracted an announced crowd of 11,397 -- 2,472 more than last year's final, also on a Monday night. The six-day tournament drew 53,343 -- 8,454 more than 2003, when neither Serena or Venus Williams nor Davenport was in the field.

The event will remain in Los Angeles for a fourth year in 2005.

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 2004, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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Tennis: Sharapova beats Serena Williams in WTA Tour final
NDTV Correspondent

Tuesday, November 16, 2004 (City):

Maria Sharapova overcame an early third-set lapse against an injured Serena Williams to win the WTA Championships 4-6 6-2 6-4 on Monday night in Los Angeles in a rematch of their Wimbledon final.

The 17-year-old Russian's biggest career victory came in July when she downed Williams 6-1, 6-4 at the All-England club to win her first Grand Slam.

This time, Williams, seeded seventh, broke Sharapova to win the first set 6-4 but strained an abdominal muscle in the second and the young Russian took advantage to win the set 6-2 and level the match.

However, Sharapova appeared to fall apart in the third set, committing numerous errors as Williams raced to a 4-0 lead.

But the Russian regrouped and earned her first break of the set to cut the deficit to 4-2, then gained back the next game on serve.

Williams continued to be clearly hampered by her injury, as the 2001 WTA champion double-faulted on break point for a 4-4 scoreline.

Sharapova then went 5-4 up and won the final two points of the match to record her second triumph over Williams in their three meetings so far.

Sharapova, the sixth seed in the eight-member field at the prestigious season-ending event, so capped off a tremendous 2004 campaign with her fifth title of the year.

The young Russian, who reached the final with a come-from-behind victory over fellow Russian Anastasia Myskina, collected $1 million US dollars for the victory.

Williams, a semi-final winner over former world number one Amelie Mauresmo of France in Sunday's semifinal, earned $500,000 US dollars, which will go some way to soothing the pain of her defeat. (AP)

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