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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sidelined Serena Deserves Respect


By Karen Crouse, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 3, 2003



Being No. 1 for 56 consecutive weeks should mean having to defend lots of points, but never your honor.

But this is Serena Williams we're talking about, and so it was inevitable when she withdrew from two tournaments in California last month, citing knee and quadriceps injuries, that the backlash would be so brutal, we're frankly surprised she didn't require additional treatment for whiplash.

On Friday night, word came down that Williams had undergone knee surgery and will miss the U.S. Open, where she is the reigning champion.

There you have it. We hope all the people who took shots at the Palm Beach Gardens resident for missing tournaments at Stanford and LaCosta but making the ESPY Awards and her Hollywood auditions are satisfied.

Williams wasn't acting. She really was hurt. Why does her doctor have to reveal a tear in the mid-portion of the quadriceps tendon before people give Williams a break?

People are funny. Pete Sampras was criticized during the six years he spent at No. 1 for being so focused on tennis that he was boring. Williams gets grief for having outside interests that take her mind off tennis for a few hours a week. You could tear more than a tendon in your knee, trying to cover the court of public expectations.

It wasn't as if this was an injury that materialized out of nowhere. Williams didn't suffer it kicking the backside of meddlesome ESPY Awards emcee Jamie Foxx, though nobody would have blamed her if she had after he made several references to Williams' coupling with Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Keyshawn Johnson.

As was reported in this space, Williams' knee was hurting before she opened defense of her Wimbledon title. She didn't breathe a word about the injury to us. That's no more her style than turtlenecks. She swallowed anti-inflammatory pills and soldiered on.

Her father, Richard, was the one who mentioned it. Serena didn't summon an excuse, much less a trainer. After defeating sister Venus in the Wimbledon final, Serena talked about the toughness displayed by Venus, who fought for three sets despite a flare-up of an abdominal strain injury.

Obviously, veins of steel run in the family. Serena is tough enough to take quite a lot. The pity is some people continue to test how much she can endure by questioning everything from her commitment to tennis to her choice of tennis outfits to her competitiveness when opposing Venus.

The people who can't sit back and appreciate the Williamses' grace and power and panache, who persist in nitpicking every little thing they do or don't do, should know they're revealing much more about themselves than they are the sisters.

Williams has to play through so much jealousy and intolerance every week, it's hard to imagine the pain of rehabilitating her knee posing much of an obstacle. It's just another thing that's uncomfortable that Williams will have to overcome.

The guess here is Williams won't be watching too many reruns of The Golden Girls in the next two months. She'll be otherwise occupied proving herself to be as resourceful and resilient as her favorite cartoon character, SpongeBob Square Pants.

It would surprise us if Williams doesn't return to the tour with a vengeance. The only thing she hates more than losing is letting her detractors win.

Williams will be missed at the U.S. Open. For anybody to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. Would a Lakers vs. Nets matchup in the NBA Finals be as interesting if Shaquille O'Neal couldn't play?

Flushing Meadow without Serena will be like the Bob Hope Classic without Bob Hope. She is a natural entertainer who makes tennis infinitely more enjoyable for the masses. Arthur Ashe Stadium is the ideal stage for Serena, who can project her personality so even the spectators in the cheap seats feel its heat.

The U.S. Open women's race has opened like an unlocked treasure chest, that much is true. It may be more competitive with the most dominant player sidelined. However, more competitive should not be confused with more compelling.

Serena and Venus remain one of the marquee stories in sports. They are the best things to happen to tennis since Bud Collins. Serena shouldn't have to leave the tour, if only for six to eight weeks, before people can appreciate that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Defending U.S. Open champ sidelined 6-8 weeks

August 03, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Williams had knee surgery Friday and will be out six to eight weeks, leaving her unable to defend her U.S. Open title later this month in New York.

The world's top-ranked player underwent surgery to repair a partial tear in the mid-portion of the quadriceps tendon of her left knee at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles.

The surgery was done by Dr. Rodney Gabriel on an outpatient basis.

Williams was resting at home in Los Angeles, her spokeswoman said. Her father, Richard, and other family members were with her.

"Serena has suffered from quadriceps tendinitis of her left knee for many years, which has been controlled with medication and physical therapy treatments," Gabriel said.

"She recently developed pain that, although improved with treatment, increased whenever she resumed tennis activities."

On Monday, Williams underwent an MRI, which showed a partial tear in the tendon, and surgery was recommended, Gabriel said.

"I expect a 100 percent recovery and Serena's speedy return to competitive tennis," he said.

There was no comment from Williams in statements from her representative or the WTA Tour.

She had withdrawn from three California tournaments in the last three weeks because of the knee problem. She was scheduled to play last week at Stanford, this week in Carlsbad and next week in Carson.

She hasn't played since beating older sister Venus in the Wimbledon final nearly a month ago.

In January, Williams won the Australian Open. She has five titles in her last six Grand Slam tournaments. She defeated Venus in last year's U.S. Open final.

Williams, 21, is losing out on a chance to win $1 million in prize money by missing the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 25.

The amount missed could increase to $2 million if she is unable to play in the season-ending WTA Championships in November in Los Angeles.

The winner of each tournament receives $1 million.

Her absence also could affect the rankings. Kim Clijsters, who has reached the semifinals in Carlsbad, is just 264 points behind Williams in the rankings.

The Belgian could be in position to take over as No. 1 during next week's tournament in Carson.

Venus, ranked fourth in the world, also hasn't played since Wimbledon, because of a nagging abdominal injury. So far, she has withdrawn from Fed Cup and the Acura Classic in Carlsbad. She was not planning to play next week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Knee Surgery Knocks Serena Out Of U.S. Open


Photo By Susan Mullane By Tennis Week
08/02/2003

Surgery has knocked defending champion Serena Williams out of the U.S. Open. The top-ranked Williams underwent successful surgery in Los Angeles today for a partial tear in the mid-portion of her quadriceps tendon of her left knee.


Recovery will require six to eight weeks, which will prevent the two-time U.S. Open champion from defending her title when the season's final Grand Slam begins on August 25th in Flushing Meadows.

The six-time Grand Slam champion has not played since successfully defending her Wimbledon crown with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over older sister Venus in the July 5th final.

The quadriceps injury forced Williams to withdraw from Stanford last week and San Diego this week. According to Dr. Rodney Gabriel, the Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon, who performed the surgery, Williams has suffered from quadricepts tendonitis for many years.

"(The tendonitis) has been controlled with medication and physical therapy treatments," Dr. Gabriel said in a statement. "She recently developed pain that, although improved with treatment, increased whenever she resumed tennis activities. Secondary to an acute injury, an MRI evaluation of her left knee was performed, which demonstrated a partial tear in the mid-portion of her quadriceps tendon. Surgical treatment of her partial quadriceps tendon rupture was recommended."

The 21-year-old Williams has claimed five of the last six Grand Slam championships, winning 40 of her last 41 matches in majors in that span.

"I expect a 100 percent recovery and Serena'speedy return to competitive tennis," Dr. Gabriel said.
 
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