Venus: Chase is on
Pursuit of sister's top rank continues at Pilot Pen
By Sean O'Rourke, Register Staff August 19, 2002
Venus Williams puts her Pilot Pen Tennis unbeaten streak on the line either Tuesday or Wednesday against Meghann Shaughnessy. Mara Lavitt/Register
NEW HAVEN — Venus Williams' pursuit of the No. 1 ranking in women's tennis continues this week at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.
Williams is chasing younger sister Serena for the distinction. A fourth straight tournament title at the Pilot Pen tournament this week and a third straight championship at the U.S. Open, which begins a week from today, would vault big sister past little sister in the rankings.
The pursuit of her fourth straight Pilot Pen title begins either Tuesday night or Wednesday afternoon against Meghann Shaughnessy, who defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 Sunday afternoon.
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Venus Williams met with the media Sunday at the CTC to discuss her goal of returning to No. 1.
"It (being No. 1) is very important," Williams said. "I'm not trying to stay at No. 2 for the rest of my career. I'm hoping the tournament wins will add up and make a difference for me."
Williams moved into the No. 1 ranking on Feb. 25 for the first time in her career. She lasted for four weeks and also had stints from April 22-May 19 and June 10-July 7 before being displaced by her sister.
Serena Williams earned the top ranking after beating Venus in the Wimbledon final. Serena also beat Venus in the French Open final in June.
For most, a year with two Grand Slam final appearances would be considered superb. But Venus dominated last summer as she won at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open as well as winning tournaments at San Diego and the Pilot Pen.
"I feel I've done my personal best this year," Williams said. "I've had some nice highlights. Two (Grand Slam) finals are not bad. I can't be too down on myself about that. This is still a great year, to be second best is not bad. I realize I can't have everything, but I still have to keep working hard."
Williams prepared for the three-week stretch at the Pilot Pen and the U.S. Open by taking the last two weeks off from tournament play. Unless the tournament is a Grand Slam event, Venus does not play when Serena does. Serena played in Los Angeles and was scheduled to play in Montreal last week before withdrawing because of an injury.
The weeks off served as a mental and physical refresher for Venus. She was able to hang out at home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and catch up on her hobbies, although she was careful not to go too long without practicing.
"I try to relax, to do things to take me away from my main focus, which is tennis," Williams said. "I kind of back away from everything. (But) at this time, I can't afford to take a couple of weeks off. I need to work on my consistency.
"I'm only able to play so many tournaments in a row because I usually do well and get to the later rounds. For me the maximum is about two or three tournaments in a row."
The pursuit of No. 1 starts up again this week at the Pilot Pen. But she knows winning for a fourth straight year will be a challenge because of a field that includes Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Jelena Dokic and Justine Henin.
"It's always a good field here," Williams said. "I remember watching (Jana) Novotna (and Steffi Graf) in the final in 1998. Everyone wants to be here. It's a good place to get the last piece of confidence (before the U.S. Open)."
Sean O'Rourke can be reached at [email protected]