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post #1 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2004, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Australian Open 2005

Russians seeking full set of Slams
Margie McDonald
December 20, 2004



THE Russians are queueing up to win their country's first Australian Open.

With the Wimbledon, French and US Open singles crowns sitting on Russian heads for the first time this year, it can't be long before the Daphne Akhurst Trophy is presented to a Russian.

Anastasia Myskina (world No.3), Maria Sharapova (4), Svetlana Kuznetsova (5) and Elena Dementieva (6) are all contenders for the title with only world No.1 Linsday Davenport, No.7 Serena Williams, Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo (2) or Justine Henin-Hardenne (8) to be counted on to offer serious resistance.

Henin-Hardenne, who won the 2004 Australian Open, went downhill almost immediately thereafter.

A nagging respiratory illness and then a virus had the Belgian on and off the court for much of the year.



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Although she won three other tournaments, including the Olympic gold medal, she wasn't able to defend her Wimbledon crown and she exited the French Open in the second round – again as defending champion – and the US Open in the fourth.

She finished the year at No.8 – her lowest season end since 2000.

With fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters having an equally disastrous and disrupted season because of ankle and wrist injuries, the stars of Brussels faded while the Russians were on the rise.

The Russians also won the Fed Cup this year and they did it without Sharapova.

While there are four in the world top 10, another three – Vera Zvonareva (11), Nadia Petrova (12) and Elena Bovina (15) – are close.

No.13-ranked Adelaide-born Alicia Molik, the first Australian to reach the top 20 since Diane Balestrat in 1988, could become the first into the top 10 since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

Molik won three WTA tour titles this year, including beating Sharapova in the Zurich final in October.

She became the first Australian woman to win a Tier I title (one below a Grand Slam). Balestrat reached the NSW Open (now the Sydney International) final in 1985 but lost to Pam Shriver.

Molik's best result in six Australian Opens was the fourth round last January, where she lost to Mauresmo.

If she reaches the last eight in Melbourne she will be the first Australian woman there since Anne Minter in 1988.

Serena and Venus Williams have entered the Australian Open, but the pair are only rated a slim chance of surfacing in Sydney on a wild-card.

Serena was plagued by left knee inflammation throughout 2004. She did not play in Australia last summer and played just 12 tournaments for the year with her first appearance not until April.

But she still managed tour titles in Miami and Beijing and was runner-up to Sharapova at Wimbledon.

Venus was a little more active with 16 tournaments, winning in May in Charleston and then Warsaw, but progressed no further than the quarter-finals in any of the four slams. Jennifer Capriati skipped Sydney and the Australian Open in 2004 because of a back injury but the former champion returns next month.

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post #2 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 11th, 2005, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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Williams sisters and Mauresmo raring to go

By Emma Quayle
January 12, 2005






Serena Williams, with mother Oracene in the background, takes to the practice courts at Melbourne Park yesterday.
Photo: Angela Wylie



The Australian Open women's draw lost none of its lustre yesterday, with the apparently healthy arrivals of championship contenders Serena and Venus Williams and Amelie Mauresmo.

Fortunately for a tournament that has lost Belgian pair Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, all three looked healthy as they practised at Vodafone Arena yesterday.

Serena Williams, who has not played any tournament tennis leading in to next week's event, had her ankles strapped before hitting with elder sister Venus. But the 23-year-old, who played doubles at a Hong Kong exhibition event last week, looked relaxed and moved powerfully around the court, seemingly untroubled by the abdominal injury that worried her for much of last year.

The 2003 Australian Open champion fell to No. 7 in the world rankings after she missed last year's tournament following knee surgery, and failed to claim any of the three other grand slam titles. She is, though, a marginal favourite to take the title at $4.25 ahead of world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport at $4.50.

Henin-Hardenne abandoned plans for her title defence after MRI scans revealed a broken bone in her right knee, while Clijsters has been troubled by a wrist injury. Jennifer Capriati, who has not played in Melbourne since she lost her first-round match in 2003, has a shoulder injury and also is in some doubt.


The Williams' first Melbourne session was overseen by their mother, Oracene, who filmed Venus with a camcorder. The 24-year-old dropped out in the third round of last year's Open, on her way back from stomach problems.

World No. 2 Mauresmo, who has been battling a recent adductor injury and withdrew from the Hong Kong event, appeared equally comfortable during her centre-court practice session.

Mauresmo, the $6 third favourite, hit with Russia's US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the world No. 5 who has not gone past the third round in three trips to Melbourne Park.

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post #3 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 11th, 2005, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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Venus Williams doubles match

12jan05

SPOTTED. Or maybe not. Has Venus Williams slipped into town early for a bit of Australian Open action?

If she hadn't, then she had a dead-ringer of a double riding the Bridge Rd tram on Monday evening from the city to a gym in Richmond.



Beaded hair, muscles and carrying tennis shoes. Everyone on the 48 rattler was convinced it was Venus.

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post #4 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2005, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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Serena unveils new gear in quest to retrieve her world crown

Agence France-Presse

Melbourne (Australia), January 13, 2005|15:23 IST
Serena Williams on Thursday unveiled her latest outfit and intentions to challenge for the Australian Open crown at next week's tennis grand slam. Williams, who dominated women's tennis with five grand slams in 2002-03 including the 2003 Australian Open, said she was fighting fit after overcoming an abdominal strain and a knee problem which dropped her ranking to seven - her lowest since 1998.

Known for some outlandish tennis fashion statements including a black catsuit, her latest gear includes a dress that comes apart to reveal shorts and a tight-fitting tank top.

And the knee-high boots that first made an appearance at last year's US Open are back.

Only this time they have changed from black patent leather to lime green with mesh panels down the side.

The 23-year-old American said regaining the top spot in women's tennis was a goal for the year.

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post #5 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2005, 11:37 AM Thread Starter
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Last Update: Thursday, January 13, 2005. 7:33pm AEDT

Happy to be in Melbourne ... Serena Williams. (File photo) (Getty)



Williams brimming with confidence ahead of Open

Former world number one Serena Williams says she is confident she can win the Australian Open, which begins next week in Melbourne.

Williams, who won four straight Grand Slam titles in 2002 and 2003, said she had recovered from an abdominal strain and a knee problem that saw her ranking drop to number seven last year, her lowest position since 1998.

She said she was happy to be back in Melbourne after missing last year's tournament and was satisfied with her preparation.

"I think anything is possible, I'm really excited about the way things are going with my game," Williams said.

"I'm actually feeling really good, I'm really, really excited about being here in Melbourne."

Williams said she felt comfortable on the Rebound Ace court surface at Melbourne Park, despite recent criticism from the men's world number three, Lleyton Hewitt, that it was too slow.

"I love coming here, I love the surface of the court, it's so bouncy and makes me so fast," she said.

"It's fine for me. I think everyone has different takes on it, I think his (Hewitt) worrying about the court is maybe his way of competing and doing the best that he can.

"Everyone takes different roads and my road is just to relax."

Williams is seeded seventh for the Australian Open.

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post #6 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2005, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Serena's putting the boot in

January 13, 2005 - 5:37PM





These boots are made for playing ... Serena Williams in her harder and softer options.



The Australian Open is just as much about fashion as sport for Serena Williams.

The 2003 champion, who missed last year's tournament in an injury-ravaged season, today unveiled the trendsetting outfit she will wear at the opening grand slam event of 2005.

Fighting fit after overcoming an abdominal strain and a knee problem which saw her drop to world No.7 - her lowest ranking since 1998 - Williams said regaining top spot was a goal for the year.

However looking good while she was doing it was just as important.

Known for some outlandish tennis fashion statements including a black catsuit, her latest gear - co-designed with Nike - includes a dress that comes apart to reveal shorts and a tight-fitting tank top.

And the knee-high boots that first made an appearance at last year's US Open are back.

Only this time they have changed from black patent leather to lime green with mesh panels down the side.

Looking like something Judy from The Jetsons would wear, Williams said she again intended to wear the detachable leg section of the boot while warming up on court, and unzipping before the match.


"My legs take a little longer to warm up than the next opponent, so it's perfect for me, they'll keep me warm and then Ill be able to blast off," the 23-year-old American said.

With defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne out through injury, as well as Belgian compatriot Kim Clijsters and two-time former champion Jennifer Capriati, the women's field is wide open.

Despite her seeding at seven, Williams is favourite with bookmakers, closely followed by world No.1 Lindsay Davenport.

She said she felt confident ahead of her opening tournament of the year, after skipping the warm-up events around the country.

"I think anything is possible, I'm really excited about the way things are going with my game," she said.

"I'm actually feeling really good, I'm really, really excited about being here in Melbourne."

Australia's hopes in the women's draw are pinned on Alicia Molik and Williams acknowledged that she was now a genuine contender.

"She has improved a great deal," she said.

"I played her in 2003 in the finals of the Hopman Cup and she's not only improved her game, she's improved her mental game and I think that's what has really propelled her towards the top."

Australia's top male player Lleyton Hewitt has complained about the slow court surface on Rod Laver Arena.

However Williams said it was a favourite for her.

"I love coming here, I love the surface of the court, it's so bouncy and makes me so fast," she said.

"It's fine for me.

"I think everyone has different takes on it, I think his worrying about the court is maybe his way of competing and doing the best that he can.

"Everyone takes different roads and my road is just to relax."

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post #7 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2005, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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Posted 1/12/2005 10:00 PM Updated 1/13/2005 12:01 AM[img]http://*********************/RealMedia/ads/OpenAd/Creatives/16537SportsZaplet/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img]
[img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img] Serena's latest statement calls for transformation From staff reports Serena Williams is attempting to build a reputation for versatility, adding clothing design to her strength as a six-time Grand Slam champion in tennis.
[img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img][img]http://*********************/sports/_photos/2005/01/12/inside-serena.jpg[/img][img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img]Serena Williams has offered a sneak peek at her outfit for the Australian Open. [img]http://*********************/_common/_images/clear.gif[/img]NikeHer outfit at the Australian Open will reflect that quality with a Nike dress that transforms to a tank top and skirt with shorts underneath. She'll warm up with knee-high spats over her new line of shoes.

Williams has not drawn universal praise for her daring style in tennis clothing, but she has often created a stir with her on-court wardrobe.

Williams was listed at No. 6 on Mr. Blackwell's annual Top-10 list of worst-dressed women. "Courting disaster with every style-free serve, black leather at the (U.S.) Open takes a lot of nerve!" he wrote about Williams in a statement Tuesday.

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post #8 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2005, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Serena backs court surface
By Rebecca Williams
January 14, 2005

AUSTRALIAN Open champion Serena Williams has backed the controversial Melbourne Park courts, saying surface speed should not be an issue.

But she stopped short of suggesting critics should worry more about their game than the courts.

Responding to concerns from Lleyton Hewitt and Todd Woodbridge about the sluggish speed of the Rebound Ace surface, Williams said it was more important for her to focus on the ball.

"The court surface speed for me is fine," Williams said at the launch of her new Nike tennis apparel range.

"I love playing here. I love the surface of the court, it's so bouncy and makes me so fast so I really enjoy it.

"I never really complain about the surface speed or anything, I just really try to focus on the ball.

"I think at the end of the day it all boils down to looking at the ball if you're hitting well. For me that's the most important thing."

Hewitt has been a fierce critic of the Melbourne Park surface in the lead-up to the Centenary Open, saying the slow pace was damaging the chances of local hopes.

Doubles champion Woodbridge this week backed Hewitt's concerns.

Williams believed Hewitt was within his rights to worry about the surface, but said she preferred a no-fuss approach to her preparation.

"I think everyone has different takes on it," Williams said. "I think he's perfectly [right] worrying about the courts, maybe that's his way of getting himself to do the best he can in the championship."

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post #9 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2005, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Serena Williams cool boots 'n' all
Shaun Phillips, Bruce Matthews and Kelly Ryan
14jan05

THE Australian Open is shaping as a sizzler with American Serena Williams yesterday raising temperatures with her sexy new outfit.

The leather boots are back, but black has been replaced by the cooler colour and look of white and lime mesh.



She may enter the court at Melbourne Park in a one-piece dress this year, but fans can look forward to watching Williams dismantling it into shorts and tank top.

The fashion fan co-designed the special garments with Nike experts and believes her hot look will help keep her cool.

Williams modestly played model yesterday at the unveiling of her latest outfit.

Arriving with her entourage by stretch limousine, she spoke warmly of her love of Melbourne Park and lust for Australian fashion houses.

She shrugged off her recent inclusion in a US worst-dressed list.

As for tennis, Williams has put last year's injuries behind her.

"I'm actually feeling really good," she said.

"I am really, really excited about being here in Melbourne."

On court, injury became a burning issue, with crowd favourite Andre Agassi suffering a hip problem that has cast a cloud over his campaign for a fifth title.

And Mark Philippoussis bowed to reality and withdrew because of a groin injury.

It was unsettling news for Agassi, who had an urgent MRI scan after being forced to withdraw midway through his match against Andy Roddick at Kooyong yesterday.

The four-time Open champion faces an anxious wait, but Kooyong Classic physiotherapist Rob Hanna was optimistic the veteran would play at Melbourne Park. "It's a superficial hip flexor rather than a deep one, which has a better short-term prognosis," he said.

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post #10 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2005, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
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Williams, Davenport blocking 'Russian slam' at Australian Open

01-13-2005, 17h25




Frederic Brown - (AFP/File) MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) - A fit-again Serena Williams and rejuvenated world number one Lindsay Davenport stand in the way of a Russian Grand Slam sweep at the Australian Open.

With Belgium's defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne and last year's beaten finalist Kim Clijsters both out injured, the chances are that the winner of the singles crown will hail from either Russia or the United States.

Russian women enjoyed a stellar season in 2004, with Anastasia Myskina winning Roland Garros, Maria Sharapova taking Wimbledon and Svetlana Kuznetsova claiming the US Open.

Two of those finals were all-Russian affairs, underscoring the current dominance of the former Cold War superpower in the women's game.

The question now is who can stop the relentless Russian advance in Melbourne?

For many, the best hope is former world number one Williams, returning to the Australian Open for the first time since lifting the 2003 crown, and Davenport, buoyant after finding form and fitness.

Fiercely competitive, Williams is adamant that she can rediscover the power game that proved virtually unbeatable between 2002 and 2003, when she won all four grand slam titles on the trot.

Despite seeing her ranking slip to seventh after an injury-hit season, Williams believes she is still seen as the player to beat by many of her contemporaries.

"Honestly, everybody who plays me plays me so hard because they always want to beat me," the 23-year-old said.

"I am going to get ready for each match from the first round to the final. For me, I just have to watch out for everybody," she said.

The two-time Wimbledon champion insists she is fully fit after recovering from an abdominal injury. She will need to be -- anything else and the Russians will be ready to pounce.

Davenport meanwhile, who shelved plans to quit at the end of the season after convincing herself that she still has another Grand Slam title within her to add to the three she already has, believes the field is wide open.

"We learned a lot from the last three Grand Slams," the 28-year-old American said. "I don't think anyone before the French, Wimbledon or the US Open would have put money on the eventual winners.

"A couple of players are injured (here), a couple of players not knowing if they're 100 percent yet and that really kind of throws a bit of chaos into the mix. But it feels like everyone has a chance."

After sharing out the Grand Slam honours evenly last year, attention amongst the Russia-watchers now turns to see if any of the 'tsarinas' can emerge from the pack. Many believe Sharapova is the likeliest candidate to break out.

Still restricted from playing a full WTA Tour schedule because of her age -- she only turns 18 in April -- Sharapova has taken the tennis world by storm since overwhelming Serena Williams in last year's Wimbledon final.

For Sharapova there is a simple reason for the sudden success of Russian women. "We work hard at what we do," she said. "We take it as our job. Everybody wants to be No. 1 in the world.

"2004 was beyond anybody's expectations for our country. We were in the mood to win and to get great results," she added.

But the rise to the top of Russia's women has not been without its tensions, with Sharapova at the centre of an ugly row late last year over her allegiance to the country of her birth.

The fiery Myskina led the criticism, making headlines by threatening to withdraw from Russia's Fed Cup if Sharapova was picked for this year's campaign after complaining about the antics of her compatriot's father.

Myskina sought to play down the spat this week however.

"There was nothing between me and any of the other players, just me and a player's father - that's pretty much it," Myskina said.

"I have nothing against Maria, she is a great player and she's been playing awesome last year," added Myskina, whose Open preparations suffered a setback when she was dumped out of the Sydney International warm-up event this week.

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post #11 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 14th, 2005, 11:37 AM Thread Starter
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Worst-dressed? Serena reveals new line
Williams introduces three-in-one dress for Nike
Serena Williams of the USA attends the launch of her new2005 Nike outfit Thursday in Melbourne, Australia.

The Associated Press
Updated: 8:47 p.m. ET Jan. 13, 2005

MELBOURNE, Australia - Two days after being ranked No. 6 on Mr. Blackwell’s annual worst-dressed list, tennis star Serena Williams unveiled her new line of lime green-and-white Nike tennis apparel Thursday.

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Williams co-designed a three-in-one dress and knee-high boots to go with it. Watch for her new getup when Williams begins play at the Australian Open next week.

Williams, No. 7 in the world tennis rankings, modeled the outfit, stepping out of the dress to reveal what she’ll be wearing at the Open: a top and shorts that are just “ideal” for practice.

Unconventional? “You bet!” she said.

ALSO ON THIS STORY
Serena ready to resume winning ways in Aussie Open





Like the black knee-high warmup boots that made headlines at the last U.S. Open, the new and improved lime green-and-white knee-highs can be unzipped and removed between the warmup and a match.

“My legs take a little longer to warm up than the next opponent, so it’s perfect for me, they’ll keep me warm and then I’ll be able to blast off,” she said.

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Serena Williams Debuts New Nike Collection for Australian Open


Nike, Inc. logo. (PRNewsFoto)[KC RV]

BEAVERTON, OR USA 11/29/2004
Serena Williams debuts The Serena Williams Collection from Nike, which is available at retailers for the first time, at the global launch event in Melbourne, Australia prior to the Australian Open. Williams will wear the transform dress (shown here) from the collection and the Nike Shox Glamour SW shoe (shown here) on court at the Australian Open. (PRNewsFoto)[AS]

MELBOURNE AUT 01/13/2005
Serena Williams debuts The Serena Williams Collection from Nike, which is available at retailers for the first time, at the global launch event in Melbourne, Australia prior to the Australian Open. Williams will wear the transform dress (shown here) from the collection on court at the Australian Open. (PRNewsFoto)[AS]

MELBOURNE AUT 01/13/2005


The Serena Williams Collection From Nike Available for First Time at Retail MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- For her return tothe 2005 Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, Serena Williams will debutThe Serena Williams Collection by Nike, an apparel and footwear collectionavailable at retail for the first time. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/19990818/NIKELOGO http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050113/SFTH057-a http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050113/SFTH057-b ) This global collection includes apparel and footwear and is about the artof transformation -- designed to help players transform their look -- andtheir game. Fitting of Serena's personality, the colors are bold and includeLymon (lime) and Imperial (blue). Serena Williams Transform Dress The "transform dress" is the signature piece of the apparel collection.Inspired by the woman who transformed the game, the Transform Dress easilytransitions from a tank and short to a dress with shorts underneath. Themix-and-match pieces include a tank with keyhole cutouts and Nike Sphere CoolMesh; a Dri-FIT short; and a dress featuring Dri-FIT fabric and Nike SphereCool mesh. The Dri-FIT and Nike Sphere Cool Mesh technology ensures thatSerena will stay cool and dry while playing in the soaring heat of Melbourne.This revolutionary dress will be showcased in Australia and will offer Serenamaximum versatility and visual impact. Nike Show Glamour SW The Serena Williams Collection also includes the Nike Shox Glamour SW,which she wore for the first time in August 2004 in New York. Designed forpower players like Serena, the Nike Shox Glamour SW shoe applies Nike Shoxtechnology to tennis for the first time ever. A low-profile Nike Shox platformprovides ultra-responsive cushioning, a "Momentum Control System" thatsupports the foot during quick cuts and an upper that offers maximumbreathability with mesh quarter panels. Nike Shox Transform Boots Serena will once again debut custom-made "boots" for her pre-game warm up.Designed to match her key apparel pieces, the Nike Shox Transform Boots alsofeature the key colors of Lymon and Imperial. The boot, being tested bySerena and not yet available at retail, provides muscle compression, offeringprotection from muscle vibrations that can travel up the leg during highimpact movements on the court. The boot is also light-weight with breathablemesh for cooling benefits. About Serena Williams: Serena Williams is ranked 7th in the world insingles and will play in the Australian Open starting next week -- At her lastAustralian Open appearance she won, achieving the historic "Serena Slam"winning all four Grand Slam tournaments in a row. About Nike Nike, Inc. based in Beaverton, Oregon is the world's leading designer,marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipmentand accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Whollyowned Nike subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets anddistributes athletic footwear, apparel and accessories; Bauer NIKE HockeyInc., a leading designer and distributor of hockey equipment; Cole Haan(R),which designs, markets, and distributes fine dress and casual shoes andaccessories; and Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets anddistributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel andaccessories.

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post #13 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 14th, 2005, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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E-mail from Down Under
American tennis star Serena Williams will be e-mailing USA TODAY from Down Under throughout her run in the Australian Open. Williams' missed last year's first major due to a knee injury, but this season she returns healthy and ready to go. "I just want to get out there and win," Williams writes.

Posted 1/13/2005 10:56 PM

'Healthy and strong' Serena aims to make impression

From:
Serena Williams

To: USA TODAY readers

Subject: My return

"I arrived in Asia about a week ago and am now getting ready for the Australian Open. Over the weekend I had a good warm-up at an exhibition in Hong Kong and feel ready for my return. In fact, Venus and I won the doubles!

"I've played Australia five times, but I skipped last year because of my knee injury. As everyone knows, I'm a competitor and love to play — all the time — so, sitting out was one of the toughest things I've had to do. I've worked very hard over the last year to get back in shape, including doing things I don't care for, like running, and now I feel really healthy and strong. I just want to get out there and win. (Related items: Serena gives early glimpse at Australian Open outfit | Australian Open draw)

"This is a tournament I enjoy playing because it's unlike any other and the land is so beautiful. Plus, believe it or not, I think the heat definitely helps my game. I do live in Florida and it is hot a lot down there. In fact, I may be more prepared than someone who lives where it may be really cold this time of year.

"I play to win, but I also have a good time. Of course, as everyone expects, I will be wearing something special for the opening. It's actually part of my new line with Nike, the Serena Williams Collection. The line will include a new dress that transforms into a short. And, yes, I'll be wearing the boot again, with my Nike Serena Shox. I know everyone loves that boot! Although the boots won't be for sale, I'm still testing them, this is the first time we'll be offering what I wear on court to consumers, so that's really, really hot!

"Well, my day is just kicking off and I've got two hours of practice ahead of me. Bye for now."

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Williams sisters aiming to end slam drought at Australian Open

01-14-2005, 17h11




Torsten Blackwood - (AFP) MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) - The last time Serena and Venus Williams played at the Australian Open together, the tennis world was left wondering who could break their stranglehold on the women's game.

When Serena wrapped up victory over her big sister in the 2003 final, it was her fourth consecutive grand slam title and the fourth time in a row that the siblings had met in the final of a major.

Unfairly derided as the 'yawn of a new era', the Williams' looked head and shoulders above their rivals and poised to rule for the next decade.

Fast-forward two years and the landscape has changed beyond recognition. Having amassed ten slams between 1999 and 2003, the Williams sisters failed to lift one of the big four last year for the first time since 1998.

Injuries and the simultaneous rise of Russia's 'tsarinas' as well as the Belgian duo of Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, derailed the Williams juggernaut.

Now the question is whether they can come back.

With Venus not having won a grand slam since 2001, Serena looks best placed to end the Williams' drought in majors.

The 23-year-old, who has suffered troubling knee and stomach muscle injuries over the past two years, insists she has the hunger to be the best again, despite a stated fondness to pursue careers in acting and fashion.

"I can definitely get back there," former world number one Williams said. "I don't have any issues."

And although her ranking has slipped to seven heading into the Australian Open, Williams believes she is still seen as the player to beat by many of her contemporaries.

"Honestly, everybody who plays me plays me so hard because they always want to beat me. I am going to get ready for each match from the first round to the final. For me, I just have to watch out for everybody," she said.

The two-time Wimbledon champion insisted she has recovered from an abdomen muscle injury which prevented her from serving at full strength.

Despite a series of lengthy lay-offs, Williams said her confidence was relatively intact despite a frustrating year last season.

"Its hard to stay confident when youre not winning matches. My schedule has been different and its not that I have not been winning matches, just that I wasnt playing.

While Serena has declared herself ready for an assault on the Australian Open, the jury is still out on Venus, who was beaten in an exhibition event in Hong Kong last week.

Playing with a heavily strapped thigh, Venus recorded a confidence-boosting win over US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova but lost to Elena Dementieva.

Nevertheless, the classy Williams laughs at the suggestion that, at the age of 24, her best days may already be behind her.

"I know for a fact that I have the same ability as before, even better than before actually," Williams said. "I definitely understand the game much better. It's just about being able to take those opportunities."

Quitting had never been an option, she added. "I'm tall, strong and I have power and I think I have a long career because of my game style. I feel very good."

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post #15 of 63 (permalink) Old Jan 15th, 2005, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Serena Williams, Federer first out on centre court
Sat Jan 15, 2005 12:35 PM GMT
Printer Friendly | Email Article | RSS MELBOURNE, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Defending champion Roger Federer will move straight into action when the Australian Open starts on Monday after being scheduled to play the opening men's match on the Rod Laver Arena.



The Swiss world number one will launch his defence against Frenchman Fabrice Santoro on the centre court after Serena Williams, who won the women's title in 2003 but missed last year's tournament through injury, tackles Camille Pin of France.

Four-times Australian Open winner Andre Agassi will play the last of the day matches on centre court against German qualifier Dieter Kindlmann.

Amelie Mauresmo, the 1999 women's runner-up, and last year's beaten men's finalist Marat Safin will play night matches.

U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova will play the opening match on the Vodafone Arena while her Russian compatriot Maria Sharapova, the Wimbledon champion, faces Sesil Karatantcheva on the same court.

The day matches on the Margaret Court Arena feature Swedes Thomas and Joachim Johansson and former women's champion Mary Pierce while Germany's Tommy Haas plays Belgian Xavier Malisse. The second half of the first round matches will be played on Tuesday.

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