Homestead: Honorary starter named
Miami, FL 11/06/03- Tennis superstar and South Florida resident Serena Williams has been named honorary starter and will wave the green flag to start the NASCAR Winston Cup Ford 400 on Sunday, November 16 at the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway, track president Curtis Gray announced today.
As the honorary starter for the Ford 400, Williams will wave the green flag for a history-making race as 33 years of Winston's sponsorship of NASCAR's premier series come to a close with NEXTEL taking over the series sponsorship in 2004. Moreover, Williams will greet the stars of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series during pre-race driver introductions.
"I love NASCAR racing," Williams said. "After attending the Daytona 500, I became addicted to the sport... It's so exciting. I'm honored to be waiving the green flag at the Ford 400. It's a dream come true, and I can't wait!"
Williams owns six Grand Slam titles, 23 WTA singles titles and 11 WTA doubles titles. She is also the two time defending champion of the NASDAQ-100 Open held every March in Miami and she first defeated her older sister Venus at the NASDAQ-100 Open en route to reaching No. 1 in the world in 2002.
During the 1999 season, 17-year old Serena defeated Martina Hingis in the U.S. Open, becoming the first African American woman to capture a Grand Slam singles title since Althea Gibson won five Grand Slam events in the 1950's. The 2000 season marked another milestone as Serena won Olympic gold medals in singles and doubles, becoming the only other woman since Helen Willis Moody in 1924 to accomplish the feat.
Along with Venus, Serena is credited with raising public awareness of women's tennis and with bringing the sport to a new level of power and athleticism. Williams, 22, currently resides in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Both Serena and Venus attended the Art Institute of Florida where they studied fashion design.
"We are delighted to have Serena as the honorary starter for the Ford 400 and we're proud that she'll be participating in Ford Championship Weekend here in her own backyard.," Gray said. "What a weekend of champions as Serena and Florida Marlins star Jeff Conine, who was recently named honorary race chairman, join NASCAR's champions from past and present here at Homestead-Miami Speedway."
Tickets are still available for Ford Championship Weekend on November 13-16 by calling 305-230-RACE or by logging onto www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com
. The weekend will feature the season finales for the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series.