Diamond Games 2005
Twinkle of diamonds brings Venus back to tournament
Brussels, Belgium, February 14, 2005
Venus Williams adores diamonds and the attraction of winning a euro1-million (US$1.3 million) racket studded with them has brought her back to the Diamond Games tournament this week.
Former top-ranked Kim Clijsters hopes to revel in the cheers of a home crowd again as she resumes her career following a lost year because of a wrist injury.
The US$585,000 WTA tournament opening Monday in northern Antwerp has France's Amelie Mauresmo as the No. 1 seed and boasts three more top-10 players - Anastasia Myskina, Williams and Alicia Molik. Williams is the only player though who will have a shot at winning the diamond-encrusted trophy this time around. It goes to the first player who wins the tournament three times in any five-year span and she won the first two editions of the Diamond Games before she had to skip last year's edition with a knee injury. The American fashion student with her own interior design company has never hidden her love of gems and there was never any doubt she would come back for a shot at a third title _ and the trophy. After two injury-marred seasons, Williams is trying to recover her form of old and reached the final 16 of the Australian Open last month before falling to Molik, a potential opponent in the Antwerp final.
On her side, Williams has never been beaten in Antwerp. Clijsters also has fond memories of Antwerp, a city just a few dozen kilometers from her home. She reached the final two years ago before winning the tournament last year in front of a crowd of 15,000 at the Sports Palace.
It was her last hurrah before her left wrist wreaked havoc with her career. It needed surgery over the summer and even afterward, one hesitant return in October was proof enough recovery needed more time.
"I am happy to be back," she said in the run-up to the tournament, although she stressed victory was still outside her grasp. "I hope to get past one or two rounds."
From ranked No. 1 in 2003, she has fallen to 49th ahead of Monday's weekly update and no longer enjoys any protection in the seedings.
Her first-round opponent, Jelena Kostanic, already has climbed 15 places ahead of her and if Clijsters makes it into the second round, she will face Russian Nadia Petrova, No. 12. She then would play Williams in Friday's quarterfinals.
The top four seeds have a bye in the first round.
The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court