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Steve Flink: Oudinís Fed Cup Performance is Perhaps Reawakening
2/9/2010 1:00:00 PM
by Steve Flink

The first time I watched Melanie Oudin play her impressive brand of tennis, the young American toppled 2008 world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon last July to reach the round of 16. Later in the summer, I saw her string of come from behind triumphs over Russians Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova at the U.S. Open. Those stirring victories carried Oudin into her first quarterfinal at a major, and despite a straight set defeat against Caroline Wozniacki under the lights in New York, I remained highly encouraged about how far she had come, and where she seemed to be going.

And yet, Oudin fell into a predicament that is not uncommon for those who have made swift progress in the upper levels of the game. She became an easy target for opponents looking to beat a player with a growing reputation who has not yet explored the boundaries of her talent. As she headed into the opening round of the Fed Cup last weekend as a member of the American contingent that took on France, Oudin had lost six of the seven matches she had played since her joyous run in New York. Although she had not played much in that span, the fact remained that Oudin struggled to play with the controlled aggression she had displayed so convincingly at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2009. That must have been frustrating for this 18-year-old with the large heart and facile mind.

But, as if by design, Oudin stepped out onto the indoor clay at Lievin, France and recorded a pair of crucial singles triumphs as the Americans defeated France 4-1 to move into the Fed Cup semifinals. For Oudin, the timing of these wins could have been no better. On a surface she has not yet mastered, performing in front of crowds pulling unashamedly for her adversaries, in a situation where she could not really afford to fail, Oudin came through in a big way. That was an important step for her in the right direction, a reaffirmation of her inner conviction, a sign that she will soon be right back where she wants to be as a player making the most of herself and her potential.

To be fair, Oudin was boosted considerably in France by the exploits of one Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Mattek-Sands opened the proceedings against the gifted yet overwhelmed Alize Cornet. Cornet is currently stationed at No. 65 in the world, but the 20-year-old from Nice is destined for a place among the top 30 in the not too distant future. Both Mattek-Sands and Cornet realized how critical their contest would be in a best of five match series between nations, and the first set of their meeting was fought hard on both sides of the net.

Mattek-Sands was more poised at the outset, and she raced to a 2-0, 15-40 lead in the first set with superior ball control and greater accuracy in the baseline exchanges. Cornet cast aside some of her inhibition in the third game, saving three break points, holding on with an ace. She climbed back to 2-2, held at love for 3-2, broke at love for 4-2, and then held again for 5-2. Mattek-Sands was in peril in the following game. Serving at 2-5, she double faulted to fall behind 0-40, triple set point, but somehow she escaped and held on. Cornet served for the set at 5-3, reached 30-30, only to double fault feebly into the net. Mattek-Sands broke back for 4-5, but was two points away from losing the set again in the tenth game. At 4-5, 30-30, she swung her serve wide with slice to Cornetís forehand to open up the court for an angled forehand drive volley winner. At game point, she laced a backhand down the line for a winner. It was 5-5.

The two players traded service breaks in the next two games to set up a tie-break, and here Mattek-Sands took charge ably. A backhand drop shot winner gave her a quick mini-break lead at 1-0. A cleanly struck overhead winner made it 3-0 for the American. Cornet managed to sweep the next five points and was serving at 5-3. Mattek-Sands came in behind a solid backhand approach, and provoked an errant passing shot from Cornet. A forehand winner from Mattek-Sands took her back to 5-5, and then she advanced to set point, using a backhand drop shot to draw Cornet forward, then driving a forehand pass into a clear open space.

Now Mattek-Sands had set point at 6-5, but her forehand return travelled long. Cornet then took the next point with a service winner down the T, taking a 7-6 lead. Mattek-Sands was unimpressed with her adversaryís resurgence. The American threw in another backhand drop shot that set up a backhand passing shot winner down the line for 7-7. Cornet missed off the forehand, and that made it 8-7 for Mattek-Sands. The Frenchwoman had reached her emotional limit. She pulled a routine crosscourt forehand wide, and the set belonged to Mattek-Sands.

The second set went almost entirely on serve, but Mattek-Sands had the advantage of serving first. With an increasingly apprehensive Cornet serving at 5-6, the Frenchwoman trailed 0-40. She fought off two match points, but on the third Mattek-Sands got the job done by chipping a forehand purposefully short, forcing Cornet to dig up the low ball. Cornet was not up to that task, netting that ball under duress. Mattek-Sands had lifted the Americans into a 1-0 lead after her gutsy 7-6 (7), 7-5 victory. She had set the stage for Oudin, who came out to face Pauline Parmentier in the second singles match.

Clearly, Mattek-Sands had done her countrywoman a favor by carving out a win, but Oudin did not want to waste that opening. The American went right to work, breaking for 3-2 by accelerating the pace of her shots and catching her opponent off guard. At 5-4, Oudin served for the set, but she was down 0-30. She took control of the next two points to get back to 30-30. At 30-30, she sliced an excellent backhand approach deep down the middle and Parmentier could not make the passing shot. On set point, Oudin changed pace adroitly, releasing another clever backhand slice that provoked a mistake from Parmentier. Oudin had the set, 6-4.

There was more hard work ahead. Oudin was serving at 2-3 in the second set when she was stretched to deuce five times. She fought off two break points in that game, saving the second with a crackling forehand that Parmentier could not answer. Oudin made it to 3-3, but Parmentier was fighting hard. She held easily for 4-3, and then had a break point for 5-3. Once more, Oudin stepped up, cracking another sizzling forehand that was tantamount to a winner. Oudin held on for 4-4, and did not look back. Dominating rally after rally with her flat forehand, she broke for 5-4 in a long game after Parmentier led 40-0. Serving for the match in the tenth game, Oudin wasted one match point with an unprovoked mistake off the backhand, then saved a break point. Oudin moved back to match point for the second time, and she sealed the triumph deservedly by scores of 6-4, 6-4.

The following day, Oudin played the opening match against Julie Coin, who was substituting for Cornet. French captain Nicolas Escude understandably did not want to use Cornet again after her disappointing loss against Mattek-Sands. In any case, Oudin recognized that Coin was not to be taken lightly. The 27-year-old is ranked No. 76 in the world. Moreover, she had upset French Open champion Ana Ivanovic at the 2008 U.S. Open. Coin is a sporadically dangerous ball striker, and Oudin had to be on guard as she confronted an experienced adversary.

The first set was pivotal. Oudin was down 0-2, 15-40, having just double faulted. She boldly worked her way out of that corner and held on for 1-2, but Coin released three aces on her way to 3-1. Another ace down the T lifted Coin to 4-2. Oudin easily broke back for 4-4, held for 5-4, and had a set point in the tenth game. Coin stifled the American there with a well directed body serve, and soon was level at 5-5. Oudin saved two break points and held for 6-5, Coin served two more aces en route to 6-6, and it all came down to a tie-break.

Oudin double faulted at 2-2 in that sequence, but she was fortunate on the following point. With a chance to reach 4-2 and perhaps take command, Coin rolled an inside out forehand wide with Oudin moving in the opposite direction. Oudin was on a roll. She collected five straight points to take the tie-break 7-3, ending that stretch emphatically with a backhand winner followed by two more winners off the forehand flank. Oudin gradually pulled away in the second set, getting the crucial break for 3-2, and making that count. At 5-4, serving for the match, knowing a hold here would lift her nation into the semifinal round of the 2010 Fed Cup World Group, Oudin lost the first point but then closed it out with a flourish, driving three more of her patented forehands for winners while winning four points in a row. Match to Oudin, 6-4, 6-4.

It must be said that Oudin and her countrywomen would have had a tougher time prevailing if some of the leading French players had been available. Marion Bartoli (No. 13 in the world) Aravane Rezai (No. 21), and Virginie Razzano (No. 24), did not play. On the other hand, neither world No. 1 Serena Williams nor her sister Venus (No. 5) made it to Lievin either. That is simply the way it is these days with Fed Cup and Davis Cup. And it is not all the fault of the players. Having such a significant Fed Cup contest less than a week after the end of the Australian Open makes no sense at all.

Letís leave that issue aside. The bottom line is that Melanie Oudin showed up, played well, picked up some confidence, and reminded many of us why we were so delighted when we watched her play with such verve at the last two majors of 2009. Oudin just might be reigniting herself and her game at the best possible time. At the moment, she is ranked No. 53 in the world, but the feeling grows that she is going to make a substantial move forward over the next nine months.
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Originally Posted by Rosslyn View Post
Short and Sweet: Q & A with Melanie Oudin

By James LaRosa

Marietta, Ga., native Melanie Oudin is enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 68, thanks in large part to her stellar Wimbledon debut last month. The emergence of Oudin, 17, was the talk of the All-England Club during the first week of the tournament; the teenager’s run to the fourth round as a qualifier was highlighted by an emotional three-set victory over Jelena Jankovic, the No. 6 seed. Last week Oudin chatted with about her breakout season, her heroes, her goals and jealousy in the American ranks.

You were a junior phenom. Was it a difficult decision to turn pro?

I turned pro last year. It was a pretty big decision. But in the real world, it's not. All you do is accept money. I never wanted to play college tennis. I was so nervous the first tournaments I played. I felt like a different person. But I got used to it.

Now you're playing against women you used to watch on TV. Is that weird?

Yeah. Like playing Jankovic at Wimbledon. It was crazy. They asked me when I was going to play her, have you seen her play, scouted her or whatever and I'm like, yeah I saw her play on TV, at the U.S. Open last year.

You were the youngest American to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon since Jennifer Capriati in 1993.

I didn't expect it at all. I was just playing, and it happened to click at Wimbledon. Going into it, I was looking to qualify. I almost lost my first round [in qualifying]. From playing in Roehampton [where qualifying is held] to [the main draw] at Wimbledon, it was like a whole different tournament. I played a seed, too. [Oudin defeated No. 29 Sybille Bammer in three sets in the first round.] I handled it well. Getting to the third round, I had nothing to lose by then. I was the underdog completely against Jankovic. I had a lot of people cheering for me, it was crazy. The whole experience was unbelievable to me.

Jankovic didn’t exactly dole out the credit to you afterwards. Did you pay attention to any of that?

I didn't read any of it. People told me. Everyone I think that saw the match or saw the stats... Everyone has their opinion. I was the one who ended up winning that day so basically that's all that mattered to me.

That same day in her press conference, Venus was asked if you'd ever come to her for advice. She said it doesn't really work like that in the pros. Do you wish it did? Here you have the two icons of the game, now 18 Grand Slam singles titles between Venus and Serena…

I think that would be cool. But just watching them though, I can learn tons of stuff. Just the way they act. I went and watched [Venus’] press conference and stuff, and learned how she handled herself in answering the questions. I've watched her a lot. I can learn a lot from them, both her and Serena.

With a twin sister who plays, you know all about sisterdom in tennis. What was it like to be home-schooled while Katherine went to regular school?

It was hard. We'd been together forever. Same schools, same classes a lot of the time. In the seventh grade, I home-schooled for the first time and she went back to middle school. That was when I decided that I was going to really work at this and turn pro. I couldn't become pro and go to normal school. It just wouldn't work. It was really hard. I missed out a lot, going to parties, dances, all that stuff, to train, and go to practices early in the morning, and tournaments, being gone. And she hasn't gotten to see the world like I have. But now, we've both matured and gotten older. We support each other.

Who did you look up to growing up?

Justine Henin. I love the way she plays. When I learned—watching her—that was my goal, to play like her. And also the fact that I think she's a little shorter than me and she was No. 1 in the world. [Oudin is 5-foot-6.]

You represented the U.S. in Fed Cup in February against Argentina, but weren’t on the team that beat the Czech Republic in April. Any ideas who might be making the team for the final in November?

It basically depends on if the Williams sisters play. If they play, I don't know if I'll be on the team. It's the week after the YEC [year-end championships in Doha, Qatar], and [Fed Cup] is in Italy. I hope they play because we want our best players to play. But I want to be on the team too. (laughs)

Do you feel like U.S. tennis fans are looking at you thinking, please do something, you're the Americans’ best shot for the future?

People have told me, "We want you to do something here, you're supposed to be the next one coming up." I don't listen to it that much. It doesn't bother me. People can say that if they want. People want me to do well, which is good. But I don't feel too much pressure about doing well. I can just play how I can play.

Do people expect you to be older? You're 17 but you've already done so much…

It's weird. At tournaments, people think I act older. They don't think I'm 17. But at home, I act more like a normal kid. I'm around all my friends that are my age. But here, it is my job. It's like a business, so I have to take it like that.

Is there anyone you look forward to playing who you haven't yet?

Definitely the Williams sisters. Either one of them. Just to see how I would do against them. I've watched them since I was little.

What are your goals?

I'm shooting for Top 50 by the end of the year. I think that's realistic. I still have a bunch of tournaments until the end of the year. Cincinnati, Toronto, New Haven...

Are you going to have to play in qualifying in every single one of them?

(Oudin grins)

You're like the qualifying kid. Do you insist on playing qualifying?

(laughs) That's what people have been saying! I'm three-for-three in my last three qualifyings. I'm hoping to just keep it going. People ask me, aren't you sick of qualifying? I'm honestly not. I don't mind qualifying. Sometimes if it's three long, long matches, and then it's kind of a pain if I get into the main draw and play someone who's really good. I'm tired. But it gives me experience. I get matches. I need to get my match count up for the year. I get used to the courts and by the time the main draw comes around I'm totally ready.

How well do you know the other up-and-coming Americans, and is there a feeling of cohesion?

I think that's kind of the problem in the United States. A lot of the American girls are so jealous of each other, and if someone does well they're not really happy for them. They don't try to compete against them and go "okay, I hope we can push each other and do better and hopefully we can get up the rankings." It's not like that. That's what the Russians do and all these other countries and that's how they're doing so well. I've been working really really hard. And I know they have too. I think if we could push each other more, and I'm definitely willing to do that, that's how we're going to get better. And help American tennis by doing that.
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Another one:
Originally Posted by Rosslyn View Post
Since advancing to the fourth round at Wimbledon in late June, Melanie Oudin of Marietta, Ga., has continued her rise to a career-high ranking of No. 68 on the Sony Ericcson WTA Tour. In a recent interview with, the 17-year-old discussed life as a qualifier, her decision to be home-schooled and her views on grunting. What is your mind-set for pre-tournament qualifying matches?

Oudin: It's an advantage sometimes. Playing two or three trying matches before the main draw is tough, but it can also prepare you. At Wimbledon it helped me because I got three matches on the grass, which I don't get to do very often. It's like a separate tournament. My last qualifying match at Wimbledon, I was just feeling it. My timing was 100 percent on. I felt like I could hit anything. I got a few net cords that went over. I went for my shots and everything went in. Sometimes I would just hit the line. My serve was on. The ball looked like a volleyball. I wish I could play like that all the time. You have to take advantage of it when that happens. That feeling obviously carried over to a degree. What was it like gaining your biggest win, against Jelena Jankovic, who appeared to be facing physical issues during the third-round match?

Oudin: I don't really pay attention to my opponents. I just try to focus on what I am doing in a match. I don't know if there was anything wrong with her, but it looked like there may have been. She was struggling with the heat even though it was only 85 degrees. I thought I had a pretty good match. If you go out on the court, you shouldn't have any more excuses. What was your family's reaction to that victory?

Oudin: I talked with them on the phone immediately afterward. They just said, "We're coming to London." I didn't even have a choice. I saw them while I was warming up for my match [against Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round]. I got to hug them and see them. It was nice that they were really there. At 5-foot-6, your idol is the undersized retiree Justine Henin. What do you take from her game?

Oudin: Everyone has their secret weapons. Henin played with such variety and was so quick. She used the court so nicely and used so many shots. If you're smaller, you have to learn to play like that. You're not going to be able to come up with a big serve at match-point down like the Williams sisters do. They can come up with huge shots because of their power and serve when needed. Marion Bartoli has beaten you twice this year. What does she do most effectively?

Oudin: She's very good at what she does. She can stand on the baseline and hit the ball as hard as she possibly can and it can go in every single time. If you do not get aggressive on her and play her smartly, she will take advantage of you. I lost to her at Stanford [last month] and she won the tournament. I'm looking forward to playing her again. The loudest you seem to get on the court are your "Come on!" shouts at yourself after points. What is your position on grunting?

Oudin: I don't think that you have to grunt. Breathing out is good when hitting the ball. Different people have their different ways. There should be a limit to how loud it can be. I don't really grunt ever. Growing up, you chose to be home-schooled while your twin sister, Katherine, decided to go the more traditional route. Have you ever played together?

Oudin: Not since 14-year-olds-and-under. We had different goals after that. She still plays for her high school team in Atlanta and they won states. I decided to be home-schooled in seventh grade at 13. That was the first time we were ever separated. We both support each other despite our different goals. Sometimes it's good to go different ways. With how much I improved in the first year at home, I knew it was the right choice.
There are other twins out there. The Bryan brothers, whom I had met before, called after I did well at Wimbledon. They're the opposite of my sister and me. We don't even look alike, let alone look like sisters. Staying in the family. Tennis has been ravaged by gambling scandals in the last year. As a frequent gin-rummy player, just how high are the stakes in your games with your grandmother?

Oudin: She has years of experience to draw from, but we enjoy our cards. I haven't played that often since I've been on the road. Can't wait to play again.
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A video interview:
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After the famous USO 2009 R3 win against Sharapova:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Five weeks ago you were playing against a kid from Boston College. Now you just beat a former US Open winner on center court. How do you make the transition?
MELANIE OUDIN: Itís not that hard for me ícause I love playing tennis no matter who Iím playing. Getting to play Maria today was an unbelievable experience for me. Sheís such a great competitor, a great player. I just had a blast playing there today.

Q. What did you learn?
MELANIE OUDIN: I learned, once again, proved to myself that I can compete with these top girls. And if I believe in myself and my game, then I can beat them.

Q. When someone double faults or has as much trouble on her serve as that, is it actually almost distracting?
MELANIE OUDIN: I knew she was struggling with her serve. She gave me some double faults, crucial, crucial points. But, I mean, a lot of things go into it. It was really tight in the match. I mean, it was like 5 All in the third. Nerves were kicking in and everything.
No, I thought I stayed focused pretty well. I didnít think it really affected me with the double faults.

Q. How has your life changed at all from the time you got to this tournament till now?
MELANIE OUDIN: I donít think itís changed at all. The only thing thatís different is more people know who I am. Thatís it. Everything else is exactly the same. Iím still the same person. I want to keep doing the same thing.

Q. Do people recognize you in places around and about?
MELANIE OUDIN: A little bit. Yesterday they did some. Probably now theyíre going to a little bit more (smiling).

Q. Can you talk about your competitive spirit?
MELANIE OUDIN: Iíve always been so competitive, doesnít matter what Iím doing. Whether Iím playing tennis, playing cards, playing some kind of like board game, I always want to win more than anything. Iím not going to give up, you know, no matter what the score is. Iím down 6 0, 5 0, you know, Iím not going to give up. Iím going to keep fighting.

Q. What was your approach tactically?
MELANIE OUDIN: Going into the match today I knew that Maria was going to be really powerful and I knew that she was going to be hitting the corners. I knew she has a really good serve. So I was going to just try to move as well as I could and play good defense, try to get her moving before I was the one moving and try to control the points.

Q. You seemed to be on the Russian express train here. Another Russian next up, Petrova. Thoughts on that match?
MELANIE OUDIN: I havenít really watched Petrova that much. She plays similar to a lot of the girls I played so far. Iím going to go into it like any other match and hopefully play well.

Q. Were you nervous when you had breakpoints and stuff like that?
MELANIE OUDIN: I was. I think I was really nervous in the beginning of the match. I started to calm down towards the second. And on breakpoints, I wanted the point so badly that sometimes I overplayed.
But I won the crucial ones, which is good.

Q. What has surprised you the most about what youíve done so far?
MELANIE OUDIN: I guess itís kind of surprising, but itís like Iíve worked so hard for this. Finally everything is just coming together. Iím playing how Iíve been wanting to play, how I knew I could play. I just havenít been able to do it continually for an entire match.
These past matches here, Iíve been able to keep it up the entire time, not just a couple points here or there, a set here and there, but like an entire match.

Q. What do you see ahead?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, if I keep playing like this, hopefully I can do well.
But I still think I can improve even from today. So hopefully I can just get better.

Q. Tennis players tell themselves a lot of things during a match. What did you tell yourself most often during that match?
MELANIE OUDIN: I was telling myself just to keep it up, keep making her play as many balls as I possibly could, you know, because we were out there a really long time. I knew that I was tight in the beginning, but I started relaxing. I thought I had the momentum going in the third. So, yeah, I meanÖ

Q. At Wimbledon you told us most of your friends were still in the juniors. You didnít know too many of the pros. Have you found a niche for yourself, better situated or comfortable on the tour?
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, definitely, definitely. Iím feeling way more comfortable. I think the whole thing is just getting the experience in playing in these tournaments, the Grand Slams, playing well. Getting to play these top girls, Iím learning a lot.

Q. What has been the key to not being intimidated by the situation and by the opponent?
MELANIE OUDIN: Itís tough. But I try to pretend that itís not like Arthur Ashe Stadium playing Maria Sharapova. I try to just pretend itís any other match, even just practicing. Sometimes I tell myself Iím just practicing at my academy at home and Iím just playing one of my friends. So itís not a big deal. So I donít think about the whole occasion (smiling).

Q. When you had over 20,000 New Yorkers screaming for you, what thoughts went through your mind?
MELANIE OUDIN: Every kind of emotion possible. I mean, I was crying. I was so happy and excited. I think Iím pretty sure I screamed after I hit that last shot. Just unbelievable feeling.

Q. Were there any moments during that match where you say to yourself that you canít believe itís happening?
MELANIE OUDIN: During the match, not really. After is when all that hits me. But during the match, I mean, I knew I was right with her. Again, I just had to believe that I could beat her. In the third, I was so close. I was like, All right, one more game, a couple points here and there, and I would have it.
So the main thing was just believing that I could do it.

Q. You donít remember screaming? You donít remember your feelings? You did scream.
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, Iím trying to remember them. That moment, itís so crazy. I donít even know how to explain it. Just a million things going through your mind. You know, the crowd was like roaring. Just everything imaginable.

Q. Your entire family here?
MELANIE OUDIN: No, just my mother.

Q. Are the rest of them maybe coming?
MELANIE OUDIN: Now that I won today, they could be coming back. Iím not sure yet, though.

Q. Years from now if you had to explain to a friend this day, what word would you use?
MELANIE OUDIN: Someone asked me this question at Wimbledon, how I would describe the whole experience. Thereís not really one word. Everything about it is just unbelievable. But basically I love to play tennis, and thatís why Iím here. Iím loving it.

Q. What do you think youíve shown about the weapons that you have in your game? This is something at Wimbledon, when you beat Jelena Jankovic, she said you didnít have weapons. What do you think youíve shown here?
MELANIE OUDIN: I think the biggest weapon can be mental toughness. It doesnít have to be a stroke or a shot or anything like that. If youíre mentally tough out there, then you can beat anyone. I think thatís what I really did well today and Iíve done in my past matches. Iím so focused and I fight super hard. So itís not going to be easy to beat me or Iím not going to back down at all.

Q. Is that something you learned, or you were born with that?
MELANIE OUDIN: I donít think I was born with it. But Iíve learned to do that. I mean, thatís how Iíve been for a long time. You know, all the years of training, my coach pushing me so hard, just getting through years of ups and downs and everything. Iíve learned to fight super hard.

Q. Do you think youíve seen a lot of other women choking in this Open?

Q. Yes.
MELANIE OUDIN: No, I donít think so. I donít think anyoneís been choking so far. But Iím hoping I wonít be one to choke (laughter).

Q. Is there a downside to your being so competitive in life?
MELANIE OUDIN: I donít think so. I think being competitive is really good.

Q. How will you celebrate this?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, actually I couldnít believe it was already like 6:30. I was like, Isnít this still the middle of the day? But apparently itís not. I guess weíll go eat dinner somewhere and celebrate that way.

Q. You have a French name. Do you know the history?
MELANIE OUDIN: My greatgrandfather is French, yes. But I donít speak any and my parents arenít French at all.

Q. Never been there?
MELANIE OUDIN: (Shaking head negatively.)

Q. Has anyone called you a giant killer yet?
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, actually a couple people have. I mean, I donít know. Weíll see how I do in the next round. Hopefully I can keep it up, yeah.

Q. Do you think Justine Henin has paid attention at all?
MELANIE OUDIN: I donít know if she has. That would be unbelievable. That would be really cool if she has. But I donít know.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with Brian. Somewhat unusual to have someone go through their whole development with one coach, what thatís meant to you.
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, Brian is like another dad to me. Iíve been with him since I was nine, so basically since I started playing tournaments. I mean, our relationship has just so many things Iíve learned from him. Weíve been through a lot together. Just to be in this position now, I mean, getting to the fourth round of the US Open, just a huge, huge deal. Getting through all of this is amazing. Iím really glad, like, weíve done it together.
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Originally Posted by hellas719 View Post
Q. You have a French name. Do you know the history?
MELANIE OUDIN: My greatgrandfather is French, yes. But I donít speak any and my parents arenít French at all.

Q. Never been there?
MELANIE OUDIN: (Shaking head negatively.)
What is she talking about?
She went to France for the French Open
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After beating Jankovic-Wimbledon 2009:

Q. You had a lot of set points there that you squandered. Did that discourage you for a while?

MELANIE OUDIN: Not really, because I knew I had so many chances. So, you know, after that first set I was right there with her, so all I had to do was keep going, keep fighting, and eventually it pulled through in the end.

Q. When we talked to you the other day, you were almost a little bit star struck. You went out and were very composed today.

MELANIE OUDIN: Yeah, uhm, you know, I went out there and actually did really well. Was just thinking that she was any other player and this was any other match and I was at any other tournament, you know, not like on the biggest stage at Wimbledon playing my first top 10 player.

But, yeah, I think I handled it really well today.

Q. Not many people beat their first top 10 player their first time out. Can you talk about that.

MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I mean, I just went out there today and I did my best. It ended up being good enough today, so I'm thrilled.

Q. Are you saying you managed to convince yourself that you weren't at Wimbledon?

MELANIE OUDIN: I mean I go into every match the exact same, you know, like no matter who I play. It's not like, Oh, my gosh, I'm playing the No. 1 player in the world. Every match is the same for me, because it all depends on what game I play and what shots I hit and all that stuff. So that's the only thing I can control.

Q. Did her medical break there at the end of the first set and then again for the foot, did that throw you at all? Did you have to get it out of your mind and just think about tennis?

MELANIE OUDIN: No, not at all. I mean, I was just focusing on my game and not worrying about anything that she was doing, so...

Q. There's so many great athletes who are so tall. Talk about your size, your height. Is that something that you use in some way as a positive? What is your approach?

MELANIE OUDIN: I mean, there's not much I can do about my height, you know. I wish I'd be a little bit taller, but there are advantages and disadvantages. You know, I mean, I take what I have and I do the best I can with it.

I think speed is my key thing. I have to be quick on the court because I'm not going to be, uhm, a lot bigger. I'm not going to get a lot bigger either.

Q. What was your goal when you showed up here to start for qualifying?

MELANIE OUDIN: My goal here was each match. I was planning on I wanted to qualify here really badly. And now I'm just taking each match at a time and seeing how it goes and just doing my best.

Q. Your coach was saying that after you won the final round of quallies he thought your confidence just locked in because you won that pretty easily. Can you talk a little bit about that. It even seemed today in the third set you were pretty sure when you had a ball into your wheelhouse you were going to deliver.

MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I mean, qualifying for Wimbledon was huge for me. I mean, that was my goal coming into the tournament, qualifying.

So, uhm, but, yeah, I mean, it definitely helped my confidence. Each match is helping my confidence definitely.

But, uhm, I mean, I don't think I'm a different player than I was before coming here.

Q. At the end of the first set, what were your immediate emotions on having lost that? If you can, give an idea of how things changed as you approached the second set.

MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I was so close. I had so many set points. So, I mean, I was a little bit angry that I didn't win them because I had so many chances. She played good points and I went for too much on them.

And then her first set point, she won it. So, uhm, but the thing was, like I knew I was right there. I mean, I was right there with her every single point, so I knew I could do it if I just kept trying and kept fighting.

Q. What were you thinking as she took that extended time‑out?

MELANIE OUDIN: Uhm, I mean, actually I didn't really ‑‑ it didn't really mess me up at all. Uhm, it was really hot out there today. We played a really, really long first set, like an hour and a half. I mean, I think it benefited both of us.

Q. Would you say it was the best day of your life so far, or is that getting a bit carried away?

MELANIE OUDIN: Maybe a little bit carried away. I mean, I'm very excited right now. But, you know, I'm hoping there will be better days, too.

Q. Another important day in your life I'm told is when you went to the US Open as a 12‑year‑old. Did that inspire you in any way?

MELANIE OUDIN: It did. It did a lot. I mean, the first time I went to the US Open was my first Grand Slam, and I've always said that I wanted to, you know, play in the pros there.

This is my first year in the pros in Wimbledon, and I'm actually in the fourth round. So, I mean, it's unbelievable.

Q. Memories of when you first saw this tennis tournament on TV.

MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, when I was like seven, when I started playing tennis, I saw Venus and Serena Williams playing here and I was like, Mom, I really, really want to play there one day.

Q. Did she say to chill out and be real or go for it?

MELANIE OUDIN: No, she said go for it. My parents have always been very supportive.

Q. How did the family get into the tennis? Is your twin sister going to try to play collegiate?

MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, yes. My twin sister is. She'll be a senior in high school. So, yeah. But my family, we've all played tennis. My grandma actually started my sister and I a long time ago, so that's pretty cool.

Q. Your dad is French?

MELANIE OUDIN: My dad is not exactly French, but my ancestors are.

Q. What do you feel about France? Have you been there? You don't speak the language, I guess.

MELANIE OUDIN: No, I don't. My dad does a little bit. But, yeah.

Q. There's a group of French journalists behind the Americans. They're claiming you today. You have more a French name than American name.

MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, my last name, Oudin, is French. But I'm totally American, for sure.

Q. Was the chair umpire pronouncing it correctly today?

MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, I think so. I'm pretty sure. Usually they don't pronounce it correctly. It's taken them so long to get it right. I don't even try to tell them any more.

Q. For the record, could you say it again.


Q. Let's talk about grandma. She goes to the local club and says, Let's go? Was she into tennis big‑time?

MELANIE OUDIN: She was. She actually still plays now. I started at her neighborhood courts, like at our neighborhood courts, because I live in the same neighborhood. Just played tennis with her.

We played Australian doubles, my sister and I, against her. It was so much fun. I loved it.

Q. What courts were those in Atlanta? What was the neighborhood?

MELANIE OUDIN: Charleston Forge in Marietta.

Q. You said when you were younger you used to watch the Williams sisters on TV.


Q. What do you remember feeling when you were watching them, and what might you have learned from their example?

MELANIE OUDIN: I've learned a lot from them. I mean, I was a lot younger, so I didn't really think about like key pointers and their strengths and weaknesses and all that stuff.

But I just ‑‑ they enjoyed it so much and they fought so hard, and I loved that competitiveness.

Q. Go back to last year. You lose to Robson here. Now you're in the second week of a Grand Slam. It's a long way from the juniors, huh?

MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, it's a long way from the juniors. But the thing is, I mean, I've been working so hard. I mean, it was disappointing last year, but I've always come back from it.

And, uhm, just being here, I mean, playing in the pros this year is unbelievable. And the fourth round of Wimbledon, I definitely did not see that coming at all. But I'm enjoying it.

Q. On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 is clear reality and ten is fantasy, dream, what number do we have here?

MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I'm going to answer that after the tournament's over, because it could get higher as the tournament goes on.

Q. Is your family here with you?

MELANIE OUDIN: No, none of my family's here. Just my coach.

Q. Do you think anybody might come to see you next week?

MELANIE OUDIN: My parents, I think, are coming. I'm not totally sure yet. But I think they're gonna try to surprise me.

Q. You seemed pretty mentally locked in. Certainly more than your opponent. You mentioned speed. Did you surprise yourself today, or is mental toughness something you think is a strength of yours?

MELANIE OUDIN: I think it's definitely one of my strengths. Uhm, I've always been mentally tough on the court, not letting anything, like, bother me on the outside, just focusing and keeping my face on the strings. Just thinking about the match and that's it.

Q. J.J. is known for a strong support team. Did the, C'mon J.J.s bother you at all?

MELANIE OUDIN: Actually not. I actually had a lot of people supporting me. I was surprised today.

Q. Are you aware and prepared, if a young American player shows some promise, all the focus is going to be on you back in the States in terms of U.S. tennis?

MELANIE OUDIN: Uhm, not really. I mean, all the Americans are working hard, and I'm hoping that a lot of upcoming Americans are coming up.

I mean, I don't ‑‑ you know, like playing here, I mean, I'm doing well here, but, uhm ‑ and I hope too keep going ‑ but I don't focus on what other people are talking about.

I mean, I don't think about, oh, my gosh, Melanie, you're the next upcoming American. Everyone is looking at you. All the pressure's on you. I don't think about that. I don't ever let that bother me.

Q. Is tennis your main strength, or are there a couple other things you're very good at or could have been very good at?

MELANIE OUDIN: I would say tennis is my main strength (laughter).

Q. What other interests do you have?

MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I used to play soccer. I had to choose between soccer and tennis. I loved tennis so much, I chose tennis. I think it was a good decision so far.

Q. You're quoted in one of the things I read saying your sister goes to regular high school, you were homeschooled. You missed a little bit of the high school atmosphere by not going; is that true?

MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, I did. 'Cause I started home schooling in seventh grade, so I only got one year of middle school. So, yes, I missed the high school atmosphere.

But I think what I'm doing is worth it. It's been my dream forever, so...

Q. Did you visit your sister at all at school?

MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, I did, in her like freshman year and stuff.

Q. What was your dream forever? Can you elaborate on that?

MELANIE OUDIN: Yes. I mean, being a professional tennis player. I mean, my goal has always been, since I was little, to become No. 1 in the world one day. But, I mean, you know, I know that it's going to take a lot more work and, you know, I'm gonna have to get better and better. But I'm willing to work on it.

Q. Who was your idol?

MELANIE OUDIN: Justine Henin.

Q. Why?

MELANIE OUDIN: Because she's proven that you don't have to be six feet tall to be No. 1 in the world and win so many Grand Slams. Her footwork is amazing. Just everything about her.

Q. And you don't have to be Russian either?


Q. How far away are you from getting a serve as strong as Justine's?

MELANIE OUDIN: Every day I'm working harder at it. I mean, hopefully soon.
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Oudin Injects Optimism Into American Women’s Tennis
Published: March 10, 2009

The United States Fed Cup captain, Mary Joe Fernandez, was watching a match at the Australian Open in January when her 7-year-old daughter said of one competitor, “Mommy, she is so positive.”

“You’re right,” replied Fernandez, who returned home and promptly sent an e-mail message to the obscure player, Melanie Oudin, to join the American team for its quarterfinal series against Argentina in February.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Oudin, 17, who had turned professional a year earlier.

Oudin’s Fed Cup story got better when she was surprisingly selected to play singles. In her first match, she pushed Argentina’s top player, Gisela Dulko, before losing by 6-2, 7-5. In her second match, she charged from a set down against Argentina’s No. 2 Betina Jozami in a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory that tied the best-of-five competition at 2-2. The American team went on to win, 3-2, and advanced to the semifinals against the Czech Republic on April 25-26.

Positive could be the word-association test answer to Oudin, who will step back on the court this week after she was granted a wild-card invitation to the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.

“You can’t tell if she’s winning or losing” by her facial expression or body language, Fernandez said. “Even when she’s down, she looks like she is up.”

At 5 feet 5 inches and forever looking up at her peers, Oudin (pronounced ooo-DAN) says she wishes she were taller “every single day.” She says she tries to fashion her game after that of the similarly diminutive Justine Henin.

“I can’t expect to get aces like those 6-foot Russians do all the time,” said Oudin, whose prematch ritual includes visualizing points that she never loses. “But I’m quick, so it kind of evens out.”

She was quick, too, in deciding on a career path. While watching a Wimbledon broadcast at age 9, Oudin turned to her mother and said, “I’m going to be on those courts by the time I’m 16.” And, she was, participating in the junior tournaments at Wimbledon and at the United States Open last year.

Oudin’s game took a quantum leap in seventh grade, when she began home-schooling. The flexible schedule allowed her to double her practice time to four hours on weekdays. But it also has deprived her of attending homecomings and school dances, something she said she envied about her fraternal twin, Katherine. Then she reminded herself that, “a lot of people would like to be in my shoes.”

Oudin was barely out of children’s sizes when, against the grain, she became a professional. Since the WTA implemented age eligibility rules that cap the number of tournaments teenagers can enter each year, the average age of WTA rookies has risen.

“It’s been her goal since she was 9,” said her mother, Leslie Oudin.

After Melanie conquered the junior circuit, her mother agreed to let her turn pro if she promised to eventually attend college.

“It’s my job now,” Oudin said of tennis. “This is a business.”

As the boss, she makes the tough decisions, like replacing her lifelong coach last month.

“I’m not good with hurting people’s feelings,” she said. “I just didn’t think the old coach could bring me to the next level. I need someone who’s been there.”

Grant Stafford, a former touring pro from South Africa, coaches Oudin six days a week, blending light banter and encouragement with rigorous training. A little more than an hour into one session, Oudin said with a gasp, “I feel like I’ve been on the court forever.”

When Oudin frowned at some gentle criticism, Stafford told her: “Remember, when I say something needs work, that doesn’t mean it is bad. You can be very critical of yourself.”

Except in the Oudin household in Atlanta, where her two sisters regularly beat her in matches — in the virtual world of Nintendo Wii tennis — critics of Melanie’s game are difficult to find.

“Her attitude on the court is fantastic, as good as I’ve seen,” said Ola Malmqvist, the director of women’s tennis development for the United States Tennis Association. “She never stops fighting. The way she goes about it, she will get the best out of her ability.”

Fernandez said she was struck by Oudin’s demeanor after her Fed Cup loss to Dulko

“She was really upset,” Fernandez said. “Sometimes, you don’t see that with young players. She wasn’t content with losing.”

Oudin is not assured a place on the Fed Cup team against the Czech Republic; her inclusion will hinge on whether Venus and Serena Williams, who declined an invitation to the quarterfinals because of scheduling conflicts, participate. If they opt in, Oudin will be out.

Oudin said she was O.K. with that. There will be more Fed Cups, more tournaments, more drop-to-the-knees victory poses.

About that, she is positive.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Oudin a welcome addition for U.S. tennis

For a few perilous hours earlier this month, the fate of the United States' Fed Cup team rested on the racket of a 17-year-old.

Trailing Argentina 1-2, the U.S. needed a victory from Melanie Oudin over Betina Jozami to stay alive in a first-round tie in Surprise, Ariz. Oudin's thirtysomething teammates -- Jill Craybas (34), Liezel Huber (32) and Julie Ditty (30) -- could do nothing to help her.

"I'm thinking, 'If I lose, the United States loses,'" Oudin said Monday from her home in Marietta, Ga. "Basically, it's up to me, and that's a lot of pressure."

Oudin (pronounced oo-DAN) played the first set like someone feeling that overwhelming pressure of the moment, winning only two of eight games. But then a funny thing happened. Actually, Oudin happened.

"I kept telling myself after that first set that this was just another match, another match against another girl," Oudin said. "The less I thought about the circumstances, the better I played."

Oudin blasted Jozami off the court in the last two sets, 6-1, 6-2, to even the tie at 2-all. And then Huber and Ditty prevailed in doubles to send the U.S. to the semifinals against the Czech Republic in April.

"I had an idea she'd come through in that match," said Mary Joe Fernandez, the U.S. team captain. "When she lost her [first] match to [Gisela] Dulko, she got really upset. She wasn't expected to win, but immediately afterward she said, 'I'd like to go hit some balls to get ready for tomorrow.' That kind of determination is good to see from a young player."

How did it all come down to Oudin, who turned professional only a year ago? For a decade, women's tennis in America has been largely about Serena and Venus Williams. They have won 17 majors between them and are ranked No. 1 (Serena) and No. 5 (Venus) in the world. In recent years they often were joined by Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati in the top 10, but those players have drifted from the scene. It might seem difficult to believe, but only two other U.S. women are ranked among the top 100. Can you name them?

The answers: Bethanie Mattek-Sands, at No. 38, and the No. 89-ranked Craybas. That's it. Only two women under the age of 20 are among America's top 10 players -- 19-year-old Alexa Glatch (ranked No. 139 in the world) and Oudin (No. 145).

When the Williams sisters declined Fernandez's invitation to play the Fed Cup, she turned to Mattek-Sands, who was forced to pass when she was injured. Fernandez worked her way down the depth chart and followed Oudin's qualifying matches at the Australian Open -- she won all three to reach the main draw.

"I was impressed with her attitude, so positive," Fernandez said. "At 17, she's really young by today's standards, but she exhibits a lot of maturity. You couldn't tell by her body language whether she was winning or losing. That's unusual for someone that age."

After talking it over with USTA coaches, Fernandez selected Oudin as the No. 2 singles player behind Craybas.

"I was the only American who qualified at the Australian Open," Oudin said. "But I was still shocked when I got the e-mail."

And whom did Oudin have to play two weeks later in the first round at Memphis? Fed Cup teammate Craybas.

"We gave each other a hug the first time we saw each other," Oudin said. "It was totally fine. We were cool."

Until Oudin beat Craybas in three sets. It was her best win of the year and recalled her surprise victory over No. 26 Sybille Bammer in November in Quebec, where she reached the quarterfinals before losing to Mattek-Sands.

Oudin turned professional in February 2008, but as a 16-year-old was permitted to play only 13 professional events last season. She chose to play in the junior draw of the four Grand Slam events and reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and was the No. 1 seed at Wimbledon.

This year, her first full-time season on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Oudin is restricted to 17 events, so she has done some creative scheduling. The Fed Cup doesn't count toward the total; neither do majors if she qualifies her way into the main draw, as she did in Australia. She requested a wild card into the upcoming tournament in Indian Wells and will attempt to qualify in Miami. She'll go through qualifying at Roland Garros and Wimbledon with the goal of lifting her ranking into the top 100 in time to gain direct admission into the U.S. Open's main draw. A year from now, she'd like to be in the top 50.

Ask her whose game she identifies with, and Oudin quickly offers her idol, Justine Henin. Oudin, like Henin, is about 5-foot-5 and survives on intelligence in a world of bigger, stronger women.

"She knows how to win, how to compete really well, but she's not that big," Fernandez said. "Once she gets hold of a point, she pretty much knows what to do, but I'd like to see her develop a better serve."

Said Oudin, "That's probably the biggest thing. I'm never going to have a lot of aces, but I can improve my placement and percentages. I'd also like to make my backhand more of a weapon. My forehand is definitely my strength."

Oudin spent 2008 working with Brian de Villiers but is now coached by Grant Stafford, a former top-100 player from South Africa.

She understands that, despite her age, there is a sense of urgency.

"Last year was a learning year for me," Oudin said. "This is the year I need to make my move. I know that. This is the year I need to do something, make a name for myself.

"I know there are so many things in my game that I can improve. I'm looking forward to the places I can go."
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From Memphis website:
5 Questions with Melanie Oudin

1. You just won your Fed Cup matches in France, how was that and what did it do for your confidence?
Representing my country in Fed Cup action is something I always dreamt of doing. Wearing the US marked warm up is an honor, and I tried to live up to this. I am really glad we beat France on their home turf, and I am especially thrilled that I played some really good matches and led the US to win the tie.

2. Last year you had some great runs at some of the Slams, what can you tell us about that, especially the US Open run?
I still get excited whenever I talk about my Wimbledon or my US Open run. It made me believe that I belong to the elite, and it just showed me that if I keep on working hard, I have no limits. Fortunately, there is still room to improve, which is exciting. I am looking forward to continue what I started in the summer of 2009 in Wimbledon, and I am looking to go even further.

3. This will be your third trip to Memphis, first time as the second seed, how do you rate your chances here?
You know, there are so many good players out there nowadays, you can’t really expect anything. Everyone has a chance till the last ball is played. Naturally though, it is better to get seeded but we shall see.

4. You have never played doubles here, will you in 2010?
I always consider doubles as an option; it just really depends on my schedule and my physical state.

5. Off the court do you have any plans or want to visit some of Memphis’s attractions?
During a tournament I don’t usually get a whole lot of time off, especially if I keep on winning, so I am hoping that this will be the case next week as well.
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Virgin Mobile USA Believes in Melanie Oudin; Partners with World Ranked Teen Tennis Sensation

Comprehensive Relationship Includes $1,000,000 Donation to Homeless Youth with U.S. Open Win

WARREN, N.J., Mar 09, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Virgin Mobile USA has announced its sponsorship of tennis pro Melanie Oudin as she continues on her quest to become tennis royalty, trying to capture a WTA Championship at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open today in Indian Wells, California.

In celebration of the new sponsorship, Virgin Mobile USA is committing to donate -- if Oudin wins this year's U.S. Open in September -- one million dollars to homeless youth organizations as part of The RE*Generation program, the company's initiative to raise awareness for the issue of homeless youth in the United States.

"The RE*Generation initiative was founded by Virgin Mobile to empower young people to help less fortunate peers resurrect their lives. We've made significant strides in raising awareness and direct involvement with the troubling issue of youth homelessness, and having an ambassador like Melanie Oudin committed to this cause is very powerful," said Bob Stohrer, vice president of marketing for Sprint's Virgin Mobile brand. "Melanie's 'Believe' mantra transcends tennis and naturally extends to the work we'll do together."

Oudin stepped onto the professional tennis stage last year at the age of 17 and made her mark quickly with her strong performances at Wimbledon and the 2009 U.S. Open. At the U.S. Open, she defeated Maria Sharapova, Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova to become the youngest American Grand Slam quarterfinalist since Serena Williams won the 1999 Open. Melanie has adopted "Believe" as her mantra and has stamped the word on the tennis shoes she wears during every match.

"I am thrilled to partner with Virgin Mobile USA. They have made great strides in their efforts to help disadvantaged youth, and the company brings excitement and creativity to everything it does," said Oudin. "I am looking forward to a great partnership."

Virgin Mobile USA will also provide fans with the chance to watch Melanie compete at this year's U.S. Open through their FREE I.P. program, which offers free tickets to concerts and events in exchange for volunteering time at not-for-profit homeless youth organizations. The FREE I.P. program, introduced last year, has already produced more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work and more than 5,000 tickets to the Virgin Mobile Festival and Virgin Mobile Presents The Monster Ball Tour Starring Lady Gaga.

For more details for fans and other details of the sponsorship visit

The RE*Generation is Virgin Mobile USA's pro-social initiative to address the issue of youth homelessness and empower a generation to help its own. For the past four years, Virgin Mobile has been a consistent voice in raising awareness for the more than two million young people living on the streets, raising funds and promoting volunteerism. With innovative programs like FREE.I.P., Virgin Mobile USA has encouraged thousands to volunteer supplies and their time to local homeless youth organizations, rewarding them with access to exclusive events like Virgin Mobile Festival and the Monster Ball Tour featuring Lady Gaga. The National Alliance to End Homelessness will honor Virgin Mobile USA with the 2010 Private Sector Achievement Award at its annual Kennedy Center Awards Ceremony in April 2010 for its significant contributions in the struggle to end youth homelessness. For more information, visit

About Virgin Mobile USA

Virgin Mobile USA, one of Sprint's Prepaid brands, offers millions of customers control, flexibility and connectivity through Virgin Mobile's Plans Without Annual Contracts for cell phone service and prepaid Broadband2Go high-speed Web access. Virgin Mobile USA also offers Pink Slip Protection*, which provides eligible monthly customers who lose their jobs free service for up to three months. Virgin Mobile Top-Up cards are available at almost 150,000 locations nationwide and can be used for Assurance Wireless and Broadband2Go services. For more information, visit

* Subject to certain terms and conditions.

SOURCE: Virgin Mobile USA
Congrats on another endorsement!
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Serena Williams honored as 2009 top player

(AP) – 35 minutes ago

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — World No. 1 Serena Williams won the 2009 WTA Tour Player of the Year award and also took the Doubles Team of the year honors with sister Venus at a ceremony held at the Sony Ericsson Open on Wednesday.

Serena Williams, wearing high heels despite a knee injury, was all smiles when picking up her award. She won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2009, was a semifinalist at the U.S. Open and a quarterfinalist at the French Open.

The Williams sisters won the 2009 Australian Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open doubles titles as well as the doubles crown at Stanford.

"It's exciting because I don't think we've won the Doubles Team of the Year award before," Serena Williams told The Associated Press. "I won the daily double today and that was cool."

U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters captured the Comeback Player of the Year and Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award. This marked the seventh time in Clijsters career she won the sportsmanship award.

American teen Melanie Oudin, who had a breakthrough 2009 season in reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon and quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, was honored as the Newcomer of the Year. Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who broke into the top 20 last year, won the Most Improved Player award.

Naturalized American Liezel Huber won The Player Service Award for the fourth time in her career. Among the causes Huber's raised money for are Hurricane Katrina victims and "Locks of Love," a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from medical hair loss.

Russian Elena Dementieva was voted as the Fan Favorite Singles Player of the Year by fans online.
First American to get the honor since Serena in 1998!
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post #14 of 36 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2010, 03:58 AM Thread Starter
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Re: News, Articles, Interviews, ...

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post #15 of 36 (permalink) Old Apr 14th, 2010, 04:45 AM Thread Starter
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From the tour site:
Make Room For Melanie

The accolades keep on coming for American Melanie Oudin. Thanks to her quarterfinal appearance in Ponte Vedra Beach, the rising star jumped from No.41 to a career-high of No.36 - her Top 40 debut - on the new rankings.

Oudin, whose other highlights this year include a semifinal showing in Paris [Indoors] and a quarterfinal run in Memphis, cracked the Top 50 for the first time following her dramatic march to the semifinals of last September's US Open. The 18-year-old, who will try to improve on last year's Family Circle Cup round of 16 showing this week in Charleston, has a good chance to ascend the rankings further, as she did not play in any of the pre-Roland Garros European clay court events in 2009, but is expected to play in Rome and Madrid this year.

Also making noise was Serena Williams, who despite being inactive since the Australian Open, is spending her 98th career week at No.1, tied with Lindsay Davenport for seventh all-time. She has a chance to catch sixth place Justine Henin at 117 weeks later this year, though the 2009 Roland Garros quarterfinalist, Wimbledon champion and US Open semifinalist will have a lot of points to defend in the coming months.

Two of last week's quarterfinalists in Marbella, both of whom were making their Sony Ericsson WTA Tour main draw debuts, made the two biggest ranking jumps of the week of those in the Top 200. Beatriz GarcŪa Vidagany went from No. 258 to No.195 and Simona Halep went from No.166 to No.145.
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