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Discussion Starter #1
Women's Look Forward: Charleston, Estoril

Look fast. You may not see it again for a while. Serena and Venus Williams are in the same draw at a tournament, and it's not a Slam, and it's not Miami. It's Charleston.

Of course, that assumes that Serena -- who mentioned a bum knee at Amelia Island, and who has already played two events back-to-back -- plays. And that Venus plays. And that everyone else plays. It's quite a collection of walking wounded, this field. Justine Henin-Hardenne clearly ran out of steam at Amelia Island -- though that was illness, not injury, so she may be able to play. But Elena Dementieva was definitely hurt. Jennifer Capriati wasn't right at Miami. We've heard that Lisa Raymond -- who is about as indestructible as Mount Everest -- has been out due to some sort of problem.

Assuming they all turn out, though, it's quite a field. Kim Clijsters is still missing, and so is Anastasia Myskina, but the only other Top Ten player absent is Ai Sugiyama. Henin-Hardenne is of course the #1 seed. Serena, due to her special ranking, is #2. Amelie Mauresmo is #3, and this time (in a nice balance) she's in Serena's half rather than Henin-Hardenne's. Venus Williams, due to her special ranking, is #4 -- but in a bit of poetic justice, she's in the same quarter as Lindsay Davenport, who would have been the #4 seed except for Venus's special ranking. Elena Dementieva, bad shoulder and hip and all, is #6. Jennifer Capriati takes the #7 seed. Nadia Petrova, now at a career high, is #8.

All those special rankings leave Vera Zvonareva just short. As she falls short of a Top Ten ranking, she also ends up short of a Top Eight seed; she's seeded #9, and will once again be hoping to hit the Top Ten. Chanda Rubin is still missing, making Paula Suarez the #10 seed. Then comes a big rankings gap: Svetlana Kuznetsova and Silvia Farina Elia aren't playing, and Venus Williams was promoted up the list, so Patty Schnyder is #11, Jelena Dokic #12, followed by Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi at #13, Fabiola Zuluaga at #14, Nathalie Dechy #15, and Conchita Martinez #16. That means Charleston, just like Amelia Island, has 16 of the Top 25.

Plus quite a few solid unseeded players: Lisa Raymond, Karolina Sprem, Lina Krasnoroutskaya, Amy Frazier, Mary Pierce, Meghann Shaughnessy, Anne Kremer, Eleni Daniilidou. Given that this is clay, Daniilidou, Sprem, and Pierce are probably the biggest threats in that list.

The wildcards are an odd bunch. One of them, as expected, is Martina Navratilova. She's lucky; she qualifies for a new status known as Gold Exempt Emeritus, which allows her unlimited wildcards. The others are a bit more surprising. Kelly McCain is a young American; she probably needs every wildcard she can get. But a wildcard for Alexandra Stevenson? We understand why the tournament offered it; the part that doesn't make sense is that Stevenson took it. She isn't Gold Exempt; she doesn't get unlimited wildcards. And clay is her worst surface; she's almost certain to lose first round, and she uses up a wildcard she could otherwise have used at a tournament where it might have helped her.

The other wildcard is surprising for another reason: For the second straight week, Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian has been granted direct entry into a green clay event. Her chances are better than Stevenson's, but it's a curious choice.

Looking at the early rounds, we observe some matches we're rather not see (e.g. Stevenson versus Nicole Pratt in the first round), but also some very high-quality stuff. Karolina Sprem is now the #2 unseeded player in the field, and she has been playing better than her ranking, and she likes clay, and she opens against #15 seed Dechy. Ashley Harkleroad had her first big success here a year ago, but has been struggling lately, and she has to face Petra Mandula, who seems finally to be back on track and who loves clay. Martina Navratilova opens against Amy Frazier in a contest of players more comfortable on other surfaces. Marlene Weingartner, who is in quite a **** but who likes to pull off upsets on clay, would face #11 seed Schnyder. Meghann Shaughnessy, who is back in her slump mode, will have to deal with the steady Japanese player Shinobu Asagoe. #10 seed Suarez will face Anne Kremer, who was Top 25 herself before being hurt.

The second round has its share of tough matches, too. #1 seed Henin-Hardenne will have to play Jelena Kostanic, who has been at her very best lately. Kostanic can't threaten the Belgian if Henin-Hardenne is 100% -- but is she 100%? The Sprem/Dechy winner will face Lisa Raymond, the top unseeded player (though the surface is not at all to Raymond's liking). #12 seed Dokic will have to face either Harkleroad or Mandula -- and Mandula already had a win over Dokic this year, and the clay can only help Mandula. Venus Williams will likely face Eleni Daniilidou -- and Daniilidou likes clay a lot. And #8 seed Petrova will face either Mary Pierce or Akiko Morigami.

Against a field like that, it's obvious that Estoril will be rather weak. Not surprisingly, most of the players who played Amelia Island played Charleston, while most of those who played Casablanca crossed the Pillars to play at Estoril. But there are several additions at the top of the field. Elena Bovina is making her long-awaited return. Alicia Molik, just in from playing the Amelia Island doubles final, will be the #2 seed. Casablanca champion Emilie Loit is seeded #3, though the points from the title in Morocco make her the #2 player in the field. #4 seed Denisa Chladkova and #5 Barbara Schett took last week off; #6 Iveta Benesova, #7 Katarina Srebotnik, and #8 Marion Bartoli all played Casablanca.

There are a couple of interesting unseeded names. Iva Majoli is here on a wildcard, and Henrieta Nagyova will once again be trying to get her game back in gear. The most noteworthy name missing is last year's champion Magui Serna.

First round matches of note include #1 seed Bovina against Majoli in a contest of players who can't seem to get healthy; #2 seed Molik, who is sure to be tired, against Nagyova; #7 seed Srebotnik, trying to find her game after a long layoff, against Casablanca semifinalist Rita Grande; #3 seed Loit against Els Callens; Flavia Pennetta against another player coming back from injury, Asa Svensson; and #8 seed Bartoli trying to spring back from three straight losses and an injury. In the second round, the Bovina/Majoli winner will take on Casablanca quarterfinalist Marta Marrero or else Virag Nemeth, who beat Majoli (and Sandrine Testud) at the Ortisei Challenger earlier this year. We could also see a rematch of the Casablanca final as Loit takes on Ludmila Cervanova, unseeded here though she was the #4 seed at Casablanca.

The Rankings Although we're playing Charleston and Estoril this week, the events coming off are Amelia Island and Budapest. That's distinctly bad news for Elena Dementieva, last year's Amelia Island champion, who finds herself behind Nadia Petrova and Serena Williams in safe points and roughly tied with Jennifer Capriati. That will produce a logjam in the #6-#9 range.

Things are quieter at the top. Justine Henin-Hardenne of course remains #1, and Kim Clijsters #2. Amelie Mauresmo is safe, barely, at #3; #4 Lindsay Davenport has finalist points coming off, so she can't quite make it higher this week. And with Dementieva falling, we know that Anastasia Myskina will be safe at #5 even though she isn't playing.

As we already mentioned, Vera Zvonareva is trying one more time to hit the Top Ten. She probably needs a semifinal. Venus Williams could hit the Top 15 with a semifinal. At least three players -- Dechy, Martinez, and Zuluaga -- have shots at the Top 20; Eleni Daniilidou could easily return to the Top 25. Magui Serna, though, will be falling out of the Top 30; her points from Estoril 2003 are already off, and this week she'll lose points from Budapest 2003 also.

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #3

Charleston, SC: During the All-Access Hour, Serena fields questions from a group of journalists

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)


She was born in Michigan, grew up in California, and lives in Florida. But during Monday night's Miss USA pageant, Serena Williams was rooting hard for Miss New Jersey, Janaye Ingram, who wore a dress designed by the world's ninth-ranked tennis player.

"I was talking to her agent today, and I was a little nervous," Williams said Monday. "I wanted her to wear a long gown that I had made, and she wanted to wear a short dress that I had made. I said OK, I'd prefer if you wore the gown. But if you must, wear the short one."

The dress is part of Williams' clothing line, called Aneres -- her first name, spelled backward.

"We're opening our offices, getting a lot of employees," she said. "It's going great. We're having conversations every day about it. I'm drawing, making dresses for me all the time. Every dress I make for someone else, I put it aside, because I like it. It's like I can't get ahead making dresses for other people, because I end up taking them all."


-- A half-inch of rain fell on the tennis center early Monday morning, forcing officials to delay the start of play for an hour. There's a 60 percent chance of rain today, mostly in the morning. According to the National Weather Service, there's no more than a 20 percent chance of rain the rest of the week. Temperatures for Sunday's final could reach 80.

-- Attendance for Monday, the first day of the main draw, was 6,732, brining total event attendance so far to 16,320.

-- The tournament will host two free autograph sessions today, with the times and players available at stadium court or guest services.

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Davenport 'amazed' by the stacked field at FCC

Of The Post and Courier Staff

When Serena Williams walked into a hospitality tent behind the stadium court at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Monday, she was greeted by hugs and kisses from Lindsay Davenport.

The sight of the world's No. 9 and No. 4 players together was a reminder that the stars of women's tennis have gathered in one place infrequently this year. That will change this week at the Family Circle Cup, as six of the world's top 10 and 11 of the top 20 are on Daniel Island, including No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne and first-namers such as Venus and Serena and Jennifer.

"I was amazed when I saw the field for this tournament," Davenport said. "There have been so few tournaments that have actually had all the top players together this year. I was like, 'Wow, are all these players going to show up?' "

Of all the players in the field, only Henin-Hardenne can claim a better year than Davenport -- and it was Davenport, not the world No. 1, who won on clay last week at Amelia Island, beating third-ranked Amelie Mauresmo in the final to claim her second singles title this year.

"I'm still a little bit stunned by it," the 27-year-old Davenport said. "It was a tough field there, too. By the end of the week, I felt like I was starting to get clay-court tennis down. And then I won a big title on my least favorite surface."

Only three women -- Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Martina Hingis -- have won more career prize money than Davenport, who has more than $17 million and three Grand Slam singles titles to her credit.

But the last two years have been painful ones for the affable California native, who was ranked No. 1 in the world as recently as January 2002 and was voted the most friendly and approachable player on tour by tennis journalists in 2000.

Knee surgery kept her off the tour for seven months in 2002. She came back and made the semifinals at the Family Circle Cup last year, her best showing in the tournament. But a week later, she began feeling the effects of Morton's neuroma in her left foot. She tried to play on it, but eventually required surgery in October 2003.

"It was such a tough summer," she said. "Every time I put my tennis shoe on, it just killed me. After the surgery, I was fully prepared to do the rehab, which took eight weeks. Then, in December, it was like, you have to step on the court now, or it's not going to happen. But once I got out there and my foot felt so much better, it was a lot easier to practice and train."

Davenport, married almost a year ago to Jon Leach, cites Henin-Hardenne -- the only player to defeat Davenport this year -- as her inspiration for redoubling her efforts toward physical conditioning and quickness on court. That's why she feels she's in better shape to win this week than last year, when she lost to Serena Williams in the semifinals.

"No question, I am definitely in better shape. I'm playing great tennis so far this year, but it only takes that one day for you not to be at your best and lose," she said. "But I feel like I have given myself an excellent chance to do well this week and in the other weeks I am competing."

Davenport does not hesitate to call clay her least favorite surface, and the French Open is the one Grand Slam title that has eluded her. Perhaps last week's victory and a good week on clay at the Family Circle Cup can propel her toward that career Slam.

"When I'm practicing, I don't think, 'Oh, the French Open, the French Open,' " Davenport said with a laugh. "I would love to win any of them again. That's why I've been putting in this hard work -- to win another Grand

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Family Circle scores huge draw with Williams sisters

Of The Post and Courier Staff

Somebody at the Metro Charleston Chamber of Commerce needs to put Serena Williams on the payroll. After all, it was her description of the Family Circle Cup's relatively new home that helped Charleston pull off one of the biggest coups in women's tennis -- having both Williams sisters, the leading draws in the sport, playing in the same tournament.

Outside of the four Grand Slams, seeing Serena and Venus Williams in the same draw is about as rare as finding a bad seat at Family Circle Stadium. The Tier I event at Key Biscayne, Fla., is the only other tournament in which the sisters each play regularly. Two hospitable solo trips to Daniel Island were enough to convince Serena that big sis should come along this year.

"I told her that I enjoyed it here and I loved it here and that she should come," Serena said. "There are so many people that cheer for us here, a lot of great fans. I told her she would really enjoy it."

Added Venus: "I've never been to the event, so I just had to come. I'd heard so much about it, how nice it is, with the new facilities and the new stadium. It's really beautiful."

The Family Circle Cup finds both Williams sisters trying to return to top form after injury-plagued 2003 seasons. Venus missed four months with an abdominal injury, and fell out of the top 10 for the first time in five years. She comes to Charleston ranked 16th and seeded fourth, and yet to advance beyond the quarterfinals in four events this year.

Serena entered last year's Family Circle as the undisputed No. 1 player in the world, with 21 straight match wins and four consecutive Grand Slam titles behind her. On Aug. 1, she had surgery to repair a partially torn quadriceps tendon in her left knee, which kept her sidelined until last month.

Serena won her first tournament back, a Key Biscayne event missing the current world No. 1, defending Family Circle champ Justine Henin-Hardenne. Last week at Amelia Island, Fla., she suffered a straight-set quarterfinal loss to Nadia Petrova in a match during which she was clearly bothered by soreness in the same left knee she had surgery on last year.

Withdrawing from the Family Circle, she said, was not a consideration.

"Physically, I feel like I can run a marathon right now. It's some different moves and different types of things that your knee just has to get used to, especially, I think, switching from hard court to clay. All the sliding might have taken a small toll on the leg," said Serena, ranked No. 9 and seeded second this week.

"Personally, I feel I would like to play a lot better. I feel there's so much more I can do. In practice, I'm continuously angry at myself if it's not going the way I think it should go. I'm insatiable, it seems. I feel that I'm only at a two of a 10 of reaching where I need to be to be at my level."

The loss at Amelia Island was Serena's first since June. She'll surely be tested during the Family Circle, an event featuring one of the strongest fields this season, with eight of the top 13 players in attendance. It was nine before Amelie Mauresmo withdrew Sunday with a back injury.

"The tournament definitely deserves it, I believe," said No. 5 seed Lindsay Davenport. "When the draw came out, I was like, 'My gosh, are all these players going to show?' It's refreshing to see all of them here. It's unfortunate yesterday with Amelie. But in any tournament where you get Venus and Serena competing, as well as Justine No. 1, that's a huge coup for everybody."

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Sister show is Cup's biggest hit

What a contrast in this week's Lowcountry mega-events: Fans of The Hunley, a Confederate submarine, are taking part in a crew burial celebration some people might consider at least a little divisive; Venus and Serena Williams at the Family Circle Cup are uniting South Carolinians like few athletes who have performed in our state.
It was Kid's Day on Daniel Island, and everywhere else Venus and Serena went Monday.

Kids who showed up at the tennis center got free candy, shampoo and sunscreen and a chance to watch seeded players such as Conchita Martinez in match action. The real treat was a chance to catch some of a Venus-Serena practice session that lasted for more than two hours on Court G.

"Kids of all colors and all races and all sizes and all ages are watching and they're really excited," Serena said. "To me, it makes a big difference."


Later Monday, the two most prominent and dynamic players in tennis spread out for maximum impact.

Serena went to Charleston's City Gym for a Tennis in the City youth program. Venus was at Mount Pleasant's Towne Centre for the Family Circle Cup Fan Fest.

"Oh, my gosh, it's so rewarding," Venus said of the adulation from children.

"At times you can't believe that these kids are really so interested in what you do as a profession. That part makes it so amazing."

Serena, 22, owns six Grand Slam singles titles. Venus, 23, has four Grand Slam singles titles. Together, they have won six Grand Slam doubles titles.

No wonder there was a bigger crowd for the Williams family practice session than for any of Monday's matches. In hushed tones, whispers buzzed from little mouths with each grunt-filled volley.

Donations of time and money prove the appreciation is mutual.

"It's very important for me. Especially in this state in particular, I've always wanted to do something," Serena said.

"Tennis has opened up a lot of doors for me. If we can get some other kids in it and get them started, you would be surprised at the different levels of life it leads to. It opens so many doors."


Venus is appearing at the Family Circle Cup for the first time. Serena is here for the third April in a row, despite pressure from the NAACP and its objection to the placement of the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of the Statehouse in Columbia -- "Something I'm not comfortable with," Serena said.

We're lucky to have Serena and Venus playing on the green clay of Daniel Island. Aside from the Nasdaq-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., this is a rare non-Grand Slam event appearance by both sisters.

They are so popular fans Monday were asking to pose for pictures with their father, Richard Williams.

People were lining up to pet Serena's dog, a Jack Russell terrier named Jackie.

It all makes for a nice contrast.

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Venus enjoying life out of spotlight

The State
Staff Writer

CHARLESTON — Earlier this year, Richard Williams suggested one of his daughters ought to consider retiring from tennis.

For the record, neither Serena nor Venus Williams has any idea what their dad is talking about. Both are in the field at this week’s Family Circle Cup. It’s a rare circumstance that finds the two

sisters in the same non-Grand Slam field.

That said, Venus Williams’ absence from the court until last month’s Nasdaq-100 Open was noticeable.

In fact, the 23-year-old seems to have slipped into the large shadow cast by her younger sister during a lengthy, injury-imposed exile. But there’s something else at work, something other than injuries, playing a larger role in her fade from public view.

Serena Williams makes television appearances and designs clothes in her time away from the court. When Venus aggravated an abdominal muscle injury during last year’s Wimbledon final against Serena, she missed the remainder of the season and withdrew.

With days no longer centered around tennis, she reveled in life’s smaller details. She dove into her poetry and concentrated on guitar lessons. She took delight in the most mundane tasks, such as getting the mail.

She played in five tournaments in the past year, dropping her from the top five in the WTA rankings to No. 17 overall. It’s her lowest ranking since her first full year on the tour in 1997.

If there was ever a time to quietly step away from the game, that time would appear to have been 2004.

Yet ...

“I just love playing, love competing, whether it’s as a top-ranked player or a lower-ranked player,” she said. “I still love being out there.”

Her most recent comeback began in earnest at last month’s Nasdaq-100 Open. She reached the quarterfinals before losing to fifth-ranked Elena Dementieva.

“It was a good tournament for me. I got to play a lot of matches,” she said. “I had a bad match toward the end, but that was fine because I still did well in the tournament.”

That rather simple statement sums up Venus Williams’ approach to life. She makes a point of looking at the silver linings, rather than the gray clouds.

“I try to find the positive in things,” she said. “I’m not really looking at the disadvantages this year with my injuries.”

While another player would be concerned about slipping out of the top 10, Venus delights in the fact she is still in the top 20.

“Really, think about it. How often do you have only five tournaments and are still in the top 20?” she said. “I played about five events, won one, and three were finals. That’s good, I think.”

It would appear that retirement truly isn’t on her calendar.

“I’m just about doing my personal best,” she said. “If I get to a point where I can’t do that, then that’s when I will need to let it go.”

Those guitar lessons will just have to wait.

Reach Obley at (803) 771-8473 or [email protected].


• What: Family Circle Cup

• Where: Family Circle Tennis Center at Daniel Island, Charleston

• Prize money: $1.3 million; $189,000 for singles winner; $57,000 for doubles winners, $29,000 for finalists

• Draw: 56 singles, 28 doubles pairs

• 2003 winners: Justin Henin-Hardenne (singles); Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez (doubles).

• Television: Thursday-Friday: 2-3:30 p.m. on ESPN; Saturday: 2-4 p.m. on ESPN2; Sunday 1-3 p.m. on ESPN2

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Venus Williams gets early test from Reeves

Of The Post and Courier Staff
If Venus Williams happens to win this Family Circle Cup, she will owe a debt of gratitude to the tournament for making Samantha Reeves a lucky loser in qualifying.

Not that Reeves gave Williams anything. Quite the contrary.

Reeves pushed the former world No. 1 every step of the way. In the process, Reeves upped Venus' chances of winning this tournament considerably. Venus is not only ready, she's steaming hot.

In the first set of her 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory, Venus looked like a player coming off injury and making the transition to clay surface. But what a transition she made the last two sets. Her serve was vintage Venus, accurate and overpowering, and she drilled brilliantly strong service returns and groundstrokes from both sides.

In short, Venus' performance was awesome. With Justine Henin-Hardenne's withdrawal from the tournament, Venus might actually have a cakewalk to the final.


-- Martina Navratilova had her chances to push Amy Frazier to the limit, or maybe even win. But Martina's physical skills at age 47 aren't what they used to be. She served poorly and wasn't patient enough to wait for good opportunities to approach the net.

-- Jelena Dokic can hit some of the prettiest tennis shots you'd ever want to see, hard and penetratingly deep forehands and backhands. That's when she is on, such as the first set in her 6-0, 5-7, 7-5 victory over Tatiana Panova. But she may revert back to set No. 2 proficiency the next time she plays. Dokic has the game to become an elite player; she just needs to find the right temperament in her game to reach that level.

-- Poor young Ashley Harkleroad. Where did all of her fire go? She was only a shadow of her 2003 self in a 49-minute, 6-3, 6-1 loss to Petra Mandula. Harkleroad's strongest shots were blanks as she appeared unmotivated and totally flat.

-- Serena Williams performed about the way she was expected to against a totally outclassed 176th-ranked wild-card entry named Kelly McCain. It was no match. Serena hit the corners and McCain wasn't prepared for a night in the stadium.


-- Nadia Petrova is worth showing up at the stadium at 10 a.m. to watch against Akiko Morigami. This should be a walkover for the tournament's eighth seed.

-- Take a good look at the athletic Russian Elena Dementieva in the second match today in the stadium. She's a player who on a good serving day can beat anyone, but even her weak second serve should be enough to handle Anabel Medina Garrigues. The problem for Dementieva is that she is in the loaded bottom half of the draw that includes Petrova, Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams.

-- It will be interesting to watch Jennifer Capriati in the third match on the stadium against Lina Krasnoroutskaya to see how she has recovered from injury and a loss of confidence. Capriati will have to prove that she is back from that devastating loss to Henin-Hardenne in the U.S. Open.

-- Davenport's precise groundstrokes and big service game should be too much for Jelena Jankovic in the 7 o'clock night opener.

-- The best match of the day might be the nightcap between Amy Frazier and left-handed top-spinner Patty Schnyder. Frazier handled Navratilova's left-handed serves and strokes well, but Schnyder puts an entirely different spin on the ball.


A player to watch in the bottom half of the draw is Petrova. The talented Russian is in the same quarter of the draw as Serena Williams, a player Petrova yielded only five games to in last week's quarterfinals at Amelia Island, Fla.

Petrova easily could spoil things for Serena again, if Serena survives Conchita Martinez in the third round.

Petrova then could challenge Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals. Petrova appeared to have Davenport beaten in the Amelia Island semifinals before losing in three sets.

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Struggling Venus gets past Reeves
Of The Post and Courier Staff

Venus Williams started slowly and struggled in her Family Circle Cup debut, but found success in the end to defeat Samantha Reeves 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 Tuesday at Stadium Court.

"Definitely a slow start," said Williams, the No. 4 seed in the tournament. "I had a good service game to start out with, but I've been trying some new things in practice and I was trying to take them out to the match. I just started missing big time and then I started to get fairly disgusted. But I just didn't want to stop trying my new techniques and my new strategies, so I did keep going throughout the match and it just got better and better."

Williams didn't reveal her new techniques and strategies, saying, "I can't share that with you because it's supposed to give me an edge with the rest of the players. I started to play better, but I started to rush a little bit. I think if I would have just calmed down, just hit the shot, I just feel that I could have been more superior today."

Reeves was just 2-8 this season going into the match against Williams. But she broke Williams' serve in the third and fifth games of the first set en route to a 5-1 lead. She won the first set and led 3-0 in the second set, and that's when Williams came to life.

"Gosh, a lot of adrenaline was going through my body," said Reeves, who reached the main draw as a lucky loser. "I had a lot of goose bumps, and the whole time I felt I needed to go for my serve, go for my shots and take it to her. I had nothing to lose. I felt like I had to attack her first and get her off her 1-2 punch. If I did that, I had a chance.

"I was up 5-1, and trying not to think about it," Reeves said. "I'm up 5-1 against one of the world's greatest players, so I told myself to go for it so I don't have any regrets."

Williams was one of seven seeded players who played Tuesday. Also advancing were No. 2 seed Serena Williams, No. 9 Vera Zvonareva, No. 10 Paola Suarez, No. 12 Jelena Dokic and No. 13 Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi. No. 17 Elene Daniilidou was ousted by qualifier Catalina Castano.

In one of the day's more anticipated matches, Martina Navratilova played in a Family Circle Cup singles match for the first time since 1994. But Amy Frazier was up to the challenge and sent the legend to a 6-4, 6-4 defeat on Stadium Court. In another Stadium Court match, Petra Mandula defeated Ashley Harkleroad 6-3, 6-1.

Venus Williams said she'll have to play better if she's going to go deep into the tournament.

"I think that the depth (in tennis) has definitely raised a lot within even just the last six months," she said. "I also know if I don't go out there and play my best and play well, I won't see the next day in a draw."

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Henin-Hardenne pulls out, Williams sisters advance
April 14, 2004

CHARLESTON, United States (AFP) - Top seed and world number one Justine Henin-Hardenne pulled out of the 1.3 million dollar WTA Family Circle Cup and Venus Williams almost joined her.

Fourth seed American Williams needed three sets to stop unheralded Samantha Reeves 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Her sister Serena had an easier time as the second seed advanced on Tuesday with a straight set victory.

There was a sense of anticipation at this claycourt tournmaent as Henin-Hardenne was entered in the same event as the Williams sisters for the first time this year.

But Henin-Hardenne, the defending champion, withdrew with low blood sugar causing lightheadedness and will return to her home in Belgium for tests. She said she has been experiencing symptoms for two weeks.

"I have felt bad for two weeks now and thats enough," Henin-Hardenne said. "I will now go back home and do everything I have to do in order to get better."

Her battle with Reeves shows Venus is still struggling to regain her form.

Her 2003 season ended in July due to a pulled stomach muscle and she has not won a title in 14 months.

In her debut at Charleston, Venus improved to 8-3 in five events this year.

Serena also returned recently from a long layoff but has been somewhat better.

Playing in her third tournament after missing eight months with a knee injury, the Serena beat American wild card Kelly McCain, 6-1, 6-0 on Tuesday.

Serena won the NASDAQ-100 Open in Miami in her return two weeks ago. But she lost in the quarter-finals last week at the Bausch and Lomb Championships.

Martina Navratilova was again foiled in her bid for her first US singles victory in 10 years, losing 6-4, 6-4 to fellow American Amy Frazier on Tuesday.

The former world number one lost last week in her first US singles match in a decade, making a brief comeback to help her doubles game as she and partner Lisa Raymond prepare for Fed Cup matches and bid for an Athens Olympic berth.

Navratilova plans to continue her comeback in June on grass at Eastbourne, England, where she made a singles comeback two years ago.

In other results, Serbian Jelena Dokic beat Russia's Tatiana Panova 6-0, 5-7, 7-5, Australia's Nicole Pratt defeated American Alexandra Stevenson 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) and Japan's Akiko Morigami ousted France's Mary Pierce 6-2, 6-3. American Meghann Shaughnessy also withdrew and her spot in the draw will be taken by a player from the qualifying round. Shaughnessy has a right ankle sprain, suffered during her doubles title win last week at Amelia Island, Florida.

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Discussion Starter #15

Venus Williams defeated Samantha Reeves 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 during her second round of the Family Circle Cup

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Discussion Starter #16



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Discussion Starter #17
Serena, left, and Venus Williams autograph memorabilia at the Family Circle Cup on Monday

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Happening On the Court

Update: Serena Williams officially withdrew from the 2004 Family Circle Cup due to a knee injury isssue. More info to come.



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Discussion Starter #19
Thursday, April 15, 2004

Serena says sore knee needs rest
Serena says sore knee needs rest

Associated Press
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Serena Williams withdrew from the Family Circle Cup on Thursday, saying her left knee is sore from practicing and playing too much.

The announcement comes a day after Williams pulled out of the U.S. Fed Cup team's first-round match at Slovenia.

Williams returned to the tour last month after an eight-month injury absence. She had left knee surgery in August.

The six-time Grand Slam titlist said she decided Thursday morning to drop out of the clay-court tournament in Charleston. She withdrew about 1½ hours before she was scheduled to play Conchita Martinez.

Williams said she has been pushing too hard in recent weeks.

"It's kind of like I'm playing every day. In order to prepare for Miami I was practicing weeks and weeks and weeks in advance," she said.

She beat Kelly McCain 6-1, 6-0 Tuesday in the second round.

15,624 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
With knee getting sore, Serena decides it's time to rest

April 15, 2004 wire reports
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Serena Williams' comeback was cut short.

Advertisement;h=v2|30ef|0|0|%2a|q;7802504;0-0;0;8049059;4307-300|250;4975708|4993604|1;u=PtuxOQooBLgAADmsZ9Q;%3fhttp:// The six-time major champion withdrew from the Family Circle Cup on Thursday, saying her left knee is sore from practicing and playing too much after returning from an eight-month absence.

The announcement comes a day after Williams pulled out of the U.S. Fed Cup team's first-round match at Slovenia and raises questions about Williams' fitness with the French Open less than six weeks away.

She had knee surgery Aug. 1, then missed the U.S. Open and Australian Open, returning to the tour just last month.

"The official diagnosis by the doctor was that he was shocked I was playing this many tournaments in the beginning," Williams said.

"He said normally when you're coming back from a procedure like me, you should play one week and then maybe take a week or two weeks off."

Williams won the first tournament of her return, at Key Biscayne, Fla. She played the next week at Amelia Island, Fla., losing in the quarterfinals, and then came to this clay-court tournament.

"She's playing it a little safe, but I think she tried to bite off too much to begin with. She was trying to play five weeks in a row," ESPN analyst and former player Pam Shriver said. "That's a lot when you haven't played in eight months and you have a surgically repaired left knee."

Williams beat Kelly McCain 6-1, 6-0 Tuesday in the second round here. But the reigning Wimbledon champ withdrew about 1½ hours before she was scheduled to play Conchita Martinez on Thursday, saying she has been pushing too hard in recent weeks.

"It's kind of like I'm playing every day. In order to prepare for Miami I was practicing weeks and weeks and weeks in advance," she said.

Williams said she should have stopped playing after last week's tournament in Florida, "but I was too excited by the fact I was coming back" to Charleston, where she was a finalist last year.

Williams said she has not had her knee tested recently.

"I feel confident that it's fine when the doctor was checking it out. The surgery site is 100 percent, and it's another part of the area of the knee that is kind of just compensating for the surgery site and it was, again, too many tournaments in a row," she said.

She said that sliding on the clay "was giving my leg a lot of problems."

But Williams said she plans to play in a French Open tuneup in Rome next month and said her rehabilitation would consist of running and strength work for her legs.

"It's unfortunate. But I thought she was playing an awful lot of tennis the first time back after being out seven or eight months," said Lindsay Davenport, who won Thursday to reach the quarterfinals. "On top of that, playing so many matches in Miami and winning a tournament and then switching surfaces. That kind of may be a recipe for possible disaster."

"There's no way a surgically repaired knee can hold up with a lot of matches, changing of surfaces and just keep going on it," added Davenport, who missed most of the 2002 season after knee surgery. "I was actually surprised she came here."

Williams planned to stay in Charleston through the weekend.

Venus Williams, a four-time Grand Slam tournament champion, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian Thursday evening.

She said her sister's knee problem is really the result of "an ambitious schedule" that her sister committed to before this year.

"Coming from surgery -- even just coming from being off -- if you try to play that much your body just says 'No,"' Venus Williams said. "It happened to me just this year also. My body said 'No, Venus."'

Venus Williams also missed part of last season and the start of this season with a strained stomach muscle.

"Everyone feels a certain degree of uncertainty with the Williams sisters as to when they are going to get over their injuries," Shriver said.

The Associated Press News Service
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