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2012 US OPEN: 16-Year-Old Duval Loses To Clijsters And Says, "...I felt like the luckiest 16-year-old ever..."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Victoria Duval of Miami, Florida during 2012 US Open first round.

It is always gratifying to witness the inception of a career when a player experiences that first tour level match, especially when that match occurs at one of the four majors that comprise the Grand Slam. In this case the 2012 US Open.

Sixteen-year-old Haitian-American Victoria Duval was afforded just such an opportunity on Monday night when she played her first WTA Tour match against veteran and second-time-retiring Kim Clijsters of Belgium.

Duval recently won the singles title at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships, giving her a wild-card entry to the US Open. Though born in Miami, Florida, Duval spent most of her first eight years in Haiti with her parents, including time training at the JOTAC Tennis Academy in Port-au-Prince. Her father, Jean-Maurice Duval, a doctor in Port-au-Prince, was injured in Haiti's 2010 devestating earthquake.

The 16-year-old began the first round match against Clijsters fearlessly. She seemed so delighted whenever she won a point and the crowd applauded her effort. She would look up into the stands and smile at what seemed to be incredible moments.

Though Duval lost the match 6-3, 6-1, the talent that brought her to this moment was obvious.

After the match Duval continued to delight during her interview.

"She asked me for a photograph for her memories, but I'm the one who should have been asking for a photo for my memories," Duval said.

"She's been my idol. I felt like the luckiest 16-year-old ever. I was really nervous, I was freaking out. I was so excited I can't even explain."

Clijsters said the tender years of her opponent reminded her of playing Steffi Graf at Wimbledon as a 16-year-old.

"It's been a very long time," Clijsters said. "I obviously wasn't in that position where I played my first-ever match on tour in such a big stadium.

"I played Steffi at Wimbledon and she was my big idol so it kind of takes you back through a lot of emotions and memories.

"We spoke a bit after the match. She was really sweet. She's a very nice girl."

Photos by: Getty Images

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PERSPECTIVES FROM SAM'S PASSING SHOTS: Paint Serena Red, White, Blue... and Gold

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I don't know about you, but I have totally enjoyed the Olympic tennis tournament. I thought that having the Olympic tournament played at the All-England Club would add a touch of history to an already historic event and it completely lived up to everything I imagined it would be. The crowd was not the usual Wimbledon crowd. There was a bit more chatter between points, that at times gave it more of Flushing Meadows feel. It was with this backdrop that Serena Williams turned in one of the most remarkable performances of her career, and joined Steffi Graf as the only women to win all four grand slam events, and an Olympic gold medal.

 Throughout her career Wimbledon has been known as big sister, Venus', house. Let the record reflect that in the summer of 2012, little sister was holding the key. By winning Wimbledon last month and coming back to the same location to claim gold for the United States, Williams has firmly restored herself at the top player in the women's game again. Some may want to call this a comeback, I prefer to call it a rebirth.

 There's nothing like almost losing something to make you value, and treasure it even more. For Serena Williams it was an injury followed by illness that threatened both life and career. Faced with a simular situation, most of us would evaluate and take inventory of both success and failure. Then there are those glasses that we leave half empty, or would that be half full. No doubt Williams took inventory of her remarkable career and had time to reflect on some of those half full glasses.

 There is an old saying , " If only youth had wisdom." How many times have we seen professional athletes in the latter stages of their careers wishing for the vitality to go along with wisdom and knowledge that had been gathered along the way. At both Wimbledon and the Olympics, Serena Williams summoned the enthusiam of her youth to go with the wisdom of her 30 years and the result was sheer dominance.

Serena Williams triumph over Maria Sharapova lasted 1 hour and 3 minutes, and maybe it's fitting for the sands in the hour glass are now fewer for Williams. She danced on the court after winning the gold medal at the Olympics, and all the while hearing the sound of a ticking clock. Maybe it's that ticking clock that now motivates Serena or could it be her sense of history, or perhaps it's those half full glasses from years gone by. It promises to be vintage Serena, and when it's done all glasses will be empty !!   New York City... You're Next !!!

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WIMBLEDON DAY 6: Serena Continues To Improve As She Eases Into 4th Round

Sunday, June 26, 2011

American Serena Williams reacts as she advances to the Round of 16 after win over Russian Maria Kirilenko

WIMBLEDON, England -- Serena Williams has been known to say she isn't satisfied with this or that aspect of her game, even after easily winning a match, say, 6-3, 6-2.

So it was somehow refreshing to hear Williams actually praise herself after a victory by that very score over 26th-seeded Maria Kirilenko at Wimbledon on Saturday.

Yes, only five matches since returning to the tour after nearly a full year off because of a series of health scares, Williams produced a performance worthy of the 13-time Grand Slam champion that she is. And then Williams talked the talk of someone finally ready to concede that British bookmakers might very well have been right to make her the pre-tournament favorite.

Asked whether she was surprised by the odds, the seventh-seeded American smiled widely and said: "I wouldn't bet against me."

After hitting 10 aces and compiling a 32-9 edge in winners against Kirilenko, Williams termed the showing her "best I've played since I came back."

"I was a little more consistent, and I played mygame more," said Williams, trying to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1991-93 to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles. "Wasn't as tight and nervous and uptight. I was able to relax more today."

She was part of a parade of past champions who breezed into the fourth round Saturday, joined by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova, who all were straight-set winners, too. Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, seeking her first Grand Slam title, and two-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, who is now 44-1 in 2011, also moved on.

Serena explained she'd been playing tentatively until Saturday.

"You're always thinking, 'I can get hurt again.' You just kind of have to let those thoughts go or anything could happen," Williams said. "And I wasn't thinking that at all today. It was just a big difference."

On Monday, she'll face 2007 runner-up Marion Bartoli. Other fourth-round women's matches include Williams' older sister Venus vs. No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova, who upset the five-time Wimbledon champion a year ago; Wozniacki vs. No. 24 Dominika Cibulkova; and Sharapova vs. No. 20 Peng Shuai.

After beating Kirilenko -- her first straight-set victory in five matches since returning -- Williams revealed another, if less serious, mishap from her annus horribilis: She scraped her right shoulder and face when she fell off her pink bicycle during a ride near her home in Florida in October.

"I'm thinking, 'Oh, nooooooo,"' Williams recounted, as though replaying her words in slow motion. "All I thought was, 'Don't fall on my face. Don't fall on my face.' When I fell on my face, I was like, 'No!"'
Since then, she's been sticking to stationary bikes.

Photos by Getty Images

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James Blake, Andre Agassi, Mardy Fish And Others Help Andy Roddick Celebrate His Nuptials

Sunday, April 19, 2009

(l-r) James Blake, Andy Roddick, Justin Gimelstob and Mardy Fish attend Andy Roddicks Wedding.

ATP World Tour No. 6 Andy Roddick became the second Top 10 player inside a week to tie the knot as he and fiancée, Brooklyn Decker, exchanged vows in a candlelit ceremony before close family and friends in Austin, Texas on Friday.

Last Saturday, World No. 2 Roger Federer wed his long-time girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec in his hometown of Basel.

Roddick and Decker were joined in their celebration by former and current American players, Andre Agassi – with wife Steffi Graf - , Justin Gimelstob, James Blake and Mardy Fish, while Sir Elton John – a good friend of Roddick and Agassi - flew in from Las Vegas to perform for the wedding party.

Photos by ATP

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