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Tsonga And Venus Keep It Moving In Miami

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France and Venus Williams, USA
(Photos by Getty Images)


Venus Williams continues to tear up the Sony Ericsson Open WTA Tour, eclipsing sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-1 Tuesday to race into the semi-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open. Williams improved to an 18-1 match record on the season, and is closing on her third consecutive title, following earlier victories in Dubai and Acapulco.

In the semi-finals Williams will play 13th seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli.

Despite coming into the Sony Ericsson Open after a month’s layoff, Williams showed that conditioning was not an issue, finding her best form one day after grinding out a tough three-set win over Daniela Hantuchova. In that match she lost eight of the first nine games before fighting back.

“[Today was] a little more straightforward. We had some kind of interesting times in the first set where we traded breaks. Getting through a match like yesterday makes me more confident because it wasn't exactly my best game.

“Today I was kind of eager to clean up my act. We had some really good rallies and really good points, but I just see me keep coming out on top, so of course I like that.”

Williams, at 29 the oldest remaining player in the draw, will next play the winner of former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli and 12th-seeded Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.

Williams won three Sony Ericsson Open titles (1998, '99 and 2001) in a four-year period as part of a 22-match winning streak that was halted by sister Serena in 2002. Williams, who did not play the tournament in 2000, has not been to the final since her 2001 title run.

Eighth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga needed just 59 minutes to overpower Spanish former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-2, 6-2, as he dropped just four points on his first serve en route to the quarter-finals for the second straight year.

The Frenchman, who fell to Novak Djokovic in the last eight of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournament last year, broke serve five times and surrendered just four points behind his first serve to record his second victory over the 12th-seeded Ferrero.

The 24-year-old Tsonga, who won his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Paris two years ago, improved to a 14-5 mark on the season, highlighted by semi-final efforts at the Australian Open (l. to Federer) and the Open 13 (l. to Benneteau) in Marseille.


Source: sonyericssonopen.com


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Venus Williams To Be Awarded First Annual Caesars Tennis Classic Achievement Award

Press Release



Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams To Host Caesars Tennis ClassicAtlantic City (March 30, 2010) - Harrah's Entertainment, Caesars Atlantic City and StarGames announced today that Caesars Tennis Classic host Venus Williams will receive the first annual Caesars Tennis Classic Achievement Award during the exhibition event on Saturday, April 10, 2010 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The award recognizes a tennis personality that has contributed above and beyond their play both on and off the court. In addition to her stellar play on the court as one of the top women players in the world (she advanced to the quarterfinals of this week's Sony Ericsson Championship in Miami yesterday), Williams continues to be a great ambassador of the sport working with the UNICEF, the USTA, the WTA and the Women's Sports Foundation to promote the game and give back to different communities throughout the world. Don Marrandino, the President of the Eastern Division of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. will present the award to her on behalf of the inaugural Caesars Tennis Classic.

The highly anticipated Caesars Tennis Classic, hosted by Williams, will feature tennis greats of past and present including Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Mats Wilander and Marat Safin in a one night tennis spectacular at the newly renovated Boardwalk Hall. In addition to the Classic, Caesars will host pre and post-tournament events including the must see Tennis Village in the Palladium Ballroom at Caesars with appearances by the tennis greats. Detailed information regarding the Caesars Tennis Classic can be found at www.CaesarsTennisClassic.com.


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Venus Toils To Quarterfinals In Miami

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Daniela Hantuchova 2010 Sony Ericsson OpenVenus Williams, USA
(Photos by Getty Images)


Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Daniela Hantuchova 2010 Sony Ericsson OpenMonday evening in Miami at the Sony Ericsson Open, it appeared that Slovak Daniela Hantuchova was headed toward having beat down bragging rights over American Venus Williams after taking the first set 6-1. Hantuchova was pumped and moving the match along quickly as she continued to play well into the second set.

Venus, being the phoenix that she is, would not be kept down, but definitely had work to do. She steadily improved her game and played with greater focus the longer the match went on. The third set break over Hantuchova that put Venus up 5-4 and virtually sealed the match, was followed in the final game by an eventual three match points for Venus. The final score was 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Post match Venus said, “I haven’t seen her play so well in a long time. Obviously I needed to do something and when times get tough I hit harder. It’s just me. It’s natural for me.”

"Days like this you just have to figure out a way to win the point, even if it's not pretty. I enjoy that battle. ... When it counts and times get tough, I always feel confident that I'm going to find a way to win the point."

Holding up the red, white and blue all by her lonesome, Venus will next meet Poland's Agnieszka Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams at 2010 Sony Ericsson OpenRadwanska in the quarterfinal round.

Serena sat in the stands and cheered her big sister on, as she had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.


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Tsonga Sets Up Fourth Round Meeting With Juan Carlos Ferrero

Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber 2010 Sony Ericsson OpenJo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
(Photo by Getty Images)


Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber 2010 Sony Ericsson OpenIn a very impressive display, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga showcased his serving and shot-making ability against opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany at the Sony Ericsson Open on Sunday.

After a seriously lackluster performance in the first set, Kohlschreiber made it a more competitive match in the second set; though nothing he did could bring a halt to the barrage of aces and powerful shots from Tsonga.

Tsonga inevitably won the match 6-2, 7-5.

Next up for the Frenchman in fourth round action on Tuesday is Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero.


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ATP World Tour: MaliVai Washington Receives 2009 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Of The Year Award

Monday, March 29, 2010

Former ATP pro MaliVai Washington, who has run the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation that has promoted academic achievement and positive life skills to youth through the game of tennis since 1994, admitted “it was a great honour” to receive the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Of The Year award for 2009 at the Sony Ericsson Open.

I didn’t expect to receive the award. It was very humbling [at the presentation ceremony] and provides recognition to the foundation’s staff and volunteers for all their efforts and financial assistance over the years.”

During a decade-long pro career, between 1990 and 1999, former World No. 11 Washington reached the 1996 final (l. to Krajicek), captured four ATP World Tour singles titles and represented the United States at the 1996 Olympic Games and in three Davis Cup ties.

“I was one of the fortunate few to play pro tennis. It was a great pleasure and a great ride. I loved representing my country and I met some great people. The sport has and continues to open doors for me.”

But for Washington, “playing tennis was more than hitting a ball.”

Visit the Foundation's Website

Inspired by the impact his father, William, had on young children from difficult backgrounds, long before he handed his son his first tennis racquet aged five, Washington’s passion was fuelled by talking to under-privileged children early in his tennis career.

“In the first few years when I was on tour, my father and I often had people come up to us asking if we could talk to small groups and big organisations looking for small amounts – like $1,000 – in cities around the United States,” he said.

“At first I was the fundraiser, writing the cheques out. But in 1997, when I was sidelined with a left knee injury, I found I had more time to build our own programs in Jacksonville [Florida] and build as an organisation.

“We have seen kids in the foundation undergo 180-degree transformations. Having got into fights in school they have gone on to receive scholarships and college education. Every student has potential; we have helped to bring it out.”

The MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation has since helped over 20,000 children in north-east Florida. Currently supporting around 150 children, the flagship Tennis-n-Tutoring program is an after-school youth development program that offers free homework assistance, tennis lessons and life skills classes.

In May 2008, assisted by financial help from Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, the ATP and members of the tennis family, a 9,000-square-foot youth centre inclusive of eight tennis courts was opened in Jacksonville.

“Within the next 12 months the facility will be at capacity,” said Washington, who admits the foundation will be discussing this year whether it is viable to duplicate the program in other parts of town.

“In 10 years we’ll still be growing and will be offering support to children in Jacksonville. But if we are to expand into different towns our partners will have to be just as passionate, because anything we do, we want to do well.”

Washington had no significant weaknesses and an unflappable demeanor as a pro tennis player, always taking “the good with the bad” during an injury-plagued end to his career.

“I loved playing the Wimbledon final, but my goal was to win the title,” he admitted. “I had hoped to play a couple more years, to return to Wimbledon, but my left knee injury prevented me from doing so.

“In retrospect, my injury allowed me to grow the foundation, to bring it to Jacksonville and it has developed tremendously. I am a big believer that there is a plan for all of us.”


Photo by Getty Images


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Around The Net... Venus And Serena At The Sony Ericsson Open

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Venus and Serena Williams Win WTA Player AwardsVenus and Serena Williams
(Photos by Getty Images)

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announced the 2009 winners of the annual Player Awards during a special ceremony Wednesday at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. Seven players were honored for their remarkable on and off court achievements during the 2009 season.

Serena Williams was voted the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s 2009 Player of the Year for the third time in her career, having previously earned the accolade for the 2002 and 2008 seasons. Serena had a stellar 2009 season, winning two Grand Slam singles titles (the Australian Open and Wimbledon), the prestigious year-end Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, and reaching the final of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

Additionally, she was a semifinalist at five more Tour events and recorded 14 wins over Top 10 opponents during the season. Williams finished 2009 as the top ranked singles player in the world, marking the fifth time in her career that she ascended to the pinnacle of the rankings.

Serena and Venus Williams won the Doubles Team of the Year award for their collective achievements in 2009, highlighted by winning four titles which included three Grand Slams (the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) and the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford. The pair ended the year with a 24-2 win-loss record.

“2009 was one of the best seasons of my career and winning the Player of the Year award for the third time is a great achievement for me,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour World No.1 Serena Williams. “2009 will always be memorable for me not just for my singles accomplishments, but because Venus and I won four titles together and I am thrilled to be sharing the Doubles Team of the Year award with my sister.”

“I love playing doubles with Serena as we have so much fun on the court together,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour World No.5 Venus Williams. “At the beginning of the 2009 season Serena and I decided to put a lot of emphasis on doubles and I am thrilled that we were able to achieve so much together.”

Black Tennis Pro's Venus and Serena Williams pose with other WTA player award recipients.L-R) Elena Dementieva, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Yanina Wickmayer, Kim Clijsters and Liezel Huber

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams poses with WTA player of the year awardBlack Tennis Pro's Venus Williams at Sony Ericsson Open Press ConferenceVenus speaks to media at press conference

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams poses with the WTA players councilVenus and the WTA Players Council pose for a photo at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 22, 2010 in Key Biscayne, Florida.


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(PHOTOS) 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Kick-Off Party

Tennis players and other celebs got together for the Sony Ericsson Open Kick-Off Party at LIV Nightclub at Fontainebleau Miami on March 23, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida.


American Venus Williams and singer Jay Sean

Feliciano Lopez, Spain

Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark

Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieska Radwanska

Music Producer Pharrell Williams

Serena Williams, USA

Agnieska and Urszula Radwanska

Singer Mel B and husband Stephen Belafonte

Singing group LMFAO

Jelena Jankovic, Serbia

Galina Voskoboeva, Russia

Andy Murray, Great Britain

Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia

Al Reynolds


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(PHOTOS) Glam.Set.Match! Mel B And Jay Sean Play Sony Ericsson Open Celebrity Exhibition Match

Black Tennis Pro's Sony Ericsson Open Glam.Set.Match - Mel BMel B joined singer Jay Sean and tennis pros Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic for the kickoff event of the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open, 'Glam.Set.Match!'
(Photos by Getty Images)

Black Tennis Pro's Sony Ericsson Open Glam.Set.Match - Jay SeanSinger Jay Sean

Black Tennis Pro's Sony Ericsson Open Glam.Set.Match - Mel B and Ana IvanovicAna Ivanovic and Mel B

Black Tennis Pro's Sony Ericsson Open Glam.Set.Match - Mel BBlack Tennis Pro's Sony Ericsson Open Glam.Set.Match - Benji BBenji B

Black Tennis Pro's Sony Ericsson Open Glam.Set.Match - Mel B, Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic and Jay Sean(L-R) Ana Ivanovic, Jay Sean, Mel B and Novak Djokovic

Black Tennis Pro's Sony Ericsson Open Glam.Set.Match - Novak Djokovic and Jay SeanBlack Tennis Pro's Sony Ericsson Open Glam.Set.Match - Jay Sean and Ana IvanovicBlack Tennis Pro's Sony Ericsson Open Glam.Set.Match - Mel B


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WAPO: Hingis, Venus Williams Match Highlights The 2010 Washington Kastles Schedule

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Washington Kastles's home schedule this season will feature uncommon star wattage, including a match between former world No. 1 players Venus Williams and Martina Hingis, who faced off for the 1997 U.S. Open title, clashing for the first time since 2006.

Venus was added to the roster of the defending World TeamTennis champion Kastles in the offseason, joining sister Serena, who has played for Washington's franchise its first two years.

As the Kastles' designated "marquee players," the Williams sisters make just one home appearance, each on different nights.

Venus will lead the Kastles against Hingis and the New York Buzz in a home match on July 7 and play for the squad the next night in Philadelphia.

Serena will join the Kastles at home for a July 14 match against the Kansas City Explorers and play three matches on the road.

Anchored by the strong doubles play of Leander Paes and Rennae Stubbs, the Kastles won the World TeamTennis championship in their second season last year.

Team owner Mark Ein re-signed Paes, ranked sixth in the world in doubles, and Stubbs, ranked 7th in doubles, along with current world No. 1 Serena Williams. To round out the roster, Ein traded for the No. 1 pick in Tuesday's draft. The Kastles used that pick to select Bobby Reynolds, who ranked as high as 63rd in the world in 2009, to shoulder the men's singles duties. Ein also acquired the rights to Angela Haynes from Sacramento.

All told, Kastles players have won 61 Grand Slam event titles among them.

The Kastles will play seven away matches and seven at home from July 5 through July 22, with John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova as the headliners scheduled to visit Washington.


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Serena Joins Dinara and Maria Pulling Out Of The Sony Ericsson Open

MIAMI (Reuters) - World number one Serena Williams has pulled out of next week's Sony Ericsson Open due to a knee injury, organizers said on Friday.

The American's withdrawal is another blow to the tournament after former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova and world number two Dinara Safina had already pulled out.

Williams has won the Key Biscayne event five times.

Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova headline the women's field while the men's top three -- Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are joined by American Andy Roddick and defending champion Andy Murray.

The men's competition will be without fifth-ranked Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina due to a wrist injury.


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WTA Tour's Contract Extension With Sony Ericsson Drops Title Sponsorship Rights

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The WTA Tour has reached a contract extension with Sony Ericsson that continues their relationship through the end of 2012 but drops the mobile phone company as a title sponsor of the women's tennis tour.

In 2005, Sony Ericsson became the global title sponsor for the WTA Tour under a US $88-million, six-year deal due to expire at the end of 2010. Now the circuit's name will just be "WTA Tour."

Sony Ericsson also no longer will have the title rights for the tour's season-ending championships.

Financial terms of the extension were not announced, but the tour said the "net profitability" will be the same as under the prior deal.

The new agreement is to be announced formally Monday.


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Sweet Sixteen! Sloane Stephens Earns First WTA Win

Friday, March 12, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Sloane Stephens BNP Paribas OpenSloane Stephens, one of two 16-year-olds in the BNP Paribas Open field, celebrated her first match on the WTA Tour with a 7-6 (5), 7-6 (7) triumph over Lucie Hradecka.

Stephens led 5-2 in the second set and had match point on serve in the ninth game, then had to rally from 3-6 down in the second-set tiebreaker.

"I wasn't getting nervous," Stephens said. "She started playing a lot more. Before, she was hitting a lot of balls off the court and I was waiting for the error. She made me play at the end."

Stephens said she'll remember hitting an ace down the middle of the court to get to 6-all in the second-set tiebreaker. She couldn't recall the final shot of the match, though, but said "it was a good moment."

Fellow American Shenay Perry didn't fare as well as Stephens, losing to Karolina Sprem 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

Black Tennis Pro's Shenay Perry BNP Paribas Open




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WTA, ATP And USTA Pro Circuit Tennis Action This Week

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ROUND 1

Women's Singles

(Q)Sloane Stephens, USA defeated Lucie Hradecka, CZE
7-6(5), 7-6(7)

(Q)Shenay Perry, USA defeated by Karolina Sprem, CRO
2-6, 6-4, 3-6

Doubles

Raquel Kops-Jones and Sarah Borwell, GBR
defeated
Anabel Medina Garrigues, ESP and Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
7-6(4), 4-6 [10-2]

Shenay Perry, USA and Melanie Oudin, USA
defeated by
Alisa Kleybanova, RUS and Francesca Schiavone, ITA
4-6, 5-7


Men's Singles

Gael Monfils, FRA vs. BYE

James Blake, USA defeated Daniel Gimeno-Traver, ESP
6-3, 6-2

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA vs. BYE

Doubles

James Blake, USA and Andy Roddick, USA
defeated
Ross Hutchins, GBR and Andy Murray, GBR
7-5, 7-6(5)

Gael Monfils, FRA and Gilles Simon, FRA
defeated by
David Ferrer, ESP and Albert Montanes, ESP
4-6, 2-6

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA and Julien Benneteau, FRA
defeated
Robert Lindstedt, SWE and Robin Soderling, SWE
7-5, 7-5

Eliminated during singles qualifying rounds:

Donald Young, USA
Dustin Brown, JAM


ROUND 2

Women's Singles

(Q)Sloan Stephens, USA defeated by Vera Zvonareva, RUS
4-6, 5-7

Doubles

Raquel Kops-Jones and Sarah Borwell, GBR
defeated by
Yung-Jan Chan, TPE and Jie Zheng, CHN
1-6, 2-6


MEN'S SINGLES

Gael Monfils, FRA defeated by Simon Gruel, GER
6-1, 2-6, 3-6

James Blake, USA defeated David Ferrer, ESP
6-1, 6-4

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA defeated Marinko Matosevic, AUS
6-1, 6-3

Doubles

James Blake, USA and Andy Roddick, USA
defeated by
Daniel Nestor, CAN and Nenad Zimonjic, SRB
4-6, 6-3 [7-10]

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA and Julien Benneteau, FRA
defeated by
Simon Aspelin, SWE and Paul Hanley, AUS
6-7(4), 3-6


ROUND 3

MEN'S SINGLES

James Blake, USA vs. Nicolas Almagro, ESP
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA vs. Albert Montanes, ESP


ROUND 1

Singles

Asia Muhammed, USA defeated Ahsha Rolle, USA
6-4, 6-3

Angela Haynes, USA defeated by Jing-Jing Lu, CHN
4-6, 2-6

Doubles

Asia Muhammed, USA and Courtney B. Dolehide, USA
defeated by
Christina Fusano, USA and Courtney Nagle, USA
4-6, 6-3 [3-10]

Megan Moulton-Levy and Yulia Fedossova, FRA
defeated by
Xinyun Han, CHN and Chun-Mei Ji, CHN
6-1, 1-6 [5-10]

Angela Haynes, USA and Ahsha Rolle, USA
defeated
Corinna Dentoni, ITA and Anna Tatishvili, GEO
6-1, 6-4


Eliminated during singles qualifying rounds:

Alexandra Stevenson, USA


ROUND 2

Singles

Asia Muhammed, USA defeated by Jing-Jing Lu, CHN
2-6, 4-6


QUARTERFINAL ROUND

Doubles

Angela Haynes, USA and Ahsha Rolle, USA
defeated by
Yi-Fan Xu, CHN and Yi-Miao Zhou, CHN
5-7, 6-3 [15-17]


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Sloane Stephens and Shenay Perry Qualify For BNP Paribas Open Main Draw

Black Tennis Pro's Sloane Stephens BNP Paribas Open Main DrawTwelve women, including Americans Shenay Perry and Sloane Stephens, booked their places in the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open after winning their second-round qualifying matches on Tuesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Perry went the distance against Chinese Taipei’s Chang Kai-Chen, withstanding 16 aces off her opponent’s racquet to earn a 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(2) win in two hours and 15 minutes. The 25-year-old Perry, currently ranked No. 103, will be making her fourth appearance in the main draw. She made her best showing in 2006, when she reached the third round before falling to Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic.

Sixteen-year-old Stephens, a wild card entry in the qualification draw, cruised past Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-1, 6-3. The 623rd-ranked Stephens is making her debut at the BNP Paribas Open. She enjoyed success in juniors last year, reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros and the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.


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(NTDWT) Former Sprinter Marion Jones Signs With WNBA's Tulsa Shock... Interesting

Black Tennis Pro's Marion Jones signs with Tulsa ShockFormer sprinter Marion Jones smiles while flanked by Tulsa Shock president Steve Swetoha, , left, and coach Nolan Richardson during a news conference announcing her signing with WNBA basketball Tulsa Shock on Wednesday, March 10, 2010, in Tulsa, Okla.
(Photo by AP)


TULSA, Okla. (AP)—Marion Jones hasn’t lost much of her swagger.

The disgraced sprinter once called the world’s fastest woman was introduced Wednesday as the newest member of the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock and she offered no apologies for her steroids use or her time in federal prison. She was poised and ready for questions about her troubled past.

“The word redemption is not in my vocabulary,” Jones said at a news conference, flanked by team president Steve Swetoha and coach Nolan Richardson. “I’m a competitor, I want to play against the best in the world, and I know that I will be doing that.”

Her bid for a new career comes a decade after she starred at the Sydney Olympics, winning gold in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 1,600-meter relay, and bronze in the long jump and 400-meter relay. She was stripped of all five medals after admitting in 2007 that she was using performance-enhancing drugs—a designer steroid called the “clear”—at the time of the games.

Jones also spent about six months in a Texas prison for lying to federal prosecutors about doping and her role in a check-fraud scam.

The 34-year-old Jones joined the team just four days after working out for Richardson, who is also the team’s general manager. She was signed to at least a one-year contract but terms were not disclosed.

Jones was the starting point guard on North Carolina’s national championship team in 1994 and she was drafted by Phoenix in 2003 but never played in the WNBA.

“I think when I even started to think about this 10 months ago, I know how much the game has grown from the time that I played,” Jones said. “And that became even more of a challenge for me, because I know that although I know certain things and played a certain way, that it’s 10 times faster, that the athletes are 10 times more skilled.”

WNBA president Donna Orender, who attended the news conference, said Jones generates interest in the league because she’s a highly accomplished athlete who has competed on a global stage.

“This is a tremendous, real-life story of a person who made a choice that was not a wise choice, but is saying listen, ‘I’m going to be a role model, I’m going to showcase what I’m going to do with the rest of my life,”’ Orender told The Associated Press. “I join the rest of America in wanting to watch this story unfold.”

Jones will join a team that is a work in progress. All-Stars Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith had agreed to contract extensions, but apparently won’t play for Tulsa when the season begins in May.

Richardson said Nolan has indicated she intends to skip the upcoming season to rest instead of relocating with the team, which moved from Detroit in the offseason. And Smith, a six-time All-Star, has already said she doesn’t plan to play in Tulsa and is listed as a free agent by the league.

Also unknown is how much of an initial draw the city’s only major pro sports team will be. Tulsa County has a population of about 592,000 and Tulsa is the second-smallest city with a WNBA franchise, behind Uncasville, Conn.,—where the Sun play in a casino that draws millions of visitors per year.

“She made some ill-advised decisions in the past, but everyone deserves a second chance to excel at something they love,” Swetoha said. “The city of Tulsa gave a struggling franchise from Detroit a second chance, and I’m confident it will do the same for Marion. We couldn’t be happier to have her on board.”

The Shock will play at 18,000-seat BOK Center downtown. The franchise itself has a great pedigree: The Shock made their WNBA debut in 1998 and won titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008.

Richardson, who led Arkansas to the men’s NCAA championship the same year Jones won the title at North Carolina, plans to play the same “40 Minutes of Hell” style in the WNBA.

“Watching her go through drills, I saw a player who’s perfect for our system,” Richardson said. “The one thing I do know is she can run, and any player on my team who wants to be successful needs be able to run.”


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(PHOTOS) Serena Circulates At The Oscars - Blake Spotted In Gift Lounge

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams at 2010 OscarsSerena Williams makes a lovely appearance as she arrives at the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter held at Sunset Tower on March 7, 2010 in West Hollywood, California.
(Photos by Wireimage)

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams at 2010 Oscars with sister LynnSerena and her sister Lynn, who is looking a lot like Venus in this photo.

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams at 2010 Oscars with Miley Cyrus and Liam HemsworthSerena, Actor Liam Hemsworth and Singer/Actress Miley Cyrus attend the 18th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party at Pacific Design Center on March 7, 2010 in West Hollywood, California.

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams at 2010 Oscars with GodivaSerena Williams with Godiva

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams at 2010 Oscars with Oscar recipient Geoffrey FletcherSerena and Geoffrey Fletcher, who made history by becoming the first African American to win a writing award. Fletcher took home the gold statue for adapted screenplay for "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams at 2010 Oscars with 2007 Oscar recipient Jennifer HudsonSerena and 2007 Best Supporting Actress Oscar recipient Jennifer Hudson.

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams at 2010 Oscars with Brett RatnerSerena and ex-beau, Director Brett Ratner

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams at 2010 Oscars with Russel Brand and Katy PerrySerena with Russell Brand and Singer Katy Perry.

Black Tennis Pro's James Blake in Oscar celebration gifting suiteJames Blake attended the GBK and HealthyTrim.com Luxury Gift Lounge Celebrating Oscars Week - Day 1 at W Hollywood on March 5, 2010 in Hollywood, California.


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