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PARIS (AP) -- Richard Williams, the outspoken father of dominant tennis stars Serena and Venus, says he wants them to take a break from competitive tennis because no one can match them. "I would like them to stop playing today, for Serena to study and for Venus to launch herself into business," Richard Williams was quoted as saying in an interview published Saturday in French sports daily L'Equipe's magazine. The 61-year-old says he is unimpressed with the level of competition on the women's circuit and in the junior ranks, and he believes his daughters could take time out and still easily top the world rankings if they returned.

"If I was in their place, I would take a break for one or two years," he added. "I would do some sailing, some ice skating, and I would come back unranked, just so I could become No. 1 within five or six months."

World No. 1 Serena Williams has won the last four major tournaments: the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open last year, and the Australian Open in January. She will start heavy favorite at the French Open, which begins May 26.

The 21-year-old has lost only two matches -- against Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters -- since November last year.

Venus Williams, the World No. 3, won her fourth career Grand Slam at Wimbledon two years ago. The 22-year-old will play Sunday in the final of the US$700,000 J&S Cup in Warsaw, Poland.

Their father believes racism is rife in women's tennis, and within the sport's governing body, the Women's Tennis Association.

"I asked the WTA: 'Does racism still exist with you?'," he said in the interview, which was translated into French. "They told me no. They're taking me for an idiot."

"Then in desperation they call me mad, they make cutting remarks like 'Don't you think those Williams sisters are arrogant? They're too physically strong not to have taken doping products.' " Williams, who taught his daughters tennis at an early age, says they were targeted by racism two years ago at the Indian Wells tournament in California.

"The rich white racists decided to take a firm position," he said. "They whistled and booed my daughters. They insulted me until I left the court."

Williams feels racism in America is "perhaps even worse today," and thus says he will never salute the American flag.

"It has no meaning for me," Williams said.

He added that he and several others are working toward an officially recognized "day of saying sorry" in America -- where white people would acknowledge the prejudice shown toward blacks and apologize for it.
 
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