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Serena's knee surgery opens door for battle for No. 1 by Belgian duo

BY JAMES BECK Of The Post and Courier Staff

Serena Williams' knee surgery came so suddenly it caught the tennis world flat-footed. As Serena pulled out of tournament after tournament and finally yielded to surgery, the WTA Tour appeared to be subdued.

Finally, there was a race for the No. 1 ranking in the world. Women's tennis would be as exciting as ever, just with new faces challenging for world supremacy. Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne would be worthy beneficiaries of the decline of the Williams sisters, just as Steffi Graf benefited so greatly from Monica Seles' unfortunate stabbing 10 years ago.

Clijsters took the top spot by default last week, although she may have claimed it legitimately a few weeks later. Serena was in a position where she practically had to win the U.S. Open to retain her top ranking.

Next year should be an interesting one for women's tennis. Clijsters and Henin-Hardenne likely will end 2003 in the top two positions in the world. The Belgians are young, just 20 and 21 years old, and should be around for awhile. The big question, of course, pertains to the Williams sisters and their futures in tennis.

Serena will be 22 next month and Venus is 23, so age shouldn't be an issue. But no one knows what impact knee surgery will have on Serena's tennis game. If her mobility is restricted by knee problems, she will become much more vulnerable.

Knee injuries often become career-defining obstacles for tennis players, as well as other athletes. Graf appeared to be virtually certain of breaking Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles when she won the 1996 U.S. Open, her sixth consecutive title in Grand Slams in which she competed and 21st Grand Slam success overall. Of course, a series of knee injuries and surgeries the next three years limited Graf to just one more Grand Slam title.

Hopefully, Serena will be able to overcome surgery and be as good as new when 2004 starts.

Going into the U.S. Open with her younger sister sidelined, Venus Williams normally would be the player to beat. But Venus hasn't played in a tournament since losing to Serena in the Wimbledon final. Venus continues to withdraw from tournaments due to the abdominal injury she suffered at Wimbledon, and has fallen all the way to fifth in the world rankings.

The word from the WTA is that Venus reportedly has resumed practicing, although she doesn't have Serena to help her prepare for the U.S. Open.
 

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that's a fair article.
 

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Good article....now it´s to be seen if the Belgians can keep this up and start dominating the slams with the sisters present and healthy. Remember this: the sisters always come back strong after an injury, so the Belgians better be ready for the rumble!
 

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hingis-seles said:
Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne would be worthy beneficiaries of the decline of the Williams sisters, just as Steffi Graf benefited so greatly from Monica Seles' unfortunate stabbing 10 years ago.
Am I the only person that thinks the second half of that sentence was really unnecessary ?
 

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great smash said:
Funny how you keep reading things that aren't even written...
If you check the USO website, they have an injured Venus as the second favorite to win the USO.
 

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kart, you're not. wtf @ that...
 

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I thought that that comment was nice and catty. . .LOL
 

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Kart said:
Am I the only person that thinks the second half of that sentence was really unnecessary ?
But isn´t it true?! ;)
 

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Totally uneccesary. As IF STEFFI was a nobody who'd won nothing prior to that.


If Venus is entered she's def. the favorite to win the US Open title. If she's beaten by any player in the field including the Beligians, it will be considered an upset.
 

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great smash said:
Weren't we discussing this article instead of the one of the USO website...
That's not the point. It wouldn't matter to you what was written in any article, because you think Venus will lose anyway. I am trying to point out that regardless of what this article says, Venus is still a favorite. Reemember, she has proven she can actually win the tournament; Kim and Justine haven't, yet.
 
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