Tennis Forum banner

1 - 1 of 1 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
20,942 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Article: "Princess" Sharapova Hope To End Williams Family Reign At Wimbledon

Updated: 03:32 PM EDT
'New princess' hopes to end Williams reign at Wimbledon
By STEVEN WINE, AP SPORTS

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) - The shout came from the cheap seats on Centre Court, if there is such a thing.
"Come on, Serena!" a fan hollered.

Quick as an ace was the response from another section.

"Come on, Venus!"

The crowd attending the Wimbledon semifinals laughed. Venus Williams was long gone, a second-round loser last week. In a breach with recent tradition, Serena Williams' opponent in the final Saturday will instead be tennis' newest star, 17-year-old Maria Sharapova.

Venus Williams played in the past four finals, winning the title in 2000 and 2001, then losing to her kid sister in 2002 and 2003. Now Sharapova will attempt to end the family's four-year reign.

Born in Siberia and trained in Florida, she's the third-youngest female finalist at the sport's oldest event. Martina Hingis won the title in 1997 at 16, and Lottie Dod was the champion in 1887 at 15.

"I've just been enjoying the moment," the No. 13-seeded Sharapova said Friday. "Every time I think about it that I'm in the final, it's an amazing feeling, like it gives me goose bumps."

Don't expect her to be unnerved by the occasion. Sharapova kept her Siberian cool this week to beat top-15 players Ai Sugiyama and Lindsay Davenport on Centre Court, each time after losing the first set.

"I think that's one of my strengths - that I fight, and I really want to win," she said. "I was never that kind of person that I wanted to practice and get myself better. I just wanted to compete and I wanted to play against girls, boys, whatever, older, younger. And I wanted to win."

Sharapova, under contract since 2002 with a modeling agency, gives the final a distinctly different look. While Williams returns, bidding to become the first woman to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles since Steffi Graf in 1991-93, her sister will be home in Florida.

Over the past five years, Venus Williams won 26 consecutive Wimbledon matches against opponents outside her family before losing in the second round to Karolina Sprem.

"I definitely wish she was here, and I definitely wish that I'd be ready to fight her in the final," Serena said. "I would be extremely, extremely nervous because she was playing so well."

Instead, Serena can be nervous about facing an upset-minded youngster whose flair has enchanted fans, photographers and London headline writers who trumpeted her success in Friday's papers:

"The sensation from Siberia."

"Sharapova the new princess."

"From Russia .. we love."

Williams knows all about teenage upstarts. She won the first of her six major titles at 17 by beating Hingis at the 1999 U.S. Open.

"When you're younger, you have nothing to lose," said Williams, now 22. "It's like you can just go for broke."

The only previous meeting between the finalists came at Miami in March, with Williams winning 6-4, 6-3. The victory came in her third match following an eight-month layoff after knee surgery.

"She's a better player than she was in Miami," Williams said. "But I'm a much better player than I was in Miami, too."

Since winning Wimbledon a year ago, Williams has endured the shooting death of her half-sister, the long layoff and a comeback slowed by setbacks, notably her defeat in the French Open quarterfinals. Even if she wins Saturday, she's projected to slip next week to 12th in the rankings, a five-year low.

Sharapova, projected to climb to a career-best eighth if she wins, is part of an increasing Russian presence on the WTA Tour. At the French Open last month, Anastasia Myskina became the first Russian woman to win a Grand Slam title, and now Sharapova will try to make it two in a row.

"There are like 50 players from Russia in the top 10," said Williams, joking. "Every week you have to play an 'ova."

Another 'ova, Olga Morozova, was the last Russian woman to reach the Wimbledon final. Chris Evert beat her for the title 30 years ago this coming Monday.

Much more than national pride is at stake for Sharapova. But win or lose, she'll make a breakthrough Saturday just by stepping on Centre Court.

"I don't think she's really aware it's the Wimbledon final," Boris Becker said. "She's probably aware that it's a big tournament and can affect her ranking and her image, but I don't think she's aware how much Wimbledon can change her life."

The last 17-year-old to win the tournament? Becker - in 1985.



07/02/04 15:30 EDT

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.
 
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
Top