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Black History Month: Dr. John A. Watson, Arthur Ashe Childhood Coach, Life Celebrated With Virginia Senate Resolution

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Celebrating the life of John Andrew Watson, Jr. Agreed to by the Senate, March 9, 2006 Agreed to by the House of Delegates, March 10, 2006

Black Tennis Pro's Dr. John A. Watson, Childhood Arthur Ashe Tennis Coach Life Celebrated With Virginia Senate ResolutionWHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., was born in Greenville, South Carolina, lived a rich and
distinguished life, and full of years at age 85, entered into eternal rest on February 17, 2006; and
WHEREAS, at the age of two, his family left Greenville to settle in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where John Andrew Watson, Jr., was reared with his three brothers and two sisters; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., was educated in the Bethlehem Public Schools, and attended Howard University until he interrupted his studies to serve in the United States Army during World War II from 1943 to 1946, and was present when General George Patton's forces liberated Paris; and
WHEREAS, after the war, John Andrew Watson, Jr., returned to Howard University, where he
earned a bachelor's degree in Romance Languages, and the desire for higher education compelled him to return to France, where he earned the Certificate of Graduate Studies, the equivalent of a master's degree, in Romance Languages from the University of Paris; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., joined the faculty at Virginia Union University in 1948 as an associate professor of Spanish and French, and, for 10 years, he concurrently taught Spanish at Virginia State University; and
WHEREAS, while teaching at Virginia Union University and Virginia State University, John Andrew Watson, Jr., earned a doctorate in Spanish at Catholic University; and
WHEREAS, with impeccable and impressive teaching credentials, John Andrew Watson, Jr., served as a member of the faculty at Howard University and as chairman of his department at Virginia State University for more than 30 years, and also held the position of professor and chairman of the Department of Foreign Languages at Virginia Union University, where he served for more than 57 years until his death; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., was noted for two speeches, and for 58 years he drilled the first speech into his students in the Department of Foreign Languages at Virginia Union University, in which he stated that "the mind learns how to learn when it learns a second language, and if you do not learn a foreign language before you leave college, you have left something behind"; and
WHEREAS, while at Virginia Union University, he discovered a new passion––tennis––which he taught himself to play well enough to become the University's tennis coach in 1959; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., coached tennis at Virginia Union University for 43 years, and from 1959 to 1987, his team never had a losing season; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., delivered his second speech for 46 years each June to tennis players packed into the bleachers at Battery Park before the opening of the Southeastern Open Tennis Tournament, which he had directed since its inception, lecturing and demanding "the highest level of sportsmanship, no bad language, no throwing down your racquet in disgust, and no temper tantrums"; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., demanded that his team and tennis students be sportsmen and more than just tennis players; he had the reputation of stopping grown men during matches and pulling
players off the court for less than good sportsmanship conduct; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., equally well educated in the finer aspects of tennis, achieved a Virginia District #6 ranking, held rankings within the top three senior divisions of the American Tennis Association (ATA), and was a finalist in the senior division of the ATA Championships in Boston; and
WHEREAS, while playing tennis at the old Brook Field courts, the only place in Richmond at one time available to African American athletes, he met nine-year-old Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr., assumed the youth's tennis instruction from his previous coach, and helped the future champion to hone his early court skills; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., coached Arthur Ashe, was his constant practice partner until Arthur Ashe's departure from Richmond at age 15 to train with Dr. Walter Johnson (who also coached Althea Gibson), and is credited with turning Arthur Ashe into one of the world's greatest tennis players; and
WHEREAS, Richmond native Arthur Ashe won 51 titles during his tennis career, became the first African American player named to the United States Davis Cup team, the first African American to win the United States Open, and the first and only African American man to win Wimbledon; and earned respect and a reputation for impeccable sportsmanship, a quality he undoubtedly learned under the tutelage of John Andrew Watson, Jr.; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., also made a name for himself in local tennis competitions;
was among the first four African Americans to play in the Davenport City Tennis Championship when it moved to Byrd Park in 1967; served as the longtime president of the Richmond Racquet Club and first vice president of the American Tennis Association, the oldest African American sports organization in the United States; and was inducted into the Mid Atlantic Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992; and
WHEREAS, he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and was actively involved in
community service, volunteering for many years as a tennis coach for the Richmond Department of Recreation and Parks; and
WHEREAS, John Andrew Watson, Jr., believed that tennis was a sport for a lifetime, and through the game he touched the lives of many young people, saving many from a path of destruction by introducing them to tennis, a portal to a different life, and secured hundreds of scholarships for them during his tenure as director of the Southeastern Tennis Tournament; and
WHEREAS, he derived great personal satisfaction from knowing that so many children and youths of diverse backgrounds had benefited from his instruction and encouragement, and had developed into productive and successful citizens; and
WHEREAS, the lives of many have been enriched through the life of John Andrew Watson, Jr., and his family, friends, students, and colleagues and the people of Virginia mourn his loss, but will cherish his memory and legacy; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the Senate, the House of Delegates concurring, That the General Assembly hereby note with great sadness the loss of John Andrew Watson, Jr.; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the Senate prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the family of John Andrew Watson, Jr., adopted son and distinguished educator and tennis coach, as an expression of the General Assembly's respect for his memory and gratitude for his service and contributions to the children and youth of this Commonwealth.

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Posted by Shelia

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Venus Repeats Defense Of Second Consecutive Title In Acapulco

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams Defends HSBC Abierto Mexicano Telcel TitleVenus Williams, USA
(Photos by AP)

Black Tennis Pro's Polona Hercog at the HSBC Abierto Mexicano TelcelOne week after defending her title at the Dubai Open, Venus Williams came from a set down to repeat her Mexican Open title, beating Polona Hercog, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, at Acapulco on Saturday night.

It was Williams' second consecutive title -- this one on clay and another a week ago on hard courts in Dubai -- and pushed her career total to 43 WTA titles, the most by an active player.

Hercog was appearing in her first WTA final.

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams Defends HSBC Abierto Mexicano Telcel TitleWilliams started slowly and got into trouble with an erratic serve and groundstrokes that were often long. Hercog was poised in winning the first set and seldom missed a shot.

The American gained her composure in the second set and began to wear down the 19-year-old Slovenian, hitting the corners more often and opening the court.

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams Defends HSBC Abierto Mexicano Telcel Title"I played such a good opponent," Williams said. "In the first set she did not miss one shot and I had to find a way to get into the match."

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams Defends HSBC Abierto Mexicano Telcel TitleBlack Tennis Pro's Venus Williams Defends HSBC Abierto Mexicano Telcel Title

Source: Newswire

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Posted by Shelia

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Blake Defeated In Both Singles And Doubles In Delray Beach

Black Tennis Pro's James Blake vs. Ivo Karlovic in Delray BeachJames Blake, USA

Friday, Delray Beach, Fla. (AP) — Second-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia advanced to the semifinals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championship on Friday, overpowering seventh-seeded James Blake in the third set for a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1 victory.

The 6-foot-10 Karlovic served 23 aces in improving to 5-3 against Blake and reaching his first semifinal in four quarterfinal appearances this year.

Blake broke the 33rd-ranked Croat once, the fourth game of the second set at love.

In the third set, Karlovic lost only three points in four service games. He won two service games in the final set at love — two of the four points in the first game were aces, and three of the four service points in the fifth game were aces.

Blake, a two-time finalist at Delray Beach, questioned whether Karlovic's backhand was in on the point that cost the American his serve for the second time in the final set, but he lost the argument.

Black Tennis Pro's James Blake and Robert Kendrick Doubles in Delray Beach

“To miss a call that’s clearly out when you can overrule a 140 mile-an-hour first serve seems a little strange to me, but that’s going to happen,” said Blake.

Later, Blake teamed with fellow American Robert Kendrick in a doubles losing effort against Slovakia's Igor Zelenay and Germany's Philipp Marx, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, [10-6].

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Posted by Shelia

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Venus Blogs Final Entries From Acapulco

Monday, February 22, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams' Acapulco Blog
Tonight was a battle. And I played a very worthy opponent. I had never heard of her before, but it was intense. I was having a hard time adjusting to the clay from the hard, and the courts here are playing very particular too, and then there was her game... It was one of those matches I'll be talking about for a while.

The crowd was extremely supportive. I've never had that support - EVER. Not even at Fed Cup or the Olympics. It was insane. I couldn't believe it. It was so nice! I find wherever I play, people root for the underdog, hoping that player will come up with something special. Maybe this time I was the underdog? She was a true clay courter and I was forced to adjust. When you're one game away from losing you have to find something... I got a game, then another, and finally when it was 5-3, I felt I had momentum. I started playing more aggressively from there.

These kinds of matches are fun (especially when you win them!)

Earlier, I forced myself to go to sleep. I knew it would help me in the match. So I slept. No multitasking, no brochure editing... Although I did wake up first thing in the morning to finish editing some marketing materials. Who knows, tomorrow I may crack open a book... but no one can be sure ;) The Make A Wish event raised $10,000 - which is very exciting! There are three big galas we do in my area in the year and this was one of them. I wish I could have been there...

Well... it's Friday and my mom hasn't made it. I doubt she'll come. She won't rush to another final. Maybe she's just relaxing at home...

One last thing... I want to say a huge thank you to all of my Mexican fans for tonight. I've never, ever felt that before. It was wonderful. Hopefully I never find myself down 1-5 in the third set - but if I do, I hope it happens in Mexico :)


How do you feel about this tournament? Evelyn

I've had some good wins here. I don't know why I play so well here. Last year and this year... even when I'm not playing my best, I've found a way to win the match. I'm going to have to channel this determination at the French! Crazy... I guess I'll have to make this a regular stop. I should have played here before last year. Now I know. I'll have to keep coming back.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams' Acapulco Blog
Hi everyone. How are you?

Tonight I played another tough player who was on her game. Very impressive. After I lost the second set, I knew I had to make a few more shots. Missing doesn't really help my cause! She played really well though, I have to give her credit. I feel like I'm improving with each match. It was very exciting not to be down 1-5 in the third. I'll always remember that, but hopefully won't repeat it!

Before matches I eat just enough so I won't get tired. There's a certain amount and I have a numbering system. Whenever I feel I've had as much as I need, I stop. But I don't eat pasta after the match anymore. I'm done this lifestyle.

I didn't work on anything during the day, I just rested. And watched Smallville. My older sister is a huge fan of it too. We could talk about it for years. I would always tease her before for watching it... but now look at me.

I just love things that can't happen in real life I guess. Amazing things happen in Smallville. I love that. It's too early to tell who my favorite character is on the show, though. It always changes for me, because some characters annoy me, and so on. I only just finished Season 1, too. I also didn't crack open any books... It's just not going to happen this week - I'll start when I go home...

There were these little girls outside my court today looking through the fence. Now I don't speak Spanish but I know a little, and one girl said 'My name is Venus too!' It was so sweet. I don't know if that was her name or not. Actually, I doubt it. But I guess she wanted to be a tennis player, it was so cute.

I'll talk to you all after the final. Have a good night!


What did you do with the sombrero you won last year? Raymond

I gave it to my dad! He loved it so much. He saw pictures of me with it on and told me he loved the hat, so I gave it to him, and I haven't seen it since. But I'm hoping to have a doubles partner for it soon ;)


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams' Acapulco Blog
Well I played a very worthy opponent today. She really played so well. I made a few errors in the first set and there was no room for that, because she made none and was playing aggressively. I had to turn it around in the second. So I started working on getting the win, and I'm happy I was able to do it.

The thing about me... I never feel pressure to defend titles. I think that makes me better at defending titles, because whenever I return to a tournament, I usually do pretty well. I guess Dubai and Acapulco is one of my specials...

As for the sombrero... this one's mine :)

I've been informed that this title ties me for No.10 for all-time titles with Martina Hingis. That's great! I guess I'll be passing her soon... I have the advantage because I'm still playing :) I'll be working on getting further into the Top 10.

Next for me is the Billie Jean King Cup in Madison Square Garden. That's hopefully another two matches for me on Monday. Last year I had a great time playing and hopefully it'll be even better this year. Last year there was a blizzard there... and I hadn't been in snow before. Well, I had landed places with snow already on the ground and a few flurries, but never where it was REALLY snowing. I thought people didn't go out in that kind of weather. It was so funny, like something out of a movie - one day when I was leaving the hotel, the coldest rush of wind came and I ran back inside... I thought, 'Are you serious?' I'm not used to that in Florida. We chase the Sun...

I had fun doing the blog again! I look forward to doing it again soon. I'll see you all in New York at the Billie Jean King Cup... Stay tuned! And visit my Facebook and Twitter pages, and my website too...

Until next time!


You never seem angry on the court. How do you do it? Olivier

It kind of follows my attitude off the court. Nothing ever bothers me. It helps on the court to think clearly, without emotions. It's just harder with emotions. I have been emotional before... but for the most part I'm a cucmber.

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Posted by Shelia

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Seen On The Scene... Serena, Mashona and Dustin

Friday, February 26, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams, Common and Denzel Washington at Lakers game(L-R) Serena Williams, Common and Denzel Washington attend game between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 18, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photos by Wireimage)

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams, Common and Denzel Washington at Lakers gameBlack Tennis Pro's Mashona Washington in Acapulco at Fiesta Blanco(R) American Mashona Washington in Acapulco, Mexico at the Fiesta Blanco on February 17.

Black Tennis Pro's Dustin Brown at lion's park in Johannesburg, South AfricaJamaican Dustin Brown at a lions park in Johannesburg, South Africa on February 4.

Black Tennis Pro's Dustin Brown at lion's park in Johannesburg, South Africa

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Posted by Shelia

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Mashona Washington And Sharon Fichman Knocked Out Of Doubles In Acapulco

Black Tennis Pro's Mashona Washington and Sharon Fichman Doubles at Abierto Mexicano TELCEL(L-R) Canadian Sharon Fichman and American Mashona Washington

The doubles team of American Mashona Washington and Canadian Sharon Fichman were defeated in the quarterfinal round of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL by the Czech Republic's team of Vladimira Uhlirova and Renata Voracova 7-5, 6-1.

Black Tennis Pro's Mashona Washington and Sharon Fichman Doubles at Abierto Mexicano TELCEL

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Posted by Shelia

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Black History Month: Minority Tennis - A Historical Perspective, Part III

Part I - The Beginning
Part II The Emergence Of A Black Champion



At the end of Althea’s career, Dr. Johnson realized that his dream of helping to produce a world champion was successful. But, he had something else up his sleeve… For the past several years, he had been grooming other talented youngsters at his home in Lynchburg, Virginia. Each summer, a group of the most talented minority youth from across the country would gather at his home to train and play tournaments. I was selected as the northeastern candidate and this is how I met the next world champion, Arthur Ashe. We were a talented group but it soon became clear that Arthur was something special. He was a quiet, determined youngster and was developing a formidable tennis game. In Dr. Johnson’s opinion, Arthur was perfect to lead the charge because he was unflappable. Insults, flagrant cheating and verbal abuse would roll off of Arthur’s back without effect. The mission was clear; win quietly and respond to nothing but the tennis ball. It was further made clear that any of us that reacted to the bad calls; any of us that argued; any of us that responded to the verbal slurs or challenged the fairness of the situation, would be sent home immediately. Although none of us were sent home for violations of these rules, those of us from the big, northern cities had to bite our tongues. Arthur, on the other had was born and raised in the segregated south. His father was the public park attendant at the tennis courts across the street from his home and he couldn’t play on those courts because he was black. He seemed to understand that he was destined for greatness and that his icy-cool demeanor was a key to success. We were made to understand that an outburst by one of us, would be seen as a negative characteristic of the entire group. Tournament directors would be able to say, “See, I knew they’d act that way if we let them into the tournament!” There were many youngsters placed in that situation over the years, but, none of us ever allowed those words to be uttered.

After civil rights legislation was enacted in 1964, history would show that the black elite moved to exclusive, suburban communities. Some people believe that this suburban exodus was the beginning of the decline in the growth of black tennis as well as a slowing of the positive growth in the black community. Others believe that the ability to live beside and emulate positive role models, along with the forced creation of a homogeneous community, were positive aspects of segregation. Black businessmen, both legitimate and otherwise, were guaranteed to be successful - as a direct result of segregation. Any Black that opened a grocery store, produce stand or repair store was certain to capture the business of the local constituency, because those customers were not permitted to patronize white-owned stores. This environment provided fertile ground for entrepreneurs; legitimate businessmen and hustlers alike.

It is into this era that Arthur Ashe emerged as a standout tennis player. In some ways, Arthur was a most unlikely role model and world champion. He was slender, almost frail looking. He was mild-mannered; always appearing to be passive, unemotional and reserved. Did he possess the strength, focus and determination to overcome the alienation of segregation, along with the rejection and degradation that was sure to be in his future? Wouldn’t someone from the north - someone with a more aggressive personality - someone who would defy the system have a better chance to overcome the odds? History would show that Arthur was the perfect candidate. He was simply better than the rest of us. He was a likeable young man and if you were not a hard-core racist, you would find Arthur friendly, personable and non-confrontational. Even in his memoirs, “Days of Grace”, one can sense his absence of anger. Concerning his inability to play tournament tennis in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, Arthur said: “I remember the kindly white tennis official, Sam Woods, who would not allow me to play in municipal tournaments in Richmond, and all the other not-so-kindly officials who barred my way so that I finally played in only one official tennis tournament while I was a junior in Virginia.”

His success as a Davis Cup player and his U.S. Open and Wimbledon titles are legendary. But, his recognition at tennis became the tool that he would use to challenge society to end the racial injustice that plagued the planet. He made several trips to South Africa (against the wishes of many Black leaders in America) to pressure the government to end apartheid. He marched on Washington in support of the fair treatment of Haitian refugees. His life was dedicated to the elevation of his people. He focused a great deal of his attention on education. He encouraged youngsters to become doctors and lawyers. He wanted youngsters to attend and graduate from college instead of putting all of their energy into athletics. He realized that less than 1% of varsity athletes ever signed a professional sports contract. At the same time, he made many attempts to create a system that produced a pipeline of young black players that could use tennis as a vehicle to take them to college. One such program was a collaboration with Nick Bollettieri. The Ashe-Bollettieri “Cities” Tennis Program (ABC) taught tennis to more than 10,000 children. The program attempted to impress upon them the value of preventive health education and the importance of staying in school. Hundreds from this program (which later became the Arthur Ashe Safe Passage Foundation) went on to college on either academic or athletic scholarships. It was one of the programs that made Arthur most proud. Before Arthur died, he got a glimpse of Venus and Serena Williams, two young girls that would, for a short time, take over the reins of leadership after his voice was silenced. But, Arthur would not live to see the emergence of James Blake. James possessed many qualities that would enamor him to the tennis community at large. He is handsome, articulate and Harvard University educated. More importantly, he is thoughtful, non-confrontational and non-threatening. James, if he is so inclined, will be the heir-apparent to Arthur’s throne; the voice of Black tennis. Because, you see, like Arthur, the voice of James Blake is the only one that is likely to resonate with the powers that be.

The author, Bob Davis, currently owns and operates Coastal Tennis and Sports, LLC in Bradenton, Florida.

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Posted by Shelia

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James Blake Is A Busy Man - Advances To Quarterfinals In Delray Beach And Schedules Inaugural Events In Atlanta And Atlantic City

James Blake, USA
(Photo by © Alese Pechter)

At the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships on Thursday, American James Blake, who has reached the finals here twice, advanced to the quarterfinal round after a 6-3, 6-1 defeat of Robin Haase of The Netherlands. Blake's next opponent is Croatia's Ivo Karlovic.

After his win over Haase, the 30-year-old American hit the main stadium court for a first-round evening doubles match, teaming with Robert Kendrick to defeat fellow Americans Eric Butorac and David Martin 6-3, 6-4 on a chilly night in South Florida. They next meet Philipp Marx and Igor Zelenay, who earlier upset the No. 3-seeded team of Ross Hutchins and Jordan Kerr in three sets.

In his first round match, Blake defeated fellow American Taylor Dent 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Atlanta Tennis Championships Inaugural Tournament

Committed to playing in the inaugural Atlanta Tennis Championships is James Blake, the long-time American tennis star who has been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world. Blake has won 10 ATP titles, including the 2006 Indianapolis tournament, which the Atlanta tournament is replacing. He started his career in 2000 and has been a Davis Cup stalwart for the American team.

The Atlanta event, owned and operated by USTA Southern, will serve as the kick-off to the 2010 Olympus US Open Series.

Caesars Tennis Classic Inaugural Tournament

A match between Pete Sampras and James Blake has been added to the inaugural Caesars Tennis Classic at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on April 10.

The event, being hosted by Venus Williams, has three matches in a team format.

The first features Ivan Lendl, in his first match since his 1994 retirement, against Mats Wilander in a one-set no-ad scoring match.

The second match has Andy Roddick, currently the top-ranked American men's player, facing Marat Safin in a best-of-three-set match. This match will also be no-ad scoring and will be decided by a super tiebreaker (first to 10 must win by two) if necessary.

The third match has Sampras, 14-time Grand Slam champion, against Blake in a best-of-three-set match. This match will also be no-ad scoring and will also be decided by the super tiebreaker, if necessary.

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Posted by Shelia

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Venus Advances to Acapulco Semifinals And Continues Blogging

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs Laura Pous Tio at Mexican OpenVenus Williams, USA
(Photo by Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

ACAPULCO, Mexico, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Venus Williams had to stage a major rally Thursday to down unheralded Spaniard Laura Pous Tio and post a quarterfinal win at the Mexican Open.

Williams, the defending Acapulco champion, was trailing 5-1 in the final set after losing the first frame to Pous Tio 4-6 and taking the second set 6-3. But she broke her opponent's serve three times before finally finishing the match on serve by holding at love and winning it 7-5.

With the win, Williams will go on to face Romanian Edina Gallovits in the semifinals. Gallovits gained the spot by dispatching Canadian Sharon Fichman 7-5, 6-2 on the clay courts.

Venus Blogging

Monday, February 22, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To ask Venus a question, visit the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour site here.

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams blogging from Acapulco show with sister IshaVenus and her sister Isha

It's 1:15 in the morning. I tried laying down but I guess I don't like going to bed!

I had a pretty late match today. Afterwards I did press and then all my routines to get the body up and running again, and now I'm eating more. Today it was chicken and rice. No pasta... there's a limit of how much I can torture myself.

I was much more productive today - I didn't watch much TV. I was working on some marketing for V Starr Interiors (my interior design company). I have a charity event tomorrow for Make A Wish. I won't be there but I'm excited about that. I also need to be working on some designs... I've had a lot of problems: I'm taking a class but I've been extremely unsuccessful in opening my books this year. I really need to get rid of my TV programs! I always have to multitask because I get bored if I don't. Even when I'm watching Smallville, I have to be doing something at the same time. It makes me happy.

You may have seen my Facebook or Twitter pages by now. When I was younger, I wasn't very cool and didn't really have any friends. I always thought Facebook was where you could connect with people you used to know, and all I ever did was read a lot of books, so I figured it wasn't for me. I was a nerd. But recently I found out someone started a Facebook fan page for me and so I took it over. And I really like it, it's fun. Everyone likes Twitter and Facebook. I don't have any childhood friends on there though... it took me 25 years to get cooler.

Tomorrow I play an opponent I haven't played before, so I'm looking forward to that. Also, my mom is coming here hopefully, as I mentioned she has been threatening to come. I got her some earrings in Dubai but I like them so much I'm wearing them now! I can rationalize it. She always loses an earring. One always comes out of her ear, and she'll come around asking, 'Did you see my earring? It fell out!' She's always wearing just one.

Have a good night... talk to you tomorrow!


P.S. I've attached a picture of me and my sister, Isha :)

What is Harold up to? Jake
He's very happy. The little guy's growing up but he'll always be my little son. I miss him. Special little guy. I picked a really good one... I don't know how but I did! He has a habit of stealing my pillow. Every time I come back he has stolen it, so naturally I just move over and take another one. He's back in Florida right now. I can't wait to get back and see him stealing those pillows.

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Posted by Shelia

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Ljubicic Upsets Tsonga In Dubai

Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Ivan Ljubicic in DubaiJo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
(Photos © Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships)

Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Ivan Ljubicic in DubaiIn an upset during the night session at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday, Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic fired 15 aces and dropped just four points on his first serve in a 7-5, 6-3 defeat of fifth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Ljubicic, who did not face a break point, next faces defending champion Novak Djokovic.

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Posted by Shelia

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"She Has Definitely Touched Many Kenyan Lives," Vice President Musyoka States About Serena Williams

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams Opens Schools in KenyaAmerican Serena Williams in Kenya to set up second school.
(Photos by Getty Images)

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams Opens Schools in Kenya MAKUENI, Kenya - Just over a year after visiting Kenya to open the Serena Williams Secondary School in Matooni, Kenya, Serena Williams returned to the country to follow up on her humanitarian efforts. Williams arrived on February 22 for a three day charity mission where she will inaugurate the Wee Secondary School in Makueni, Eastern Province, Kenya.

The new school lies roughly 50 kilometers from the first one. While in the country, Williams will follow up on the progress of the Matooni school and will hold a tennis teaching session with the students at both schools.

Williams has partnered with technology giant Hewlett Packard and the Build African Schools initiative. She is a global ambassador for the firm and has also worked with the Starfishgreatheart Charity for orphans in South Africa.

Hewlett Packard will equip the school with computers, printers and internet connectivity, while facilitating the training of the local teachers and students.

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams Opens Schools in KenyaKen Mbwaya, Hewlett Packard's managing director for East Africa, said: "As our ambassador, Serena was touched by the plight of children from these areas. This has made many keen to learn, even with daily challenges and limitations. Education is the best platform to invest in as it empowers whole communities.

"Sixty-two percent of Kenyans live in absolute poverty, which means that some very bright children are hindered from achieving their potential. This is an actual impediment to the realization of Vision 2030 and we need to tackle this before we seek IT penetration into rural Kenya. Education is the best platform to invest in as it empowers whole communities."

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams Opens Schools in KenyaWhile in Kenya Serena visited Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who lauded Serena's efforts in setting up Kenyan Schools.

Musyoka said her partnership with leading Computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Charitable organization - Build African Schools, is set to transform rural communities by equipping them with school facilities as well as helping them attain computer literacy.

He made the remarks in his Jogoo house when the tennis superstar paid him a courtesy call.

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams Opens Schools in KenyaThe Vice President, who invited her to also partner with his Kalonzo Musyoka Foundation to provide scholarships to needy students, proposed that Ms Williams would be a worthy beneficiary of the proposed dual citizenship under the new constitution.

"She has definitely touched many Kenyan lives and is therefore worthy of such recognition if she so wishes,'' he said.

Ms Williams said she will continue to not only open and support schools in Kenya but also build and provide computers to other countries, in Africa.

She added that she was committed to contribute towards "putting a smile" on the faces of many unfortunate members of the society.

With a light touch, the champion welcomed the dual citizenship proposal, adding that her only problem would be the confusion at the International Airports on whether to fill her forms as Kenyan or American.

Ms Williams opened Wee Secondary School in Matiliku Location in Makueni district on Tuesday.

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Venus Blogging From Acapulco

To ask Venus a question, visit the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour site here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hello again!

I played my first match tonight and it went well. I had a good time on the clay. It was my first match on clay in... a while. I'm getting the feel of it again.

This afternoon I relaxed. I watched a lot of programming. I didn't better myself at all. Some Smallville... I haven't started watching Grey's yet. As a rule, I watch programming when I'm in non-English speaking countries. I like Private Practice, and I really love Superman... the cartoon :) Yes, I watch cartoons. It's a bad habit I picked up from Serena. Avatar, Justice League... My favorite person in the Justice League is Superman but if they were real people, for sure it would be The Flash. I would definitely have a crush! Children watch cartoons but cartoons really aren't childish - my mom watches them, my sister watches them... there are some good episodes! I get so caught up in some of the stories.

For dinner we just hit the buffet. Quick and easy. Nothing too special... I did eat some barbecued goat though. I have to try everything once. I felt adventurous! It was good! On another note, as I started playing my matches today, I started carbs too... I downed lots of rice and pasta before the match. It drives me nuts. Brings my happiness level down.

I'll talk to you all again tomorrow... have a good night!


Who is with you in Acapulco? Mimie
Thanks for the question. Isha is here, my assistant Jessica is here, my hitting partner Dave is here... My mom and dad aren't home. Sometimes it's nice to be on the road without a coach. Quietness in your head with no one talking on the sidelines... My mom has been threatening to come this weekend. We'll see!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Hey everyone, welcome back to my blog!

This is kinda like déjà vu... Last year I won Dubai, came to Acapulco and blogged. This year was a little better than the last because I didn't have as long a layover in New York, only two hours. The luggage took a little longer to come, though - it finally came this morning. But it didn't bother me. Until now I've never had a problem with it and everyone else has so I figured it was my turn :)

No jet lag. I'm okay. It's not a lot of time to adjust to the court surface and time zone but I feel like a pro on all grounds - not just tennis - so I have the whole schedule down, the method. I'll be strong for my first match tomorrow.

I talked about the breakfast buffet last year and I'm going to this year too. I love it! I always pile so much on my plate, even though I barely eat any of it. I started eating a little scoop of ice cream at night, too, but I had to stop. I don't really like carbs. I like meat. But a tennis player cannot live on meat alone. I've been taking a break from carbs the last few days but tomorrow I'll have to start back up. I just like meat so much, though. Steak... I like chicken, fried chicken... but overall I'm not a big eater. I'm not into the whole eating thing.

Right now I'm just winding down, it's around 10pm. All day I made sure I didn't fall asleep so I would be able to sleep at a normal time. What do I do to wind down? I'm a tennis geek, so I watch a ton of tennis. Not doing anything is so luxurious. We all know that feeling. Lying around without a care in the world until the next match or practice... I enjoy getting it done and the day being over!

I love keeping in touch with you all with the blog. I usually have more to say... Anyway, visit me on Twitter, Facebook and my website too!

Have a good night!


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Tsonga Into Second Round Of Dubai Championships

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
(Photo by Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)

Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France advanced to the second round of the Barclay's Dubai Tennis Championships Tournament after fellow Frenchman Michael Llodra withdrew from their match after losing the first set.

Tsonga won the tie-break 11-9 before Llodra announced he was unable to continue, citing a hamstring injury.

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Venus Opens Acapulco With A Win

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Mathilde Johansson at 2010 Abierto AcapulcoACAPULCO, México - Although it was tougher than the scoreline might suggest, Venus Williams was relatively untroubled in her opening match of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, beating Mathilde Johansson, 62 63.

Williams, the No.1 seed and defending champion on the red clay of Acapulco, faced break points as she served in the first game of the match but held and wound up clinching the first set in 34 minutes. The first four games of the second set all went to deuce and it was Johansson who seemed more in form, breaking for 2-1 and holding a point for 3-1; but Williams rolled from there, winning five of the last six games to prevail in an hour and 25 minutes.

"I'm just trying to get my rhythm on the clay so it was good to win," Williams said. "I really had to work for this tournament last year. This time last year I played a really tough three set match before I won, so it's a little better today. But I still just want to take it round by round and hopefully win."

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WTA, ATP And USTA Pro Circuit Tennis Action This Week



Venus Williams, USA defeated Mathilde Johansson, FRA
6-2, 6-3


Mashona Washington, USA and Sharon Fichman, CAN
Edina Gallovitts, ROU and Mariya Koryttseva, UKR



Venus Williams, USA vs. Kaia Kanepi, EST

Eliminated during singles qualifying rounds:

Angela Haynes, USA



Raquel Kops-Jones, USA and Sarah Borwell, GBR
Darija Jurak, CRO and Katalin Marosi, HUN

Eliminated during singles qualifying rounds:

Raquel Kops-Jones, USA



Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA defeated Michael Llodra, FRA
7-6(9), Ret'd



Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA vs. Ivan Ljubicic, CRO



James Blake, USA vs. Taylor Dent, USA


Jeff Coetzee, RSA and Scott Lipsky, USA
Jarkko Nieminen, FIN and Bobby Reynolds, USA

James Blake, USA and Ryan Kendrick, USA
Eric Butorac, USA and David Martin, USA

Eliminated during singles qualifying rounds:

(6)Donald Young, USA



Phillip Simmonds, USA, vs. Artem Sitak, RUS
Nicholas Monroe, USA vs. Blake Strode, USA


Phillip Simmonds, USA and Andrew Anderson, RSA
Arnau Brugues-Davi, ESP and Victor Estrella, DOM

Nicholas Monroe, USA and Gregory Ouellette, USA
Javier Herrera-Equiluz, MEX and Daniel Kosakowski, USA

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PRESS RELEASE: Venus Joins Serena On WTT Champion Washington Kastles

Press Release

CONTACT: Jack Deschauer
(202) 683-3134 (office)
(703) 298-5348 (cell)


World #1 Ranked Serena Williams and World #5 Ranked Venus Williams Join Forces to Defend Washington Kastles’ 2009 World TeamTennis Championship; Kastles Roster Now Holds a Total of 61 Grand Slam Championships

WASHINGTON – February 11, 2010 – The Washington Kastles, the 2009 World TeamTennis Champions, are proud to announce that for the third consecutive season, world #1 ranked Serena Williams will lead the Kastles after protecting her rights and selecting her earlier today in the league’s Marquee Player Draft. In a move to bolster their 2010 title hopes, the Kastles, in a trade with the Philadelphia Freedoms, added Venus Williams to the squad. Serena will play four matches for the Kastles and Venus will play three.

Serena has played in front of sell-out crowds in her two prior trips to Kastles Stadium for the 2008 and 2009 WTT seasons. This summer, she will make one home appearance at Kastles Stadium, as will Venus for a different match.

Serena is the defending Wimbledon singles and women’s doubles champion and two-time defending Australian Open singles champion. Coming off her 2010 Australian Open championships in singles and women’s doubles, Williams now has 25 career Grand Slam titles, 12 in singles, 11 in women’s doubles and two in mixed doubles. Williams’ 12 Grand Slam singles titles tie her with American legend Billie Jean King for sixth all-time. She holds more Grand Slam titles than any other active female player and has won more prize money than any woman in the history of professional sports.

Venus has won 20 career Grand Slam titles, including five Wimbledon singles titles. She is the reigning Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open women’s doubles champion and holds a total of seven Grand Slam titles in singles, 11 in women's doubles and two in mixed doubles. She also has won three Olympic gold medals, one in singles and two in women's doubles.

With the addition of Venus, the Kastles roster now has a total of 61 Grand Slam titles including 19 women’s singles, 26 women’s doubles, six men’s doubles and 10 mixed doubles championships.

"I'm looking forward to returning to Washington, DC this summer and helping my Kastles teammates defend our WTT Championship title,” said Serena about her return to the nation’s capital. “There's something special about playing in the middle of downtown DC in that setting with the great support of our fans."

During the July 5 - 25 season, the Williams sisters and the Kastles will welcome opponents John McEnroe, who returns with their Eastern Conference rivals, the New York Sportimes, in a rematch of last season’s now infamous and hotly contested battle, and Anna Kournikova and the St. Louis Aces. Martina Hingis, making her return to professional tennis, will likely come to DC when another Eastern Conference foe, the New York Buzz, takes on the Kastles.

“The historic opportunity to have both Serena and Venus on our team is a thrill, both for the success of our team and for our fans, whose support has been so integral to our success,” said team owner Mark Ein. “They are the epitome of what is great about the sport of tennis and will lead an unprecedented collection of talent for us on the court in 2010.”

“It takes world-class talent to win championships and there are no more accomplished athletes than Serena and Venus,” said Kastles head coach Murphy Jensen, who guided the squad to the 2009 title in his first season coaching in the WTT Pro League. “Last summer was truly a dream season for us, and come July 5, the dream continues in D.C.”

The rest of the 2010 Kastles roster will be determined during the March 16 WTT Pro League Roster Draft.

“The hardest thing about winning our first title will be defending it, because everyone will be gunning for us,” continued Ein. “We want to keep the King Trophy right here in D.C. and in order to accomplish that, we’re going to put the most talented team possible on the court every single match, home and away.”

The Kastles are entering their third WTT season. In 2009, the Kastles earned the franchise’s first playoff berth before defeating their heated rivals, the Sportimes, at home in the Eastern Conference Finals. In an epic final, before a capacity Kastles Stadium crowd, the Kastles rallied from down three championship points to triumph over the Springfield Lasers 23-20 to win their first King Trophy.

Great season ticket packages can be purchased by visiting www.washingtonkastles.com or by calling 202-4TENNIS. You can also follow the Kastles on Facebook at facebook.com/washkastles and on Twitter at twitter.com/WashKastles.

# # #

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PRESS RELEASE: Al Green To Swear In New Board Members Of Rancho Cienega Tennis Club

Press Release

Media Contact:
Jasmyne Cannick
(323) 839-0216

Singer Al Green to Swear In New Board Members of
Rancho Cienega Tennis Club
Annual Blue Grey Tournament

Rancho Cienega Tennis Club
Largest African-American Tennis Club
on West Coast Since 1957

WHO: Al Green, Rancho Cienega Tennis Club, largest African-American tennis club on West Coast since 1957

WHAT: Annual Blue Grey Tennis Tournament

WHEN: Saturday, February 27, 2010, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Swearing In Ceremony 12 p.m.

WHERE: Arthur Ashe Tennis Center, 5001 Rodeo Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016

LOS ANGELES, CA - Singer Al Green will swear in the new board members of the Rancho Cienega Tennis Club during their annual Blue Grey Tennis Tournament taking place Sat. Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Center located at 5001 South Rodeo Blvd. in Los Angeles. With over 300 members, the Rancho Cienega Tennis Club has been the home of Blacks who love tennis in Los Angeles since 1957. The Blue Grey Tournament is the club's annual membership drive tennis tournament that encourages people of all skill levels who enjoy the sport of tennis to partner up with someone new. A fun tournament engages both high and low tennis players for an afternoon of fun and good sportsmanship. Annual membership dues for the club are $20 and can be made in person on Saturday or online at www.ranchotennisclub.org. Saturday's tournament is free and open to the public attend.

"As members of the Rancho Cienega Tennis Club, we show the community how much we appreciate tennis in our neighborhood and follow in a rich tradition of African-American tennis players in Los Angeles," explained board president Winston Brooks.

The incoming board officers and members of the Rancho Cienega Tennis Club are: Winston Brooks, President, Dottie Bly, Vice President, Charles Thomas, Secretary, Phylis Douglas, Recording Secretary, Eddie Anderson, Corresponding Secretary, Vanessa Paul, Member, Jasmyne Cannick, Member, Marion Lenoir, Member, Denise Self, Member, Lanrae Lawal, Member, and Phyliss Taylor, Member.


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PRESS RELEASE: MSG Plus And ESPN2 To Televise The BNP Paribas Showdown

Press Release


Ana Ivanovic Faces Kim Clijsters
Venus Williams Takes On Svetlana Kuznetsova
at MSG

New York, NY, February 22, 2010
– Madison Square Garden and StarGames announced today that MSG Plus and ESPN2 will televise the 2010 BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean Cup on Monday, March 1, live with MSG Plus showing the semifinals and ESPN2 presenting the finals. The one-day, single-elimination tournament will include four of the world’s top female tennis players – Svetlana Kuznetova, Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic – at Madison Square Garden.

Starting at 7:00 p.m. ET, MSG Plus will televise two semifinal matches with World No. 17 Clijsters facing No. 23 Ivanovic and No. 4 Kuznetsova taking on No. 5 Williams. At 9:00 p.m. ESPN 2 will air the final match. All three matches will also be available on broadband ESPN360.com.

“It is exciting for us to have the BNP Paribas Showdown carried live by two prestigious networks,” said Jerry Solomon, President & CEO, StarGames Inc. “The combination of MSG Plus and ESPN2 gives us wall-to-wall coverage and ensures that fans all over the country who are celebrating Tennis Night in America with us, will have the opportunity to see these great players square off for the Billie Jean King Cup.”

For the second year in a row, the BNP Paribas Showdown will feature four of the top women in tennis. The four participants have a combined career record of 1630-493 and have won a total of 12 Grand Slams and 98 WTA titles. Three of the four women have been ranked No. 1 at least once in their careers; Kuznetsova reached the No. 2 ranking in 2007.

Both MSG Plus and ESPN2 will showcase leading on-air commentators during the event. One of the most respected broadcasters in sports, Ted Robinson, will call play-by play for the semifinals while former World No. 1 player and three-time Grand Slam winner, Lindsay Davenport, will serve as analyst. MSG’s Scott Lasky will handle reporter duties for the semifinal matches. ESPN2’s coverage of the final will feature two prominent tennis commentators: Chris Fowler, host of the network’s coverage of all four Grand Slam events, alongside seven-time WTA Tour winner Mary Joe Fernandez.

The BNP Paribas Showdown features a unique set of rules. The semifinal matches will consist of only one set while the final match will be best of three. There will be no ad scoring in either round. The four participants will compete for a $1.2 million prize pool.

The “BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup” is the featured element of the national “Tennis Night in America” promotion. Through “Tennis Night in America”, the USTA will continue its efforts to grow youth participation in the sport of tennis. “Tennis Night in America” is among the sports largest ever grass roots initiatives. The USTA has made this event a major component for its Youth Registration Night, where youth from all over the country can begin signing up for spring and summer league play beginning on Friday, February 26th through March 1st. To find a sign-up location please go to www.tennisnight.com.

Title partner BNP Paribas has returned for a second year, continuing their strong commitment to support the sport of tennis. BNP Paribas will be joined by Official Partners Caesars Atlantic City, Delta Air Lines, FIJI Water, Fila, FXDD, Jumeirah Essex House, Lexus, NASDAQ OMX, Optimum, Rums of Puerto Rico, Sportime Tennis Clubs, Steuben Glass, Tennis.com, Travelers Insurance, Ubisoft and Wilson.

At the 2009 event, Venus Williams defeated Jelena Jankovic and Serena Williams defeated Ana Ivanovic in the semifinal matches. Serena then defeated her sister 6-4, 6-3 for the inaugural championship.

Serena Williams, the Billie Jean King Cup’s defending champion, has withdrawn from the upcoming BNP Paribas Showdown, scheduled for Monday, March 1, 2010 at Madison Square Garden, it was announced today.

Williams, who qualified for the Showdown based on her 2009 victories at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, has withdrawn due to a leg injury sustained during her recent run to the Australian Open Championships. This injury has also forced Williams out of WTA events in Paris and Dubai.

Former French Open Champion, Ana Ivanovic has been added to round out the field. Only current and former Grand Slam champions or year ending World No. 1 ranked players are eligible for the one night event.

"I'm very disappointed I won't be able to compete in the Billie Jean King Cup this year,” said Williams. “I loved playing in this event last year and was really looking forward to returning to New York and Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately I am still recovering from my leg injury in Australia and am not quite ready to compete at the highest level. I wish the event a great success and look forward to seeing my fans in New York in the fall."

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Fellow Frenchman Benneteau Stops Tsonga's Title Defense In Marseille

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Julien Benneteau at Open 13

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
(Photos by AP)

Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Julien Benneteau at Open 13MARSEILLE, France (AFP) — Frenchman Julien Benneteau will seek to win the first tournament of his career on Sunday after beating second seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals of the Open 13 tournament here.

Eighth-seeded Benneteau beat his compatriot Tsonga 7-6 (13/11), 5-7, 7-6 (7/3) in a fiercely contested 2hr 57min match on Saturday.

He will now face compatriot Michael Llodra, who prevailed 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) over German Mischa Zverev.

Benneteau, who defeated world number one Roger Federer at the Paris Masters in November, will contest the fourth final of his career at the age of 28.

Defending champion Tsonga broke first in the opening set but Benneteau fought back to take it to a tie-break that he eventually won after a titanic tussle.

Tsonga levelled things up by winning the second set, battling back from 5-3 down to cancel out Benneteau's advantage, but the world number 39 refused to be cowed and sewed up victory in a tense deciding tie-break.

"Julien has really improved," said Tsonga, the world number nine.

"He makes fewer errors with his forehand. He deserves a first victory."

"It was a great match, an intense battle," enthused Benneteau. "I was afraid because I was leading 5-3 in the second set and I couldn't see it out.

"But I'm proud to have held on until the end. I'm not going to put crazy pressure on myself to win my first tournament though.

"I have to build on what I did here, where've I've gone after matches against players ranked higher than me."

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Serena Withdraws From Billie Jean King Cup Exhibition

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams Withdraws From Billie Jean King Cup ExhibitionNEW YORK — Serena Williams has pulled out of an exhibition at Madison Square Garden because of a left leg injury.

Williams announced her withdrawal from the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup on Thursday. She'll be replaced in the four-player field by former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.

The 12-time Grand Slam singles champion was to face Kim Clijsters on March 1.

The leg injury has forced Williams to miss tournaments in Paris and Dubai.

Williams' sister, Venus, will play Svetlana Kuznetsova in the other semifinal at the one-night event in New York.

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Venus Defends Dubai And Earns 42nd Title

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalVenus Williams, USA (Photos by Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalDUBAI (AFP) — Venus Williams became the most successful active woman player on the WTA Tour when she secured her 42nd title by successfully defending the Dubai Open here on Saturday.

Williams, who beat Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 in an absorbing final, thus overtook Justine Henin's record of 41 titles, only two months after achieving another notable statistic -- a career total of 25 million dollars in prize money.

She and her sister Serena are the only two women to have achieved this feat, but both Venus's resilient performance and her optimistic words suggested that further remarkable statistics are in the pipeline.

Asked if she now hoped to add to her tally of Grand Slam titles, the five-time Wimbledon champion replied: "Absolutely. I am so happy to have added to my collection here. And I am keen to keep adding every time."

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalVenus also made reference to the diplomatic success of a tournament which accommodated the first Israeli woman, Shahar Peer, ever to compete in the United Arab Emirates.

"It was a great tournament to have everyone included," she said.

Later she added: "Obviously we had issues with everyone getting included," referring to the refusal of Peer's UAE visa in 2009. "But this year it was great to show a spirit of inclusion and equality."

Venus went on: "I definitely think her playing has an influence on things outside the tennis. We need government to do the right thing like they did here and people of courage to come here and play, to play so well with focus."

Venus felt her good form was in significant measure due to having found a way of managing her long-lasting fitness problems, especially with a knee, and she delighted, she said, in being able to throw away the bandages she had to wear for much of last year.

The match was full of noisily powerful rallies -- Azarenka usually trying to work an initiative, Venus more likely to win the rally with one blow, Azarenka accompanying everything with a loud coo, Venus with an ominous roar.

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalThe first set hinged on the pressure Venus placed on her opponent's second serves, which brought an Azarenka double fault on game point at 2-3 -- though it required Venus to make a successful appeal to Hawkeye to prove that the second serve was too long.

Having closed out the first set, Venus's momentum accelerated. She struck the ball with even more confidence, broke again immediately, and the feeling of the contest changed dramatically as she hurtled to 3-1.

However, as against Anastasia Pavluchenkova and Shahar Peer, Venus's serve wobbled a little with the end in sight. A creaky double fault at 3-2 gave Azarenka a break back point, and a moderate second serve allowed the fourth seed to make a return which converted that chance immediately.

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalBut Venus broke again for 6-5, courtesy of an ill-timed foray to the net by the 20-year-old Azarenka, and closed out the match in the next game at the third attempt.

"I'm definitely starting to feel better," Venus concluded.

"It's been a learning curve in managing the playing and keep the swelling (of the knee) down. I don't usually talk about my injuries this much, but I am excited about what is happening."

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