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Serena Hopes To Mastermind U.S. Revival

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

By Simon Evans

MIAMI, March 25 (Reuters) - Serena Williams believes the United States needs to get more tour events if it is to address the lack of American women in the top 100 -- and she could be willing to play a role in bringing about that change.

The world number one is followed by her sister Venus, number six in the rankings, but the only other American women in the top 100 are Bethanie Mattek (37) and Jill Craybas (85).

The anticipated flood of talent following the emergence of the high-profile Williams sisters has not happened with the rankings dominated by East Europeans -- or as Serena puts it: "It seems like there are 12 Russians in the top 10".

"I just think, when I was growing up there were lots more tournaments in the United States, a lot more American players, now there are five or six tournaments and no American players.

"You don't see the players, they are in Europe and Asia which is where all the players are coming from," Williams told Reuters in an interview arranged by the WTA Tour's sponsor Sony Ericsson.

In recent years, a popular WTA tournament in San Diego has been dropped and Williams said this could have a knock on effect on attracting young girls to the sport.

"We have got to get tournaments back, like San Diego which was well established but was cancelled. Those tournaments were the ones I grew up watching. I grew up going to (the event at) UCLA because it was close to me. My Dad would take us there and I wanted to be a tennis player because of going there," she said.


The 27-year-old Williams said she could be interested in a role, after her playing days are over, trying to entice tournaments back to the U.S and developing young talent.

"That could be interesting it would be fun to get a lot of support back -- that is the only way we will get the players," she said.

Williams though has not completely given up hope on the next generation of players making the breakthrough.

"There are a few American players coming up, they are really, really young and haven't got attention yet and you never know.

"I didn't get much attention when I was very young, I came out of nowhere. I am hoping the same thing can happen," she said.

Despite her sadness at the decline of U.S. tennis, Williams boycotts one of the biggest events in Indian Wells -- where she was jeered by the crowd in 2001 after Venus pulled out of a semi-final clash with her sister.

Although that event has become one of the new mandatory tournaments, with penalties for non-attendance, Williams skipped this year's edition and says she has no intention of ever returning.

"I don't play Indian Wells, I haven't played it for forever and I will never play it again. After that bad experience there is no need for me to go back, I've been there and I left in glory," she said.

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© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved.

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