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Venus Wiliams Hopes To Play Serena At Garden

Monday, February 16, 2009

Note: Near the end of this article, after stating that Venus Williams has not changed her mind about playing Indian Wells, the article implies that the sole reason she and Serena are not playing is because they were booed after Venus defaulted with an injured knee.

If you recall, the sisters and their father, Richard Williams, have stated that they encountered racist behavior in Indian Wells.

In a November 2008 interview with the New York Times Serena Williams stated:

“I’m not going to be playing at Indian Wells. I’ve had some extremely life-altering things that happened to me there. So I told Larry Scott there are things that happened there that he understands shouldn’t happen, especially me being African-American. We’ve been struggling for so long. I try to stand up for what I believe in. I won’t be able to say anything positive about Indian Wells. If they really want me to promote it, then honestly, I don’t know what to say.”


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AP/New York: Venus Williams wants to play her top-ranked sister when women's tennis returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time in nearly nine years.

Williams will join Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic on March 2 in the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup. They will compete for $1.2 million in prize money.

"I'm hoping for an all-Williams final," Venus said Wednesday during a conference call. "That would be most exciting for us and, of course, for the fans. I love playing with Serena, against her and in doubles."

The single-elimination exhibition will feature three players who won Grand Slam titles in 2008. Ivanovic won her first major at the French Open, Venus won Wimbledon and Serena won the U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. Jankovic held the No. 1 ranking for part of last season.

The draw will be held later this month, and they will compete in a one-set, no-ad scoring semifinal. The winners will play a best-of-three final.

In her only appearance at Madison Square Garden, Venus lost in the 1999 WTA season-ending tournament.

"There is an unbelievable amount of tennis tradition there for the women," she said. "It was the pinnacle of the season. I feel honored to be playing."

The Garden hosted its final WTA season-ending championships in 2000. Williams captured her first season-ending event last November in Doha, Qatar.

Roger Federer and Pete Sampras played an exhibition match last March at the Garden, the first men's pro tennis competition there since 1996.

The Williams sisters last faced off at the Wimbledon final. They've combined to win the last three Grand Slam singles titles, so the goal is to stay healthy throughout the season.

"As long as that happens, I really play good tennis," said Williams, who teamed with Serena to win the Australian Open doubles title. "I love the challenge. If it wasn't challenging, we wouldn't love it as much as we do."

Williams will compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships, which begin Sunday. She hasn't changed her mind about skipping the tournament next month at Indian Wells, Calif., one of the mandatory events on the WTA schedule. In 2001, Venus defaulted with a knee injury before a semifinal match against Serena and they were booed by the crowd.

She said King, an investor in the Indian Wells tournament, hasn't tried to persuade her to play.

"I don't think that's her job or her aim," Venus said. "With Billie, her whole intention has been if I'm OK and happy more than anything else."

Venus said she hasn't been paying close attention to the recent steroid revelations in baseball. She considers tennis "a completely different sport."

"You have to hold your nerve, and I don't know if there's a drug for that," she said. "Tennis has a pretty good record and we continually test."

The showdown will be broadcast on HBO. It's part of "Tennis Night in America," an effort by the U.S. Tennis Association to get youth signed up to play.

Posted by Shelia

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