Net Work - The Key for Venus
Net work is the key for Venus
It should be painfully obvious to Venus Williams by now. She should probably even start looking for a new coach. Tell mom and dad, "thanks, but no thanks."
Little sister Serena is running away with women's tennis, and if Venus wants to do anything about it, she has to look deep inside and make some serious changes to her game.
Serena, who won raves for a bit part on the television show My Wife and Kids and has a Hollywood agent reviewing scripts, has shown no signs of distraction. She has won three of the four tournaments she has entered this year, including the Australian Open, which gave her the Serena Slam. She has won 21 of 22 matches in 2003, losing only in the final of last weekend's clay-court Family Cup Circle to clay-court specialist Justine Henin-Hardenne.
Serena may be tired of winning. Literally. Serena notified the WTA Tour on Tuesday that she has withdrawn from the MasterCard German Open in Berlin on May 5 so she can rest as she prepares to defend her French Open title.
Venus should realize that her time may never come again – unless Serena picks acting over tennis or unless Venus is ready to attack the net like Martina Navratilova.
No one has ever seen a serve in the women's game like Venus Williams'. At 125 mph, Venus serves harder than Andre Agassi. And no one has ever seen a wingspan – from fingertip to fingertip it's 6-6 – on a more athletic female tennis player. She should never lose Wimbledon, where a serve and volley have often led to Centre Court meetings with the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Ask Navratilova (nine titles) and Pete Sampras (seven). Venus' court coverage has always been impressive from the baseline, but at 6-1, she's even more daunting at the net.
She turns into Patrick Roy, snuffing out every lob and passing shot hit her way. It's not like Venus doesn't have pedigree at the net. She's won six Grand Slam doubles titles with Serena and two mixed doubles crowns in majors.
The problem may be that her coaches – mom and dad – have always encouraged her to bang from the baseline. Their practices are full of baseline work. And if Venus isn't being coached to her strengths, then that's why she's uncomfortable at the net.
If Venus doesn't get to the net soon, she may find herself looking up to little sister in the rankings and trophy presentations for some time to come.
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