Olympics-Mauresmo sees gold as route to grand slam glory Sat August 14, 2004 08:17 AM ET
By Bill Barclay
ATHENS, Aug 14 (Reuters) - France's Amelie Mauresmo believes the Olympics could be the key to her breaking her grand slam duck at the U.S. Open after the Games.
Mauresmo, the world number two, is the best player on the women's tennis tour never to have won one of the four grand slams and has a history of her nerves failing her on the big occasion.
"It would be magic. Anything can happen in 2004 and the Olympics could be the catalyst for a lot of things," the 25-year-old Mauresmo told reporters on Saturday, the day before the start of the tennis event in the Greek capital.
The U.S. Open, the final grand slam of the year, starts on August 30, a week after the end of the tennis tournament in Athens.
But Mauresmo believes a gold medal would have an even bigger impact back home than a grand slam title.
"Winning a grand slam goes down in the history of tennis," she said. "But winning an Olympic gold medal goes down in the history of sport itself.
"I was brought up in the culture of sport in general, not just tennis.
"I think the impact would be bigger for a Olympic gold medal than winning a grand slam in France. People can relate to gold medals more."
With top seed and world number one Justine Henin-Hardenne struggling for fitness, Mauresmo is probably the favourite for the gold, although she says she does not feel any special pressure.
"I can only take it match by match, especially with these (hot) conditions," she said. "The pressure doesn't come from being number one, two, three or four. All the matches are difficult these days. "I want to just go match by match and stay in the tournament. After that I'll be able to look at the other players and see how they are doing and how Justine is, as at the moment the level of her game and her form are unknown."
No doubt the gold medal is MoMo's for the taking. She has a tough first round against Conchita Martinez, who's well past her prime but can still pose a threat. None the less, I foresee nothing but the gold medal placed around Amelie's neck. How sweet is that! Nice pics too! She is definitely a hottie!