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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Williams replaces her sister, winner of last three Classics

By Jerry Magee

July 20, 2003

Serena Williams, never a singles participant at the La Costa Resort & Spa, has entered the Acura Classic beginning there July 26 as a replacement for sister Venus, winner of the last three renewals of the tennis tournament.

Venus has withdrawn because of the abdominal injury she aggravated while engaging Serena in the Wimbledon final.

Serena, ranked No. 1 among women players and the champion in five of the last six Grand Slam events and six in all, has appeared at La Costa only once – in 1999, when she limited her participation to partnering with Venus in doubles.

Said Raquel Giscafre of Promotion Sports Inc., which offers the La Costa event: "While we'll certainly miss Venus, who would have been going for a record fourth straight victory, we're thrilled that Serena will be coming to La Costa. She's had an incredible run over the past year and perhaps she'll keep the Acura Classic trophy in the family."

Serena is scheduled to compete this week at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Following the Acura Classic, she said she intends to participate in the JP Morgan Chase Open, beginning Aug. 3 at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Acting interests Serena, and she said that since Wimbledon she has been dabbling in it. "Some stuff," she said, "but I've been practicing a lot. Mostly, I'm just trying to concentrate on tennis."

She prefers not to address what her tennis legacy will be. "I'm just trying to play," she said. "So many people have done more. I think I'm a little too young to think of a legacy. I would just like to leave the game knowing I had done the best I could."

At La Costa, Serena is to be opposed by a field that includes No. 2 ranked Kim Clijsters and No. 3 ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne, plus such others as Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Chanda Rubin, Conchita Martinez, Amanda Coetzer, Elena Dementieva and Jelena Dokic.

Dokic was a La Costa finalist a year ago. Venus defeated her 6-2, 6-2.

Anna Kournikova has been a La Costa semifinalist in two of the last three years, but a WTA Tour spokesman said the Russian woman has withdrawn from all events through the U.S. Open because of a back problem.

15,444 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Injured Venus Pulls Out of California Tournaments
Mon July 21, 2003 05:30 PM ET
PALO ALTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Venus Williams has pulled out of forthcoming tournaments in San Diego and Los Angeles due an abdominal injury that she re-aggravated at Wimbledon, WTA Tour officials said Monday.
The fourth-ranked Williams -- who lost in the Wimbledon final to her sister, Serena -- first sustained an abdominal tear when playing a tournament in Warsaw in April.

Venus is the defending champion in San Diego, which begins July 28. Serena, who pulled out of this week's tournament in Palo Alto with a knee injury, will replace her in the San Diego draw.

Serena and Venus were both scheduled to play Los Angeles, which begins on Aug. 4.

Venus Williams has yet to make a decision as to whether she will play the tournament in Toronto the following week

15,444 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Women's Look Forward: San Diego, Sopot
by Bob Larson.

Last week, the WTA announced that San Diego was being upgraded to a Tier I (meaning that the WTA now has more Tier I events than the ATP has Masters Series). This week, we get to see why.

There are several Tier II events which average stronger than the Tier I tournaments: Sydney, Filderstadt, Philadelphia (at least in its former existence). But no Tier II tournament has been as strong, year-in and year-out, as San Diego.

This year is no exception. Seven of the top ten are here; the only absentees are Venus Williams (the defending champion, but she swapped with Serena, and is probably too injured to play anyway), Amelie Mauresmo (who plays a limited hardcourt schedule to preserve her back), and Anastasia Myskina (playing at Sopot). We have fifteen of the Top 20. Even though San Diego is a 48-draw (16 seeds, all of whom receive byes), and there are only four qualifiers, there are only five players below #50 who received direct entry, and we were supposed to have a Top 50 player (Cara Black) in qualifying (though she ended up in the Stanford doubles final). Even with sixteen seeds, players like Eleni Daniilidou, Nathalie Dechy, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova, Lisa Raymond, Magui Serna, and Alexandra Stevenson (all of them Top 30; Daniilidou, Dechy, and Petrova are Top 25) are unseeded. A very strong case could be made that winning San Diego is the single toughest physical feat on the WTA -- since the player who wins it must win five matches in no more than six days, with quite possibly all of them being against Top 30 players.

That's what #1 seed Serena Williams faces, for instance. After her bye, she will almost certainly face #29 Svetlana Kuznetsova (who opens against a wildcard). Then she would face #16 seed Elena Bovina -- or, if Bovina falls, then Tamarine Tanasugarn. Then #5 Jennifer Capriati. Then, theoretically, #3 Justine Henin-Hardenne, who is making her first summer hardcourt appearance. And then #2 seed Kim Clijsters. Even Serena can't be looking forward to that draw.

The truth is, the #1 seeding did Serena (who pulled out of Stanford last week with knee pain) no favors. Hers is surely the toughest quarter, with Capriati, Magdalena Maleeva, and Bovina as the other seeds. Though #2 seed Kim Clijsters doesn't have it too much better; she'll probably have to face Dechy (who opens against Virginia Ruano Pascual) in the second round. But after that, it's slumping Meghann Shaughnessy, then doubles partner Ai Sugiyama, then limping Lindsay Davenport.

#3 seed Justine Henin-Hardenne isn't nearly the hardcourt player that Serena or Clijsters is, but her quarter isn't nearly the hardcourt quarter, either. She'll open against probably Eleni Daniilidou (the other possibility is Rita Grande), but Daniilidou, like Henin-Hardenne a one-hander, isn't overly fond of hardcourts either. (For that matter, that exact description fits Grande too. This might almost be the one-hander's ghetto.) Then comes #13 seed Elena Dementieva, who has been up and down since winning Amelia Island, then theoretically #7 Daniela Hantuchova, who has been just plain down; we'd expect someone else (maybe Petrova) to come through there. After that, whoever reaches the semifinal can expect to be flattened by Serena.

#4 seed Davenport is likely to start with the last thing she wants: Another very solid hardcourt player, Amy Frazier. Then Silvia Farina Elia, who beat her at Eastbourne (though Farina Elia is just off surgery, and the hardcourt surface helps Davenport anyway). Then comes Chanda Rubin, who right now seems to be in better shape than Davenport. And then Clijsters, who has owned Davenport lately.

Despite everything, it looks likes a Serena/Clijsters final if Serena is healthy and Clijsters isn't too tired after Stanford. But there will be quite a few fine matches first. Let's look down the list:

First Round:

Molik vs. Haynes (WC). Chances are that Molik will make mincemeat of the young American. But Molik is no great fan of hardcourts, and Haynes put on a very nice show at Stanford last week. And Molik's best weapon is her serve, and watching Haynes in Challengers, it looked like it was her best weapon, too.

Grande vs. Daniilidou. A one-hander with touch vs. a one-hander with power. Neither likes the surface much. Who will elevate her game?

Petrova vs. Mikaelian. Two solid players who are getting to the age where it's time to really put up.

Serna vs. Granville. Upset artist who prefers traditional surfaces against a mildly slumping hardcourt player.

Krasnoroutskaya vs. Stevenson. Stevenson is ranked higher, but the surface definitely favors Krasnoroutskaya, and Stevenson isn't playing that well right now anyway.

Schett vs. Raymond. Raymond is playing better, and ranked higher, but the surface speed is probably more to Schett's liking.

Second Round:

(1) S. Williams vs. Kuznetsova. If Serena really is hurting, this could be trouble. Kuznetsova is thinking about a spot in the Top 25. A win would probably do it.

Tanasugarn vs. (16) Bovina. If the court is fast, this could be very interesting.

Likhovtseva vs. (5) Capriati. Likhovtseva is at her worst ranking in years -- but her history is one of good spells and bad spells. She's due for a good spell, though beating Capriati is an awfully tough way to have to start.

(3) Henin-Hardenne vs. Daniilidou. Two of the best one-handers on the tour do battle on their second-worst surface.

Schiavone vs. (13) Dementieva. The surface favors Dementieva. But Schiavone seems to be playing at her best right at the moment.

(12) Coetzer vs. Petrova. Can Coetzer fend off Petrova's much greater power?

Cho vs. (7) Hantuchova. Given how messed up Hantuchova is right now, the hardcourt-loving Cho might well give her big trouble.

Serna or Granville vs. (9) Dokic. Dokic is another player who is struggling badly; this too has real upset potential. Though Dokic seems to lose only to non-Top 50 players these days, and Serna and Granville are well above that level.

Krasnoroutskaya or Stevenson vs. (15) Farina Elia. If the Italian is healthy, she can drive either of her opponents to errors by her steadiness. But this will be her first match after wrist surgery.

Frazier vs. (4) Davenport. Davenport's the better player, but Frazier is healthy and they both love this surface.

(8) Sugiyama vs. Raymond (or Schett). Raymond and Sugiyama are fairly close in absolute ability, but Raymond's game is tuned for faster surfaces. On hardcourts, the edge is to Sugiyama -- but not by much.

Pierce (WC) vs. (11) Martinez. Pierce is finally looking alive again. But so is Martinez.

Dechy vs. (2) Clijsters. Clijsters should win, but Dechy is rested....

Round of Sixteen:

(1) S. Williams vs. (16) Bovina. Bovina has been struggling in the aftermath of injury, but she seemed to pick herself up a bit at Fed Cup. And she has the power to play with Serena. On a really good day, it might be interesting.

(10) Maleeva vs. (5) Capriati. Normally a big edge to Capriati. But she'll be a bit tired.

(3) Henin-Hardenne vs. (13) Dementieva. The hardcourt may be an equalizer here. Maybe.

(12) Coetzer vs. (7) Hantuchova. No bets on this coming off. If it does, it will be very hard to predict.

(13) Farina Elia vs. (4) Davenport. Davenport looks to avenge Eastbourne.

All that strength at San Diego doesn't leave much for Sopot. It is, naturally, the place of clay fanatics; there isn't a single North American in the draw (man or woman). Almost the only players in the field who don't specialize in clay are the Russians: #1 seed Anastasia Myskina (who may be here in obedience to the Gold Exempt rules, but who also will doubtless appreciate that chance to pick up points against a fairly weak field) and defending champion Dinara Safina.

There are some pretty good players here, though; in addition to Myskina, the #2 seed is Patty Schnyder. Anna Pistolesi, still looking to recover her form of last year, is #3; Denisa Chladkova, who once again is looking for a Top 30 spot, is #4; Iroda Tulyaganova, who is again playing fairly well, is #5; spinmaster Maja Matevzic is #6; Safina is #7; and tough clay expert Petra Mandula is #8. A number of solid clay players are unseeded: Karolina Sprem, with two clay finals around Roland Garros; the rising Italian star Flavia Pennetta; last year's Roland Garros semifinalist Clarisa Fernandez; solid young Myriam Casanova, who seemed to snap out of her **** at Fed Cup; Anabel Medina Garrigues, who still hasn't recovered her pre-injury form but is getting closer; and past champion Henrieta Nagyova.

Interesting first round matches include Casanova against her countrywoman Emmanuelle Gagliardi; Pennetta against Fernandez in a matchup of players who just missed seeding; and Nagyova versus Pistolesi. Still better awaits in the second round: Medina Garrigues vs. Mandula; Tulyaganova vs. Casanova or Gagliardi; Safina against Pennetta or Fernandez; Sprem vs. Nagyova or Pistolesi. There will be no shortage or reasons to watch.

The Rankings. It's all wild and crazy this week. The #3 ranking is set. Except for that, all is chaos.

This statement requires some caution. There is a theoretical chance that Kim Clijsters can pass Serena Williams. In practice, it's not likely. Clijsters, since she has so many points in her seventeenth tournament, would have to win San Diego, and Serena lose fairly early, and even then, Clijsters needs good quality points. But this is a bonus Tier II, and the quality points are there. It might happen. (But don't bet on it.)

As mentioned above, Justine Henin-Hardenne is safe at #3. Not so Venus Williams at #4. She leads Lindsay Davenport by 396 points -- but has 389 points to defend. Davenport has 145 points to defend. If Davenport reaches the final, she will take over the #4 ranking. She might even do it by reaching the semifinal, if she gets the right quality points.

Jennifer Capriati is very close to taking the #6 ranking, though it looks like she'll have to reach the semifinal (i.e. beat Serena) to do it. That would drop Amelie Mauresmo to #7. Chanda Rubin could perhaps grab the #7 ranking, but only if Capriati loses early. Daniela Hantuchova can only move above her current #9 if she wins and Rubin loses fairly early; the odds seem slight. Myskina could easily bump Hantuchova down to #10, though the Russian has no chance of overtaking Rubin. There is a chance that Ai Sugiyama could hit the Top Ten, but only if she can beat Kim Clijsters.

The finalist last year was Jelena Dokic. Given her current form, but she and her ranking are in trouble. She could possibly fall out of the Top 15 if she loses early and several lower-ranked players do well. It seems nearly certain that she will lose her #12 ranking.

Anna Kournikova is also going to suffer; she has 153 points to defend, which means she'll be falling well below #100.

15,444 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
She won't think about it, but historians already celebrating her career
By Jerry Magee
July 28 2003
San Diego Union Tribune

CARLSBAD – How she is to be remembered is not something Serena Williams prefers to address. She is, after all, just 21.

"I think I'm a little too young to think of a legacy," Williams said recently when invited to assess what place in women's tennis she expects history will assign her. "So many people have done more. I'd just like to leave the game knowing I had done the best I could."

Williams' reluctance to engage in self-analysis aside, tennis historians believe they one day will be celebrating the deeds of the woman who heads the field in the Acura Classic, beginning today at the La Costa Resort and Spa. One of these scholars is Ken Yellis, director of the museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, R.I.

To Yellis, Williams has done what an athlete must in order to achieve greatness: She has redefined her game.

"Her ability to hit out on every shot is really pretty unusual," Yellis said. "Her opponents get no rest. She constantly is going for winners and constantly getting them."

Defensively, too, Williams has rare abilities, in Yellis' thinking. They relate to her athleticism. As swift as she is, she is able to reach shots that her peers could not "and to do something with her returns," he said.

She also can adjust. "If she is a little off, she can find ways to beat you," Yellis said. He cited Williams' match against Kim Clijsters (another La Costa participant) in the final of this year's Australian Open. "For all intents, (Williams) was beaten," he said, "yet she won."

Clijsters had created what against another player would have represented a commanding advantage, 5-1 in the final set, but Williams was able to rally for a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 triumph.

Williams, in sum, has everything necessary to place her name alongside those of such other greats as Suzanne Lenglen, Helen Wills Moody, Maureen Connolly Brinker, Alice Marble, Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Monica Seles and Steffi Graf. To be recognized fully, in Yellis' judgment, Williams needs just one more thing – a rival.

"What makes a great rivalry is not just players with different styles but players with different temperaments," Yellis said.

One thinks of John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, McEnroe so bombastic and Borg so icily composed. Technically, as Yellis views it, the player best equipped to enter into such a rivalry with Williams is her sister Venus, whom she has outplayed in the final of the past five of her six Grand Slam conquests. (She defeated Martina Hingis in her first).

"Venus' wingspan, for one thing," Yellis said. "Venus (who has won the Acura the last three years) has terrific hands, great reach and she is more comfortable at the net than Serena. Venus has tools. But Serena has a much better second serve. And Venus has to figure out a way to beat her."

There is this that could limit Serena's future: She is not the most active of the women professionals. When she takes breaks, her fitness level appears to drop off.

"I definitely would have her doing fitness things between tournaments," said Larry Willens, the coach for former San Diego State star Alex Waske, "but if she keeps going the way she is, she is going to be regarded as one of the best players of all time. She does things no one else has ever done."

With her six Grand Slam successes, Williams still is well behind some of the women who preceded her. Court between 1960 and '75 captured 24 major singles championships. Navratilova between 1974 and '93 won 18, including Wimbledon nine times. Moody between 1922 and '38 took 19, and never played in the Australian Open. Graf between 1987 and '99 took 22.

At 21 – she will be 22 in September – Williams has a lot of time in which to match or exceed those figures.

Herself excepted, Williams was asked whom she would consider the next great player. "I haven't even thought about it," she said.

15,444 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Serena Withdraws From Acura Classic

Photo By Susan Mullane By Brad Falkner

Serena Williams' Acura Classic experience was over before it began. The top-ranked Williams withdrew from the Acura Classic tonight citing tendinitis in her left knee — the same injury that forced her to withdraw from the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last week.

The six-time Grand Slam champion has not played a match since beating older sister Venus to successfully defend her Wimbledon title. The fourth-ranked Venus withdrew from the tournament last week due to the abdominal strain she aggravated in the Wimbledon semifinals.

Serena visited a Los Angeles doctor today before deciding to withdraw.

Lucky loser Meilen Tu replaces Williams in the draw.

15,444 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
July 28, 2003

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) -- Serena Williams withdrew from the $1 million Acura Classic on Monday night because of a left quadriceps strain.

Williams, the world's No. 1 ranked player and winner of five of the past six Grand Slam titles, pulled out of the tournament because the injury was causing her considerable pain in her left knee, WTA Tour spokesman Darrell Fry said.

The injury was originally believed to be tendinitis.

Williams would've been the top draw for the event that includes seven of the top 10 ranked women. She canceled an afternoon interview session because she was seeing a doctor in the Los Angeles area.

The injury also forced Williams to withdraw before the start of last week's Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. She has not played since her three-set win over sister, Venus, at Wimbledon in July.

Venus, the fourth-ranked player, previously pulled out of this tournament because of a stomach injury.
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