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Look out: Venus could rise again to the top
By Dave George
Palm Beach Post Columnist
Friday, April 20, 2007
DELRAY BEACH — Don't forget about Venus.
It has happened before, you know, particularly at times like this, when Venus Williams' sparkling sister Serena is on a major roll.

U.S. Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison, who happily has both Williamses on board for this weekend's quarterfinal match against Belgium, is a good source here. You might even call her a seer.
"We were right here at Delray Beach for a Fed Cup match a couple of years ago and I was telling Venus to hang in there because she wasn't getting great results," Garrison said. "After watching her play for a few days, I said, 'Hey, girl, this summer is yours.' I just had a feeling that she was going to do something amazing."
The power to amaze is a rare gift in a tennis player. It's more than winning a Grand Slam title or two. More, even, than steadily climbing the rankings ladder to No. 1 in the world. So many others have hit those heights and faded fairly rapidly from the headlines.
Venus does vanish from sight every now and then, nursing an injury or training in private at the sisters' Palm Beach Gardens home or chasing some other interest, but she never really fades. Take that surprising summer of 2005, predicted by Garrison but by all logical measures a long shot.
All Venus did was win Wimbledon as a No. 14 seed, the lowest in tournament history for an eventual champion. The epic final lasted 2 hours , 45 minutes, with Venus fighting off a match point and outlasting Lindsay Davenport 9-7 in the third set.
Almost immediately, in celebration of her first Grand Slam title in nearly four years, Venus sent Garrison this simple message: "Z, I did it."
The message here is that she could do it again, matching all the family high points from two years ago when, just like 2007, Serena opened the season with an Australian Open title.
"I'm definitely capable of those things," said Venus, "especially coming back from injury. I think I've done a really good job of that. I'm proud of myself, and I'm proud of Serena."
Encouraging signs
The two of them refuse to feed the endless and shallow assumptions of sibling rivalry. Following a Fed Cup news conference on Wednesday, reporters waited quietly while Serena and Venus leaned side-by-side against a wall, laughing gloriously at some inside joke, arms around each other's waists. Eventually, reluctantly, they separated to field questions in smaller groups on different sides of the room.
Not reluctant to give answers on their individual careers, mind you, but seemingly reluctant to separate.
This is a truly fascinating pair, lifetime practice partners and frequent opponents in a career series that is tied 7-7.
Venus, 26, was the trailblazer a decade ago, reaching the final in her first U.S. Open appearance as an unseeded teenager. Serena, 25, has come on strongest in recent years, stopping Venus five times in the final of a Grand Slam event, including three times in 2002 alone, at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Overall, Serena has eight Grand Slam victories and Venus has five.
Where exactly is Venus' game today? There are encouraging signs, like a February tournament title at a Tier III warm-up event in Memphis and a march to the final of last week's Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., where Jelena Jankovic had to go to a third-set tiebreaker to shake Venus off.
There are signs of rust, too. Take last month's Sony Ericsson Open on Key Biscayne. Venus battled top-seed Maria Sharapova hard in the third round but made too many errors, losing the third set 7-5. In the next round, Serena took care of business, mopping the floor with Sharapova in less than an hour, 6-1, 6-1.
That's the difference between Grand Slam fitness and something just short, a gap that Venus will continue working to close with her two Fed Cup singles matches here.
Popping in and out on the WTA tour, neither Williams has played enough tournaments to earn a top-10 ranking. Venus, who has climbed back to No. 22, devotes a lot of time to her interior design business, V Starr Interiors, with offices in Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter. Even at tournaments, she trades e-mails with her staff on jobs in progress.
"I love design," she said. "I gravitate toward the arts. Dance, fashion, music, the spoken word."
Old goals back in play
Perhaps being well-rounded, and well-rested, has helped Venus guard against going unstrung after 10 years on tour. Many top players burn out in less time, rarely taking a break.
Kim Clijsters, 23, is on her farewell tour now. She isn't on Belgium's Fed Cup roster, concentrating instead on healing some injuries and finalizing wedding plans.
"Kim's probably seen a lot more than I have," Venus said. "I haven't seen nearly enough yet. I'm ready."
She has mastered the discipline of returning from a long layoff, saying "it's experience, it's ability and it's hard work." Then, once the comeback is on, and that's exactly what we're witnessing now, all the old championship goals are in play.
"The hardest part for me is I hate losing," Venus said. "The hardest part is not winning every match."
Amazing, all right. She still sees herself holding every trophy, or at least the ones she cares to have.
She still dares us to forget about Venus, knowing the good things that always follow.
Fed Cup quarterfinals
United States vs. Belgium,
2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Delray Beach Tennis Center
TV
The Tennis Channel
Format
A best-of-five-matches competition in singles and doubles. Matchups and schedule of play will be determined today.
Outlook
With the Williams sisters headlining, the U.S. team will be heavily favored to defeat Belgium, which knocked off the Americans in last year's semifinals. This time Belgium plays without Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.
What's next
The winner will meet either Russia or Spain in a July semifinal.
Tickets
Two-day passes are $35-$225. Single-day passes are $10-$125. Call (888) 334-USTA (8782) or go online to www.ticketmaster.com.
DIRECTIONS
Take Interstate 95 to the Atlantic Avenue exit. Head east on Atlantic and follow signs to parking.United States
Serena Williams: The former world No. 1 is 6-0 in Fed Cup matches (including singles and doubles), but this will be her first participation in the event since 2003. She is ranked No. 12 in the world and says a strained groin muscle is OK.
Venus Williams: She is 10-2 in singles in Fed Cup play and 3-1 in doubles. Despite layoffs with a wrist injury, the former No. 1 has climbed back to No. 22 by posting a 14-3 record in 2007. Like Serena, she will play singles.
Lisa Raymond: This former Florida Gator will play doubles - and why not, since she is the world's No. 1 doubles player. Raymond holds a 9-3 record in Fed Cup doubles play, along with a 3-6 mark in singles.
Vania King: The young Californian stands at No. 27 in the doubles rankings and will pair with Raymond. King, 18, was part of the doubles duo that handed the Belgians their only loss in a 4-1 semifinal triumph against the United States last year. She is 1-2 overall in Fed Cup.
Belgium
Kirsten Flipkens: The 21-year-old has become the leading player on a team without Justine Henin or Kim Clijsters. Ranked No. 132 in singles, she is 3-10 in Fed Cup play, although she helped Belgium turn back a less imposing U.S. team last year.
Caroline Maes: At 24, Maes has posted a 1-4 record in Fed Cup matches. She ranks 227th in the world in singles and 209th in doubles. Her lone victory in the Fed Cup was in doubles. She is slated for singles this time.
Yanina Wickmayer: At age 17, she is No. 216 in the world doubles rankings. She is expected to play doubles, and if so, this will mark her first action in Fed Cup. She ranks No. 422 in singles.
Tamaryn Hendler: Still wearing braces, Hendler is a 14-year-old whom the Belgians want to prepare for international competition. She stands at No. 22 in the ITF junior rankings. If she plays, it likely will be in doubles with Wickmayer.
- Charles Elmore
 

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Replace COULD with WILL
 

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Go Venus :) :cool:
 

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great article and I'm preduicting another amazing Wimbledon for Venus.
 

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Go Vee and Rena :D
 

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what a great article! however, i think zina is wrong. serena is going to storm through wimbledon.
 

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I hope so.
 

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Since 2001 she has not been the top player in the world. She will definetly win more grand slams, but i really doubt she will ever dominate tennis again like 2000-2001 and even more doubt that she will win the French Open someday. She better think about the Australian Open first than Roland Garros. Still we´ll see.
 

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Wimbledon 07 will be very interesting........unlike last year.
 

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Im thinking Venus might win wimbledon this year.. she will be match fit, ready to win and looking for another big win.. and the fact that she is playing her fave tournament and where she is biggest threat means she could b in lethal form
 
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