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Venus Williams Debuts With 2009 WTT Philadelphia Freedoms

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Americans Venus Williams and 14-year-old Madison Keys, who is the youngest player in the league, at WTT match against the Washington Kastles at the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
(Photos by Getty Images and WireImage)


Playing for the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis in a 3,000-seat temporary stadium in the King of Prussia Mall's parking lot is quite a bit different from playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

But for Venus Williams, they both mean one thing: fun on the tennis court.


"It's two different types of fun," Williams said before last night's match. "I love playing for the Philadelphia Freedoms. I love the team aspect, the support you get. It's just so different."

Williams, 29, is in her sixth WTT season, four as a member of the Freedoms. This season, she will play three matches for Philadelphia.

In her 2009 debut on Tuesday night, she led the Freedoms to a 23-16 win over the Washington Kastles. She scored a singles victory and partnered with Nathan Healey to earn a mixed doubles win.


Last night, Williams made her home debut - her only scheduled appearance in King of Prussia this season - in an 18-15 loss to the Sacramento Capitals and received the loudest ovation from a crowd that flocked to the makeshift stadium to catch one of the sport's biggest stars. Many fans headed to the exits after she concluded her night with two wins and a loss.

In the women's singles match, 25-year-old Angela Haynes upset the Wimbledon runner-up, 5-1. Williams is third in the Women's Tennis Association rankings, while Haynes is 129th in the world.

The upset, combined with Sam Warburg's 5-1 win over Healey, gave the Capitals a commanding 10-2 lead after two sets.


Williams took to the court a second time and redeemed herself. She teamed with Healey to defeat Mark Knowles and Olga Puchkova, 5-2, in mixed doubles.

In women's doubles, Williams and Wayne's Lisa Raymond beat Haynes and Puchkova, 5-1.

"I missed a few shots, but the next two games were good," Williams said. "All the matches were either really good for us or really bad, but that's team tennis for you."


Williams' contributions to the Freedoms come on the heels of a grueling Wimbledon run that ended Saturday on Centre Court. Venus fell short of her sixth Wimbledon and eighth Grand Slam title, losing to her younger sister, Serena, 7-6 (3), 6-2. The sisters were back on the court just hours later to claim their fourth Wimbledon doubles championship by defeating Rennae Stubbs and Samantha Stosur, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

"You've just got to make sure you don't burn out," Williams said. "Everyone's different. I'm only playing three times for the Freedoms, which is short, but I can use the matches to prepare for the U.S. Open."

In the meantime, Williams and her sister endure scrutiny that no other American tennis players seem to face - such as Jason Whitlock's criticism of Serena as an underachiever in a column on Foxsports.com on Tuesday. But the older sister does not seem to be worried about it.

"Who is Jason Whitlock?" Williams asked, confused. "Is he an athlete?"

When told he was a columnist, she answered, "Oh, I don't read the press."








Posted by Shelia

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