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Olympic News

Venus Williams: US Olympic Tennis Hopeful



by Randy Walker - U.S. Tennis Association (914-696-7289)



Venus Williams
Tennis: Singles, Doubles
2004 U.S. Olympic Hopeful

Introduction:
Sports fans grew familiar with the sight of Venus Williams winning tennis tournaments in the summer of 2000. She leaped in the air with glee on the lawns of Wimbledon after winning her first Grand Slam singles title in July. She waved to the boisterous spectators in New York after winning the US Open in September. But it was Olympic gold that brought tears to the eyes of the 20-year-old tennis superstar.

The 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Russia’s up-and-coming star Elena Dementieva in the gold medal women’s singles match at the 2000 Olympics not only solidified the domination of women’s tennis by Williams in 2000, but also fulfilled a fantasy that Williams never even dreamed of achieving.

“Obviously, the Wimbledons and the Grand Slams, you have so many opportunities to win those, but this gold medal is just every four years,” said Williams. “Who knows in 2004, I won’t be chosen or you never know what is going to happen, so this is the one moment in time for me, for my country, for my family, for the team.”

Williams became a part of Olympic history in Sydney, when she also won Olympic gold in doubles with her younger sister Serena. Williams joined Helen Wills as the only women to win Olympic gold medals in singles and doubles. She and Serena also became the first set of sisters to ever win Olympic gold medals in tennis.

Following her performance in Sydney, Williams – and her sister Serena – turned the women’s tennis world into their own family tennis outing as the two sisters would go on to win seven of the next 11 Grand Slam women’s singles titles. Venus won her third and fourth career Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2001. Her 2001 US Open singles final round victory came at the expense of Serena in the first Grand Slam final played between siblings since Wimbledon in 1884 when Maud Watson defeated sister Lillian Watson. Venus reached subsequent Grand Slam singles final at the 2002 French Open, Wimbledon, US Open, the 2003 Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2003 – only to lose to sister Serena in the final.

Personal Side:
Venus started V Starr Interiors, her own interior decorating firm located in Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, Fla. (www.vstarrinteriors.com). Her older sister Yetunde was tragically killed in September of 2003. Other sisters are Isha and Lyndrea.

Performance:
· 2000 Olympic gold medallist in women’s singles and women’s doubles (with Serena Williams)
· US Open women’s singles champion 2000, 2001
· US Open women’s singles finalist 1997, 2002
· US Open women’s doubles champion in 1999 (with Serena Williams)
· Wimbledon women’s singles champion 2000, 2001
· Wimbledon women’s singles finalist 2002, 2003
· Wimbledon women’s doubles champion in 2000 and 2002 (with Serena Williams)
· French Open women’s singles finalist 2002
· French Open women’s doubles champion in 1999 with Serena Williams
· Australian Open women’s singles finalist 2003
· Australian Open women’s doubles champion in 2001 with Serena Williams
· Member of the U.S. Fed Cup team in 1999 and 2003.

Athens Watch:
Williams is seeking to become the first player to ever successfully defend a gold medal in singles at the Olympic Games. The only players to ever successfully defend any gold medal in the Olympic tennis competition were Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernandez, who won gold medals in women’s doubles at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.

Did You Know?
- Born June 17, 1980 in Lynwood, Calif.
- Has an extensive Olympic pin collection from the 2000 Games in Sydney.
- Learned tennis on the public courts of Compton, Calif.
- First organized tennis event in her life was participating in the USTA National Junior Tennis Program – an inner-city grass roots program starting by Arthur Ashe.

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Serena Williams: 2004 US Olympic Tennis Hopeful



by Randy Walker - U.S. Tennis Association (914-696-7289)


Serena Williams
Tennis: Singles, Doubles
2004 U.S. Olympic Hopeful

Introduction:
At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, Serena Williams is seeking a singles gold medal to go with her doubles gold that she won with older sister Venus in 2000. The way that the youngest Williams sibling has been competing in the four years since the Sydney Games, you’d have to like her chances in adding to her collection of gold.

Following her gold medal winning performance in Sydney, Williams – and sister Venus – turned the women’s tennis world into their own family tennis outing as the two sisters would go on to win seven of the next 11 Grand Slam women’s singles titles. Serena began what was being called “The Serena Slam” by winning the 2002 French Open, defeating Venus in the final. Serena then won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon and the US Open – defeating Venus is both finals – before starting 2003 by winning her fourth Grand Slam singles title in a row, defeating Venus in the women’s singles final Down Under. Serena became only the fifth woman to win four consecutive Grand Slam singles titles (Martina Navratilova, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf and Maureen Connolly being the others). Her streak of Grand Slam singles titles was halted in the semifinals of the 2003 French Open by Justine Henin-Hardenne, but she was able to return to the winners circle at Wimbledon in 2003, with her sixth career Grand Slam singles title.

When she won the 1999 US Open singles title, she became the first African-American woman since Althea Gibson won the 1958 US singles title to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Williams became a part of Olympic history in Sydney, when she also won Olympic gold in doubles with her younger sister Serena. Williams joined Helen Wills as the only women to win Olympic gold medals in singles and doubles. She and Serena also became the first set of sisters to ever win Olympic gold medals in tennis.

Personal Side:
Has pursued an acting career when she is not competing in tennis, appearing on the sit-come “My Wife and Kids” and appeared in a cameo appearance in Martin Lawrence’s movie “Black Knight.” Her older sister Yetunde was tragically killed in September of 2003. Other sisters are Isha and Lyndrea. While her older sister Venus was competing in the singles competition at the 2000 Olympic Games, Serena took in as many events as she could during her downtime.

Performance:
· 2000 Olympic gold medallist in women’s doubles (with Venus Williams)
· US Open women’s singles champion 1998, 2002
· US Open women’s singles finalist 2001
· US Open women’s doubles champion in 1999 (with Venus Williams)
· Wimbledon women’s singles champion 2002, 2003
· Wimbledon women’s doubles champion in 2000 and 2002 (with Venus Williams)
· French Open women’s singles champion 2002
· French Open women’s doubles champion in 1999 with Venus Williams
· Australian Open women’s singles champion 2003
· Australian Open women’s doubles champion in 2001 with Venus Williams
· Member of the U.S. Fed Cup team in 1999 and 2003.

Athens Watch:
Williams is looking to add singles gold to the doubles gold that she won at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. If selected for doubles duty, she and her sister Venus will seek to become the second players to ever successfully defend a gold medal. The only players to ever successfully defend any gold medal in the Olympic tennis competition were Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernandez, who won gold medals in women’s doubles at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.

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Venus, Serena Williams look to Olympics

By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
The Associated Press
6/15/2004, 3:30 p.m. ET


NEW YORK (AP) — The Athens Olympics are two months away, but tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams are already planning their on-court wardrobes.

Serena wants to show off her new micro-mini shorts; Venus is more coy, saying, "I'd rather you wait and see."

She added: "I plan EVERYTHING around my outfits."

While the Williams sisters haven't been officially named to the U.S. Olympic team, they are considered a lock. Coach Zina Garrison must officially announce her roster of players by June 28.

Back in March, it seemed as if Serena was wavering about whether she'd play in Athens because of security concerns. But on Tuesday, she seemed determined to play — and play well.

When asked what she'd like to bring back from Greece as a souvenir, Serena said, "Hardware."

"Preferably gold," Venus added.

Together they won the gold medal in doubles in 2000, and Venus won the singles gold during the Sydney Games.

The sisters were in New York to see the prototype of a hat Venus designed for McDonald's Olympic Champion Crew, the fast-food chain's employees from all over the world who will be working in Athens.

She hopes the oversized newsboy cap is "more fun and urban and more out of the ordinary" than the visors and baseball caps she initially considered.

It's not uncommon to see Venus, who turns 24 Thursday, wearing some sort of hat. "I don't always pick up my brush! You'll see my hair and it looks good but under that hat, it's a minefield!" she said with a laugh.

To create the hat, Venus said she "sketched, scanned, did some line drawings and superimposed the logo," all skills she learned during at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.). Her current courses include childrenswear and she expects to begin classes on computer-assisted design and swimwear soon.

Serena, 22, expects her older sister to put in some hours this summer at the offices of her fashion label, Aneres.

The Williamses, the top two U.S. female tennis players, also are participating in McDonald's fitness and active lifestyle programs.

They say they see it as their duty to live healthy lives because they have become role models to the next generation.

"Sometimes people in these kind of positions get involved in questionable activities, especially at our age. We enjoy being good role models," Venus said. "We're not perfect but we work hard and have fun and we're attractive and strong and have high standards."

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Serena Williams, left, admires her sister Venus's handiwork as she models a hat Tuesday, June 15, 2004 in New York designed for the 2004 Olympic Summer Games. The duo's recently expanded partnership with McDonald's will include support of Go Active! -- the company's fitness and active lifestyle program. The Williams sisters also will be featured on McDonald's Olympic packaging and star in Olympic and Ronald McDonald themed television commercials.

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Williams sisters, Capriati, Roddick on Olympic tennis teams
June 26, 2004

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Martina Navratilova, Serena and Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Andy Roddick head the U.S. Olympic tennis teams announced Saturday at Wimbledon.

Navratilova this week became the oldest woman since 1922 to win a singles match at Wimbledon, where she's also entered in women's doubles and mixed doubles. She'll make her Olympic debut at 47 and will play doubles.

``She has done everything possible to have that opportunity,'' U.S. women's coach Zina Garrison said. ``She is totally, totally geeked about going.''

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The Williams sisters won the women's doubles at the 2000 Sydney Games, and Venus won the singles gold. They'll play singles and doubles at the Aug. 13-29 Athens Olympics. Capriati and Chanda Rubin will play singles, while Navratilova and Lisa Raymond will be the other doubles team.

Roddick, the U.S. Open champion who's ranked No. 2, will be joined on the men's squad by No. 20 Mardy Fish, No. 30 Vince Spadea and No. 31 Taylor Dent in singles, plus the top-ranked doubles team of twins Bob and Mike Bryan. Roddick and Fish will play doubles together. ``I'm impressed at how excited our guys are,'' U.S. men's coach Patrick McEnroe said. ``It's honestly all they talk about.''

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Roddick, Federer, Serena advance on 'People's Sunday'


June 27, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports
WIMBLEDON, England -- Andy Roddick and Roger Federer reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon while thousands of fans lined up to be part of the third "People's Sunday" in 127 years.

Advertisement var ShockMode = 0;var plugin = (navigator.mimeTypes && navigator.mimeTypes["application/x-shockwave-flash"]) ? navigator.mimeTypes["application/x-shockwave-flash"].enabledPlugin : 0;if (plugin &&parseInt(plugin.description.substring(plugin.des cription.indexOf(".")-1)) >=4) { ShockMode = 1;}else if (navigator.userAgent &&navigator.userAgent.indexOf("MSIE")>=0 && (navigator.userAgent.indexOf("Windows 95")>=0 || navigator.userAgent.indexOf("Windows 98")>=0 || navigator.userAgent.indexOf("Windows NT")>=0)){ document.write(''); document.writeln(' on error resume next '); document.write(' ShockMode = (IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFl ash.4")))'); document.write('');}if ( ShockMode ){document.write(" \n \n \n \n");}else if (!(navigator.appName&& navigator.appName.indexOf("Netscape")>=0 &&navigator.appVersion.indexOf("2.")>=0)) { document.write('http://<img &#39;);document.write(&#39;SRC=h...#39; border=0>');} on error resume next ShockMode = (IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFl ash.4"))) Wimbledon organizers were forced to schedule matches on the middle Sunday -- usually a rest day -- to clear a backlog after washouts Wednesday and Saturday.

The top-ranked Federer hit 44 winners and advanced with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Thomas Johansson. There were about 8,000 people still in lines outside when Federer rifled a forehand return on match point after 1 hour, 37 minutes.

Centre Court was full by the time defending women's champion Serena Williams beat Spain's Magui Serna 6-4, 6-0 in 58 minutes.

The top-seeded Williams looked subdued with both her mother and father watching from the stands, but still had 11 aces and 29 winners with only one double-fault and 11 errors.

Williams got off court just before showers delayed play late in the afternoon.

She'd followed Tim Henman onto Centre Court, and the crowd was worked up after the British favorite beat Morocco's Hicham Arazi 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Second-seeded Roddick beat fellow American Taylor Dent 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-1).

"I played well today, I lifted my game -- I was forced to," Roddick said. He'll meet 6-foot-7 Alexander Popp in the next round.

Dent took a 6-3 lead in the second set tiebreaker when Roddick hit a forehand return wide. Roddick then angrily slammed his racket to the grass, and the outburst apparently helped. He won the next five points and closed out the set with a backhand winner.

In the final tiebreaker, Dent missed four volleys and fell behind 6-0. Roddick closed out with a service winner, then raised his arms to cheers on Court 1, which was half empty even at the end of the match.

"The people that were there really wanted to be there. It was loud," Roddick said. "The whole week's been wacky so why not today, too?"

Henman saved three break points serving at 0-2 in the fourth set before holding and winning the next five games to overcome Arazi.

Britain's biggest hope for a first men's singles title here since 1936, Henman was obviously lifted by the crowd, which clapped loudly, whistled and chanted his name after big points.

"The quality was not always great ... I need to play better but I still fancy my chances," he said. "It was a phenomenal atmosphere -- I've been so lucky to have had the opportunity to play the middle Sunday twice."

In 1997, Henman beat Paul Haarhuis 14-12 in the fifth set to win on People's Sunday.

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Vincent Spadea pulls off the upset of eighth-seeded Rainer Schuettler. (Getty Images)
He's into the fourth round here for the ninth consecutive year and next faces 2003 finalist Mark Philippoussis, who beat Fernando Gonzalez 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 7-5.

When heavy rain stopped play in the late afternoon, the last two matches in the third round were each into a third set.

Tatiana Golovin and Emmanuelle Gagliardi were 3-3 in the third, playing for a spot against Williams in the fourth round, while Virginia Ruano Pascual and 14th-seeded Silvia Farina Elia were one set apiece.

All other third-round men's and women's singles matches were completed.

The tournament was 33 matches behind schedule after the first week, including the extra day. Long lines had effect on the attendance figures, with only 22,155 of the 28,000 available tickets sold and plenty of vacant seats on outside courts.

In an early upset, 30th-seeded Vincent Spadea of the United States knocked off No. 8 Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. He next plays 12th-seeded Sjeng Schalken, who beat Thomas Enqvist in five sets.

With tickets on sale on a first-come, first-serve basis, thousands of people who'd camped on the sidewalk overnight and arrived at dawn started filling Centre Court for the first match. Normally, most of the tickets for that court are sold as part of expensive packages, through a pre-tournament lottery, or to the first 500 people in line each day.

Extra security, including bag searches, meant staff could only let 5,000 people through the gates per hour. The gates opened about 9 a.m. local time, two hours before play began.

Federer was first on court. He broke Johansson once in each set, returning in top form after Saturday's wash out.

"I think the people were just really happy to see some tennis. It was a great crowd out there," Federer said. "I'm feeling very good, definitely better than last year because I know I already won this tournament so I know I can do it again."

Federer next plays Ivo Karlovic, who hit 39 aces to beat No. 18 Feliciano Lopez.

Court 1 was less than half full when seventh-seeded Jennifer Capriati beat Nathalie Dechy 7-5, 6-1 in the first singles match completed in more than 40 hours at Wimbledon.

Also, fourth-seeded Amelie Mauresmo advanced and Karolina Sprem -- who eliminated Venus Williams -- defeated No. 32 Meghann Shaughnessy 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2).

On Court 7, Wayne Ferreira's record 55th consecutive Grand Slam event ended in a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 loss to Florian Mayer, who upset Guillermo Coria in the second round.

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June 27, 2004



© Getty Images

Seeds Prevail During Rare Middle Sunday at Wimbledon

LONDON - For only the third time in the 127-year history of Wimbledon, matches were played on the middle Sunday at the All England Club. And fortunately for the top seeds, there were no historical upsets recorded on this rare day of play. Two-time defending champ Serena Williams continued her domination at the grass court event, winning her her 17th straight match at the event by defeating Magui Serna, 64 60. Williams has now reached the fourth round at the All England Club five straight years as she continues her path for her seventh Grand Slam title.

"I'm really feeling really satisfied with my movement because especially in the second set she was hitting the slice," Williams said. "But I started adding the spin and really actually playing grass court tennis instead of clay court or hard court. I was beginning to come to the net a little bit more. I was pretty excited about it. So I'm getting better each round."

Williams also used a variety in her serve, relying on some advance from her father, Richard Williams, to take some pace off her serve.

"For years my dad's been telling me, 'Take the pace off. Don't hit them 120 if you can hit it 110,'" Williams said. "First time in 10 years I decided, 'Okay, hmm...' It finally clicked. 'Okay, I'm only gonna hit 110 and just place it and it worked every time.' I took a lot of pace off and got it in."

No.4 seed Amelie Mauresmo dropped just five games in her 61 64 victory against Ludmila Cervanova. The 2002 semifinalist got off to a quick start to the match, but struggled a bit with her serve throughout the match.

"Perfect first set," said Mauresmo of her start to the match. "Then I got into a little bit of trouble in that second set where my serve went down a little bit and I wasn't so effective as I was in the first set. But I'm happy to play today and go through this one. That's the most important thing.

"I didn't serve quite as well as I would love to and not as well as I did for the last match. So, yeah, I got a little bit frustrated with that, which I shouldn't."

No.7 seed Jennifer Capriati reached the fourth round at Wimbledon for the fifth straight year, defeating No.25 seed Nathalie Dechy, 75 61. The 28-year-old American has twice reached the semifinals at the grass court event, but has never made it to the championship match. Yet, Capriati has looked strong through the first seven days of action, facing very little opposition in three straight sets victories.

"I think if I just keep doing whatever it is that I was doing," Capriati said. "It's hard with all the delays. It kind of breaks up your rhythm. I feel like I came in with a really good rhythm, just really sharp. With the rain and everything, you sit around and it's hard to not just get sluggish and just kind of, you know, lose that quickness. That's one of the toughest things."

Capriati will face her toughest challenge of the tournament in the fourth round when she goes up against No.10 seed Nadia Petrova, who moved into the final 16 with a 76(5) 62 win against Ukraine's Tatiana Perebiynis. The victory marked Petrova's second appearance in the fourth round at Wimbledon and first since 2001.

It will be the first meeting between Capriati and Petrova since the fourth round of last year's Roland Garros, a match that Petrova won in three sets. Capriati leads their all-time series 2-1 and this will be their first meeting on grass.

Two of the three matches between these two Top 10 players have gone to three sets and Capriati knows she'll have to execute her game strategy in order to defeat Petrova.

"I'll just try to take the initiative right off the bat and use my power and my groundstrokes, keep feeling confident to come to the net," Capriati said. "I think she'll be trying a lot of that, so it's important for to me just not let her do that, and to keep serving and returning well. Obviously on the grass, as long as I can rely on my serve and hold my own serve, then I can concentrate more on trying to break her, too."

No.9 seed Paola Suarez made her second straight fourth round at Wimbledon with a 61 46 60 victory against Anne Kremer. Suarez will take on Rita Grande in her next match after the Italian player reached her first Wimbledon fourth round with a 64 46 63 win against France's Virginie Razzano.

The final two third round matches from the bottom portion of the bracket were also completed on Sunday. Karolina Sprem, whose remarkable win against two-time winner Venus Williams in the second round was the talk of the first week, reached the fourth round in her second visit to the All England Club, defeating No.32 seeded American Meghann Shaughnessy in a pair of tiebreaks, 76(5) 76(2).

After defeating Williams, Sprem said it took sometime to move past the joy of such a big victory and prepare for her next match.

"Before I was going to sleep, I was just saying, 'You need to forget this. It's big win for you, but you need to forget this. Tomorrow, it's new day. You have practice, you need to rest, and you need to prepare for the next match,' Sprem said.

"It was tough to go on the court because after so big win against Venus, it's not easy play today. But I was just going on the court and I was just want to play the match how I was playing against Venus, my tennis. And (Shaughnessy) was playing well. She was serving well. She was return well. She's also one of great player."

Sprem has setup a fourth round matchup against No.21 seed Magdalena Maleeva, who reached the fourth round for the third time in 12 trips with her 75 63 win against Denisa Chladkova.

Two matches were unable to finish due to rain later in the day. French teenager Tatiana Golovin was tied with Switzerland's Emmanuelle Gagliardi, 63 26 3-3 and the winner will next face No.1 seed Serena Williams. No.14 seed Silvia Farina Elia came back to tie up her match with Virginia Ruano Pascual, 26 64 before the rain began to fall. The winner of that match will face No.4 seed Amelie Mauresmo.

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Serena Storms On © Reuters Sunday, June 27, 2004

Serena Williams moved another step closer to a hat-trick of Championship victories at Wimbledon, after she defeated Spain's Magui Serna 6-4, 6-0 on Centre Court.

The defending champion, who has yet to concede a set, was always in contol and would have won even more easily had she been able to keep her unforced errors down.

The left-handed Serna, who is ranked 53, was outgunned from the start and never looked capable of breaking her dismal sequence of not having taken a set off Serena in their previous three matches. She managed to stay level until the seventh game of the first set, when the American was the beneficiary of Serna's forehand into the net to set up break point and then a wild Spanish forehand which flew yards out of court.

Though she held serve at the next time of asking, Serna dropped the opening set in 30 minutes and failed to win another game as Williams applied the pressure.

She had a brief moment of hope, setting up a break point early in the second set but Serena blasted her way out of trouble with three aces to finish with a total of 11 for the match and a session of blowing kisses at the conclusion to the crowd.

Serena Williams said her first experience of 'People's Sunday' was 'fun' but said she was very relieved to have completed the match before the rain delay.

And despite the ease of which she completed her victory Williams spoke highly of her opponent: "Serna's very tricky and has a really wicked serve."

Williams will now face either Golovin or Gagliardi in round four who are currently tied at 3-3 in the third and final set. However Williams put out a ominous warning to whoever she will face when she confidently said that she is "getting better each round".

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S. Williams Interview
Sunday, June 27, 2004



THE MODERATOR: Serena Williams for you.

Q. How good is it to be finished before the rain delay?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's really good. I saw the people coming to the -- the attendants coming, looked like they were going to cover the court at 4-love. I was like, "Oh, boy, I better really -- don't want to be up 5-love, 40-15 and have to come off the court." That would have been really unfortunate.

Q. One match was interrupted between Golovin and Gagliardi. You are going to play the winner. Do you know the French girl, Golovin?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She's been doing really well. I saw her play at the French Open, actually. I've been watching her game a little bit. I've played Gagliardi before so, yeah...

Q. Was this your best performance of the fortnight? She's a tricky player to play.

SERENA WILLIAMS: She's very tricky. I'm really feeling really satisfied with my movement because especially in the second set she was hitting the slice. But I started adding the spin and really actually playing grass court tennis instead of clay court or hard court. I was beginning to come to the net a little bit more. I was pretty excited about it.

So I'm getting better each round.

Q. It seems like you had real good rhythm on your serve, too.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I did. For years my dad's been telling me, "Take the pace off. Don't hit them 120 if you can hit it 110."

First time in 10 years I decided, "Okay, hmm..." It finally clicked. "Okay, I'm only gonna hit 110 and just place it and it worked every time." I took a lot of pace off and got it in.

Q. Jennifer Capriati said the rain made her sluggish for her last match. Is that responsible for why you didn't start so quickly in the first set?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I just didn't start so quickly because I was still getting a rhythm. She hit some pretty good shots. I was getting used to her game for the first few games. She has a really wicked serve. Her balls are literally this low off the ground, so you really have to be low.

Q. How would you sum up your first week at Wimbledon this year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I made it through with all the rain. This is the first time I played on the Sunday - I think.

Q. Just mentally compare yourself to last year at this time after the first week, how you're feeling, how the game's going, confidence level, all that.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, I'm feeling better and I'm trying to feel -- last year, wasn't really feeling really good my play. Really was disappointed in it. This year I'm just feeling better because I've been through a lot physically, you know. And just for me to be at this point right now, where I'm really, really, really feeling good for the first time, so I'm really looking at the positives.

Q. Could you step back for a moment and share with us where you might like your life to be in about 20 years from now, way down in the distant future.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Twenty years from now, that would make me... 32 (laughter).

I would, you know, I would see my company Aneres, we'd be really huge - hopefully. If it's blessed enough, we'd have a really solid company with my clothing line and hopefully have a few little Serenas running around - two Serenas.

Q. Would you still be involved in tennis then, and what about the movies?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, definitely. Hopefully by then I would have really made my mark in the movies as well, I would say about -- I don't know how many films. Do a few different comedies, few different scary films or whatever. I think it would be fun. And what I made my mark in? In the movies I think I would have been successful as well, too, hopefully. I'd still only be 32, so it's kind of hard.

Q. You said the other day your best attribute as an actress was your scream. No offense whatsoever, but has your tennis career helped you a little bit with that?>

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm real dramatic, as well. I just have a good scream, but I'm also really funny and have a great personality on the camera and also have a really good laugh. At any given moment, I can just laugh. It doesn't matter. So it's really brought on.

I think tennis has helped me because I do scream a lot on the court, too.

Q. The scream was better than the punch you threw in "Street Time" to knock that girl out?>

SERENA WILLIAMS: The punch was terrible. Actually had to do a couple takes because my first punch was literally like this (motioning). I've never been in a fight before, so...

But after a while, they took me aside and was like, "Serena, you got to punch." So the scream's definitely better.

Q. Did you notice any difference in the atmosphere out there today? >

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was more fun and more live and more real, and I really liked that. I remember one year, maybe 2001 I want to say, I had to play on the Monday after Wimbledon was over, because we had to play doubles. One of the worst -- I was so stressed, I was really ready to go. But it was the same atmosphere there. It was just like a younger crowd, the people were really real and they were really just out there screaming and enjoying the tennis. I really, really liked that atmosphere.

Q. Tim just said that he thought People's Sunday should perhaps be institutionalized. Would you like to see that here and also have a reduced-cost day at the US Open to bring in fresh fans, so to speak?

SERENA WILLIAMS: What do you mean "institutionalised"?

Q. That it would occur each year.

SERENA WILLIAMS: No one plays on Sunday.

Q. There would be a Sunday.

SERENA WILLIAMS: People could get in?

Q. Yes.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I really kind of like -- one thing about Wimbledon what makes it special is you know every Sunday you're not going to play and you can just relax on that day and. Yeah, I kind of appreciate that.

I think there should be more people allowed to get tickets. I don't quite understand the whole ticket situation here.

Q. Have you noticed any change in Jennifer Capriati this year, just in the way she's playing the game or...?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she's really excited about life. I think she's really happy to be doing so well in here career still. I just always see her really more optimistic about things.

Q. When you came back in March, did you expect that it would take you, say, three months to feel this physically good as you're feeling this week? Or did you think, "I'm feeling pretty good in practice, been running a bit, I should be able to pick up where I left off"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, definitely thought the latter. I was feeling pretty good in practice, you know, pick up where I left off. But at the same time I think kind of inside I kind of knew that it would be a little more difficult than just picking it up.

Q. With the knee, was it more just having confidence running, or was there a legitimate soreness over the last couple months?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it was a little of both. Legitimate soreness and confidence running, you know. It was like, "Okay, I'm not gonna go as fast as I can, I'll just go a little slower. I'll take off a little slower, then I'll pick it up." So that definitely was a major factor.

Q. How hard is it for you, I mean, do you have to force yourself to go to the net because of the way you grew up in the game? I mean, you and Venus both volley so well. Doubles comes very easily to you all. Do you have to force yourself to go to the net or...?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just am a baseliner, I guess. And my idols were Navratilova and John McEnroe, when my idols really should have been someone like Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert.

I don't necessarily have to force myself to go to the net. I just find myself enjoying -- I mean, I love playing on the baseline, that I have to find myself, "Okay, it's all right, Serena, you can play at the net, too." It's more of a love I have. I become one with the baseline.

Q. Did you see comments made by Navratilova in a column yesterday saying you should concentrate more on your tennis rather than outside interests? Because they come from her, would you take more notice of them?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, sure. (Note it/noted?)

Q. Did you see it in The Guardian, what she was saying?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Excuse me?

Q. Did you read the paper?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I don't read the papers. I just look at the pictures.

Q. Really, are you doing anything more that you didn't do the last two or three years when you won this tournament twice in a row and won the US Open?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm not eating as much candy as I used to. I've been really good this past week and a half, two weeks. I've like had close to no chocolate, no sugar. So, yeah, I'm doing much better. I'm in much better shape, too.

Q. In terms of outside interests, really, when you were winning this Grand Slam the last two years, and the US Open, did you have as many outside interests then as you do now?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I did, but I was afraid to act on them. And I was afraid that, you know, if I act on them, then will I be successful, what will other people perceive it to be.

But then once I got over that fear and I realized, "This is only so long. I don't want to be, you know, 32 and not know exactly what's gonna happen in my future. I want to already have my future planned out." It was a real fear.

I think a lot of people, they actually have a fear of doing other things because of what people might say or what people would perceive them to be.

Honestly, I could get in a car accident today and never play tennis again, and then I wouldn't have anything to fall back on. But fortunately enough, I do. And so whether I did it a year ago... I've done more.

But it's like once I'm at a tournament, it's all about tennis. Like I'll sit down and I'll sketch, but sketching is totally different from whatever. I'll sit down, I'll read a script. It's just like me reading a book. That's the only difference. When I'm at Wimbledon, I'm 100 percent focused on Wimbledon.

Q. The bottom line is, would you agree that you can have these outside interests and it doesn't affect your tennis?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I would agree 100 percent, because you can't allow something to serve as a hindrance to you.

Q. Does it annoy you when you hear people saying, "The Williams dynasty is in decline," or, "They don't have the aura of domination they've had in the past"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I've never really heard that either. Nothing really bothers me, to be honest with you.

Q. Did you ever really believe that there was a dynasty, or did you pretty much figure that tennis has its ebbs and flows and, "Venus and I will play great for a few years, other people will come in, we'll come back again, get to the top"? Did you have the expectation you could, both of you combined, dominate for a decade?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think that we are still, you know, trying to reach the top level of our game. And I think -- I never really thought about us dominating for a period of time. I just always see me playing tournament at a time and seeing myself winning each tournament that I'm at. So I guess that is dominance, but I don't know.

Q. How long do you see yourself still playing tennis?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I see myself playing for a number of years - not as long as Ms. Navratilova but, you know...

I definitely see myself playing for a long time.

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post #15 of 63 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 2004, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Serena Williams using Olympics to get back on track
AFP
Friday, August 06, 2004



PARIS (AFP) - Serena Williams says she is now taking her game more seriously after flirting with a career in fashion and the idea of breaking into Hollywood.

Williams had eight months out of the game with a knee injury after winning her second Wimbledon title and sixth Grand Slam title in 2003 and worryingly for her hopes of taking Olympic gold in August she injured the same knee in San Diego earlier this week.

This year has not been too kind to her either as she was beaten by fellow American Jennifer Capriati in this year's French Open before being sensationally trounced by 17-year-old Russian Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon final.

But she says she has now got her priorities sorted out.
"I am determined to put all of my energy into tennis. I used to take things for granted before but now I hate to lose," she says.

It was at Wimbledon a year ago that her reign at the top of the game came to an abrupt end when she picked up a knee injury in the final.

Victory over elder sister Venus had given her a remarkable fourth Grand Slam triumph in five attempts before injury struck.

But she says watching the tape of the Sharapova defeat has made her hungry again.

"I didn't do anything I was planning on doing or had done in previous matches. I put so much pressure on myself. I couldn't relax before the match - I'm a perfectionist."

Williams blames prolonged recovery from knee surgery and the murder of her half-sister, Yetunde, last year for draining her concentration.

"No one realises what I went through on and off the court," she says.

She hopes an Olympic gold medal will help get her back on track before the US Open in September.

And she is not yet ready to step away from the game.
"I'm nowhere finished with making history," she says.
She has not, however, abandoned hope of becoming a screen celebrity.

"There are few athletes who can make the transition from sports to acting," she says.

"I don't want to pontificate but I'm also in that group. I haven't seen many athletes who could be Oscar-winning actors."
Women's tennis has not been the same since the Williams sisters broke through.

Venus seem destined to rule but she has long ago been overtaken by Serena, 23 in September.

"My sister and I changed the game, we brought in a new crowd, like Tiger Woods in golf," says Serena.

She played her first professional match in 1995 at 14 and made her tour debut in 1997 when in her second tournament in Chicago she beat former French and Australian Open champion Mary Pierce and former world No 1 Monica Seles.

In 1998, she won the mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon and US Open with Max Mirnyi, completing a Williams family mixed doubles Grand Slam, as sister Venus won the Australian Open and Roland Garros titles.

She finished 1999 at number 4 in only her third full season, becoming the first black woman since Althea Gibson won the last of her five Grand Slam titles at the 1958 US Championships when she triumphed at Flushing Meadow.

Only Venus appeared capable of stopping her by 2003, but in June that year the first cracks began to show when she lost to tiny Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne in a three-set Roland Garros semi-final which ended her Slam streak at 33 matches.

Although she went on to defend her Wimbledon crown by beating Venus in the final she has struggled to make her mind up about where her career lies since her knee operation.

So a little of the Olympic aura might convince her she still has a role to play in sport.

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