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Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum Recently Discovered Wimbledon's First Black Competitor, Jamaican Bertrand Milbourne Clark

Sunday, November 10, 2019

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EXCLUSIVE! Living Legend Richard Russell Of Jamaica Shares A Bit Of His History On And Off The Court, Occasionally Standing In For Friend Arthur Ashe

Monday, July 1, 2019

Jamaican Richard Russell (R) and American Arthur Ashe, Jr. (L)  (All media  property of Richard Russell)

Speaking with Richard Russell was sublimely gratifying. How I adored the peaceful pleasure emanating from that rich classic Jamaican accent. Given this conversation, I am so looking forward to doing it again.

Mr. Russell is a man of tremendous spirituality, inner peace and joy. He enjoys his life today with a tremendous depth of gratitude from all of his life experiences, with a special emphasis on his tennis journey. Some of his best times were spent with "look-a-like friend" Arthur Ashe, Jr.

He is a living legend and a member of the 2019 class of inductees into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame. Although he was unable to attend the induction ceremony, he is overjoyed and grateful for the induction.

Mr. Russell is the only Jamaican to qualify for and win matches at all Grand Slam Championships. He was the youngest national champion at age 16, a founding member of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and, in 1966 achieved the distinction of holding the record of winning a first round match at the Australian Open 6-0, 6-0, 6-0. He represented the Jamaican Davis Cup and had wins over Arthur Ashe and Charlie Pasarell.


How are you?  I so LOVED the photos that you shared with me that I had to speak with you.  Thank you, thank you, I am in good spirits.

So glad that you are being inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame. It's a big honor, thank you very much.  

What are your thoughts on the induction? A year ago I was being inducted into the Jamaican Hall of Fame (Jamaica Cup Hall of Fame) and I got a call around 6:30 in the morning and it was someone that I hadn't spoken to in a year or two.  He said "Are you fine?" I said "Yeah I'm good." He said, "You sure you're okay?" I said, "Yes."  He said, "Well, my wife said to call you and congratulate you because I saw in the newspaper that you're being inducted into the Jamaican Hall of Fame, but we were so concerned, because usually when these things happen, you're either dead or dying.  I'm glad you're okay." That was so funny.

Richard, Arthur Ashe, Lance Lumsden
This is wonderful that you're being so acknowledged at this time, how's that working for you? Well, quite honestly, it's a huge surprise.  But I have to tell you, I spent many years walking the footsteps of Arthur Ashe, we were actually very good friends. In fact, in Australia we had a little music band together.  He was in Jamaica more than people thought, he had a Jamaican love. Arthur visited quite often.

When we were in Australia together he begged me, he said "Richard, I can't sign anymore autographs, can you sign some for me?"  The thing about it is this, when people would come to me, and the more I would tell then I'm not Arthur Ashe, the more they would think that I was pulling their legs. You see, in Australia, any Black person look alike to them, they can't tell one from the other.

That sounds like America too! That's funny.

But in cricket, we (Jamaica) have very good cricketers, all of them, when they would go to Australia, they were swamped, people all over them. And when I was there, they would think I was a Caribbean cricketer, they can't tell one from the other.

Quite honestly, Arthur and I, we kind of  had similar hair cuts.  In the Australian newspaper photo that I sent you where he and I are standing together, the Australian press couldn't believe it, the guy taking the picture said, "I can't tell one of you from the other! I can't tell which is Arthur Ashe and which is Richard Russell." I said, "I'm Richard Russell!" It was hilarious.

Life must have been something else at the time.  Oh, it was unbelievable.  Arthur was such a special person, who is gone too soon.  What an extraordinary human being.  You know, he kept so much inside of himself.  I went to Indianapolis to play, and one of the club members there who I became friends with said, "You know last year Arthur Ashe came with the Davis Cup team and he wasn't allowed to change in the official men's change room.  It was such an embarrassment.  Well, he came, he played, and he said nothing.  Nobody made a stink over it. That is outrageous.

This is going back to 1966-1968. I played in Pensacola, Florida, I didn't know that they had an emergency board meeting to decide whether for me to be able to play, or not to play. They decided that I'm not an American, I'm Jamaican, and those are the grounds on which they allowed me to play, cause it would have been a hell of a problem, because the Caribbean Circuit had been started,  the whole thing would've been turned upside down if they had said I couldn't play.  Arthur couldn't play there, and I was in shock, absolutely.  And there were other situations, very similar.  Just as in Washington D.C. where the mayor was Black, they had over 50% Black population, and I was staying as a guest, one block from the Washington Golf and Country Club, myself and Pancho Guzman of Ecuador, we were there to play their big tournament which is after Wimbledon.  The people who were members of the Club, one of them in particular said to me, "Listen, we have courts booked for you guys at the Club, but on second thought, I don't want anybody to be embarrassed, so you will probably need to go and play somewhere else."  He said, "Do you know that the mayor of Washington is Black, and he can't even come here." So we ended up going 20 minutes away to practice. The following year I went back there, and the same family insisted that I come and stay with them, and the first thing that was said to me was, "You know, when you left here, we cancelled our membership with the Washington Golf and Country Club.  We are now members of another club which is 15 minutes away. I just need for you to know that.  You being here made us realize that we cannot be a part of a situation like this. Having an international tennis player coming, and because you're Black, we cannot take you to the club - that's unacceptable."

TOTALLY!  So, very interesting times, the 60s and the 70s.

Unfortunately, here in America, not to much amazement, many aspects of those times exist today.  I realize that. When Arthur won Wimbledon he was given automatic membership, and the rules at Forest Hills were, if you win the U.S. Open you get automatic membership, and a year later Arthur Ashe still wasn't given membership.  They couldn't accept him, they had no Black members. It was about three weeks before the U.S. Open of the following year where the PTR and ATP were going to get involved and they were thinking about him even boycotting Forest Hills. But somebody in the Club really stepped up and granted him formally the membership prior to the event.  It took them one year to sort it out for him to get membership.

At the beginning of your career, did you even think that you would be as successful as you became, or did you surprise yourself?  I think my father, well, I had no intentions of being a tennis player, that was the last thing in my mind.  I was a cricketer - I was the youngest schoolboy cricketer in Jamaica.  Everything was pointing to me becoming a high rated cricketer for the Caribbean, for the West Indies.  My school teacher, the person in charge of tennis, had nobody to play on the tennis team, so he went on the field and took the best cricketers off and said "You're representing the school in tennis in two weeks times, so you have to come half an hour before you go to cricket and learn to play tennis. And then he entered me into the national championships and I got to the finals.

My father, who was saving up for four or five years to put in a swimming pool that the family wanted, when he saw me in the national championships, he went home and measured the front lawn and said he's putting in a tennis court. He put a wall in the tennis court and instructed me that I am not going to school unless I play tennis for half an hour against the wall every morning.

Wow... Much to the displeasure of my poor mother who had all of her imported roses in the front of the house, she now had to move them to the side of the house. And when I was late for school, she was in tears saying that I was late, and my father would say, "No he's not late, he's only missing chapel, he's not missing school."

My father apparently read in those days that all the top Australian players learned to play against the garage wall at their house, so my father had me, seven days a week, half an hour against the wall, and then I became the youngest national champion of Jamaica by 16.  And that started the whole thing.  He picked up the phone, called Australia, asked about the great Harry Hopman (didn't know him at all), and he got a hold of him and said "My son has just become the youngest national champion of Jamaica and I don't know what to do with him," and Harry Hopman said, "Put him on a plane and send him to me." And off I went, that was
the start of my whole development, spending a year with Harry Hopman in Australia.

Now that you had begun playing so well, even though that was not your intent, did you come to love the sport?    Well, absolutely I did, but I think the passion was my father's.  All of our entire family were all sports people, my father, his brothers, all very good sports people, they played all the sports.  My father said to me, "Son, we have played all the sports, and if you're going to get really good at any one sport, you have to focus on one, you can't play all the sports.  And it's easier for you to play tennis than play cricket.  So, we put in the tennis court, and we're going to do everything possible for you to improve your tennis."  So he was really the driving force until, at least, I got to a certain point where obviously "I" wanted to get better and improve.

Yeah, so now you began to personally enjoy it.  Exactly, but my father gets all of the credit initially for even getting me involved.

As you look back at your career now, what do you think about it?  Well, tennis has provided me every... single... thing... I have in life.  It is the most extraordinary sport of all time.  It has opened every door, and every business transaction that I've gone into.  Tennis just somehow... the doors were just opened.  I can't think of anything more fulfilling than my involvement in tennis over the years.

By extension, I got my sons involved in tennis and even at the expense of their school work at one point.  And one of my son's said to me, and I have never forgotten this in my life, he said "Dad, I want to say something to you.  I want to thank you for keeping me in tennis.  Dad, do you know that the particular academy where I am, I am over subscribed. I am full, and I have a waiting list.  Some of my closest friends, university graduates, can't get a job, or some of them, they're taking a job two levels below their qualifications, and here am I, over subscribed. Tennis is the greatest sport there is on earth." I said to myself, "Oh, thank God."  I said, "You know something, thank you very much for that."

My feeling is that education is for a lifetime, and I had a scholarship to Louisville, Kentucky and my father sent me to Australia - that was his decision. Looking back at it now, the education I got traveling the world, my interactions with people, the broadening of your whole horizon, you get this only from this wonderful exposure.  And to play a sport like tennis where you're literally traveling the world for free, playing different tournaments, meeting different ethnic groups, it is almost a dream, almost a fantasy world really, when you think about it.

Coming back home to Jamaica, it was like I ended up being a big fish in a small pond.  You go anywhere, I got into manufacturing.  My prime minister called me, Michael Manley, he also played tennis, he said, "Richard, I didn't know you had so many styles of shorts." Because what happened was, everybody didn't know what to give the prime minister, so you know what they did?  They gave him Richard Russell tennis shorts! He said, "I have all these different shorts from different people. I didn't know you had so many styles of shorts!" It was funny.

So many doors opened, it's gratifying even until today.  You go anywhere, people recognize you, people respect you, people love you, you give the love back and interact with people, you help out the young kids and you get satisfaction from helping people. I said to myself, "You know, the greatest satisfaction you get in life isn't from earning money, but the people you help, especially those less fortunate."  Stop and think about it for a little bit, and as you get older, you recognize this more and more.  And your legacy is for people to remember you for the good deeds that you've done for people.

Indeed, indeed, indeed.  That's your legacy - it's wonderful satisfaction.

Tell me this, in directing your tennis academy, what is the single highest priority in the lessons that you teach - what's the most important thing that you want them to learn?  Being able to get the kids on the court and for them to have fun, to enjoy the sport, to express to them that this may be the greatest sport in the world, especially recognizing young girls and the college opportunities that are available to them.  That this is the only sport in the entire world where there's equal prize money for men and women. I tell them you have no idea how special this sport is, the tennis scholarships, the opportunities.  By learning to play tennis, you can use it to further your education.  That's one of the main features, talking to the young kids and impressing upon the parents the opportunities that exist through a sport like tennis. We're here to help them move up the ladder, and maybe to consider tennis careers down the road.     

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Fifteen-Year-Old Coco Gauff Makes History As The Youngest Qualifier For Wimbledon In The Open Era

Friday, June 28, 2019

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2018 U.S. OPEN: Venus Williams Defeats Fellow U.S. Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova In Opening Round

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

American Venus Williams and Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova took to the courts for round one of the 2018 U.S. Open wherein the two went toe-to-toe with Venus eventually prevailing.

In all, it was a high-quality affair from both competitors, Venus striking 48 winners to 45 unforced errors while Kuznetsova struck 40 winners to 38 unforced errors.

"I'm most pleased I won the match. I think I stayed pretty aggressive throughout the match, and that's how I want to play the tournament" Venus stated post match.

"It's wonderful when the crowd is behind you. I experienced that much later in my career than I guess is typical. But I guess it's wonderful to have people on your side. You have to do it for yourself as well, but if the crowd is with you, it's wonderful to do it for them, too."

 Up next for the seven-time Grand Slam champion is Wimbledon quarterfinalist Camila Giorgi.

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2014 FRENCH OPEN DAY 9: What!... What!... What!... The Frenchman Takes Out Garcia-Lopez, Sets Up Murray Quarterfinal

Monday, June 2, 2014

Frenchman Gael Monfils celebrates his 4th-round win over Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez at the 2014 French Open.

PARIS (Reuters) - Home favorite Gael Monfils reached the quarter-finals of the French Open for the fourth time when he ended the run of unseeded Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez with a 6-0 6-2 7-5 win on Monday.

The 23rd seed, who also made it to the last eight in 2008, 2009 and 2011, blazed through the first two sets and held off the world number 41 in the third, ending the contest on a sun-drenched court Philippe Chatrier with an ace.

Monfils will face British seventh seed Andy Murray for a place in the last four, a stage he reached in 2008 when he was defeated by Roger Federer.

"In the third set, when I broke him he started to go for his shots and played more freely," Monfils, whose preparations have been hampered by an ankle injury he sustained in early April, said courtside.

"I became too defensive so I had to accelerate again."

No French man has won their home slam since Yannick Noah in 1983.

During the first two sets, Garcia-Lopez was a pale shadow of the player who knocked out world No.3 Stan Wawrinka in the first round.

The Spaniard peppered the court with unforced errors, most of them from his forehand, the very shot that helped him progress to the last 16.

He went 2-0 down in the third before regaining his composure as Monfils, the last French player left in the singles, played too conservatively.

The Frenchman, who had advanced to this round after beating Italian Fabio Fognini in an unforced errors-fest, turned the situation around thanks to some fine returns and, spurred on by the crowd, broke decisively in the 11th game.

Next up is Wimbledon champion Murray, who fought hard to beat Spain's Fernando Verdasco in straight sets.

"He's such an entertainer," Murray said after his match.

"He is one of my favorite players to watch. There's going to be some fun points."

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2012 US OPEN: Tsonga Takes Out Beck In Straight Sets, Advances To Second Round

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates advancing to 2012 US Open second round.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga screamed to the blue heavens and pumped his signature double bicep curl, complete with thumbs pointing towards elated eyes as the gallery, solidly behind him, whooped in delight. The charismatic Frenchman completed his first US Open match of 2012 with a dominance fitting his career-best no. 5 seed, ousting Slovakian qualifier Karol Beck 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (2) to advance to the second round.

"I think I played good tennis the first two sets, and after that I lost a bit concentration at the beginning of the third set," said Tsonga. "Then I came back, and, you know, I did some effort to come back. It was not easy today because the weather was hot. I'm happy to go through this round really quickly."

Tsonga blended a sharp, booming forehand with nifty net play throughout, running Beck around the sunlit Grandstand. The drop shots fell early and often, as Tsonga won the point on 22 of 27 (81 percent) net approaches.

"He was moving really well," said Beck of Tsonga. "It was a tough draw, a tough player for the first round. I was trying to play more to his backhand and I thought it was going well in the third set, but you have to be better than playing your 100-percent best to beat someone like him."

Beck finally broke Tsonga early in the third set, trading service games through 5-4 and Beck serving for the set when Tsonga showed resolve, breaking back. Serving to go up 6-5, he swept all the points, punctuated by a 130 mile-per-hour ace, his thirteenth and final one of the match. Beck held serve and the two went to a tiebreak, where Tsonga finished things quickly, leading to his signature celebratory salute.

Up next for the 27-year-old will be another unranked Slovak, left-handed Martin Klizan, who defeated Colombia’s Alejandro Falla 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 on Monday for his first-ever US Open main draw victory. The two have never met as professionals.

Since Tsonga’s Wimbledon upset of 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, Tsonga’s has placed quarterfinals-or-better in four of five majors, including his longest trek in New York in 2011 where he defeated No. 19 Fernando Verdasco and No. 8 Mardy Fish before losing to Federer in the quarters. Should he reach the same round in 2012, it's likely that Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray will be waiting. The two have had their share of stellar matchups in the Slams, most recently a tough four-setter in July at Wimbledon won by Murray 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Source: usopen.org
Photos by Getty Images

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2012 US OPEN: Venus Williams Easily Advances To Second Round

Venus Williams, USA waves to the crowd after defeating fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

It was a slow start for Venus Williams on Arthur Ashe stadium Tuesday afternoon, but once the two-time champion found her groove, there was no stopping her.

Unseeded here for just the third time in 14 appearances, the elder Williams advanced to the second round with a decisive 6-3, 6-1 win over fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Williams fell down early to Mattek-Sands after holding game points in the first game, losing that and the second to trail 2-0. The 31-year-old then kicked into high gear, at one point rolling off 12 straight points to help her build a 5-2 lead.

Serving for the first set at 5-3, Williams belted three straight aces to lead 40-love, and then closed the set off with a service winner to complete it in just 29 minutes.

It wasn’t much different in the second—sans a slow start—for Venus. She broke to begin the set and continued with deep, penetrating groundstrokes to go up 4-1, her serve cooperating well but giving Mattek-Sands plenty of trouble.

Mattek-Sands called for the trainer at 4-1 down in the second, but it only seemed to be delaying the inevitable. Williams won the next two games with ease, closing out the match in just 62 minutes.

Williams had won all three of their previous encounters, including here three years ago in the second round. Mattek-Sands, once ranked as high as No. 30, needed a wildcard to get into the Open after a series of injuries had dropped her ranking to No. 212 this year.

Venus improved her record in the first round of Slams to 53-4, having lost in the opening round of Wimbledon against Elena Vesnina just two months ago. But she has appeared rejuvinated this summer, getting to the third round at the Olympics and then making a run to the semifinals at Cincinnati, losing to eventual champion Li Na.

Two years ago Venus made an inspiring run to the semifinals here, losing in dramatic fashion to Kim Clijsters, the eventual winner. In the second round Venus will face Angelique Kerber, the German who took her out at the Olympics in two tiebreak sets and was a surprise semifinalist here a year ago.

Source: usopen.org
Photos by: Getty Images

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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..."

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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2012 US OPEN: New Dad James Blake Makes Good Use Of Wild Card, Advances To Round 2

Monday, August 27, 2012

American James Blake during first round match against Lukas Lacko of Slovakia  on Day One of the 2012 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Native New Yorker and hometown favorite James Blake, now 32 and playing in his 12th US Open, and a new dad as of June, toughed out a lengthy, momentum-killing rain delay and defeated Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round in Louis Armstrong Stadium Monday.

After coming out a bit flat to start the first set, Blake and Lacko traded a slew of unforced errors. As the stands began to fill up with late-arriving supporters, Blake slowly found his rhythm. The 24-year-old Lacko – who hasn’t won a match since losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round at Wimbledon – continued to struggle.

In the first set, after serving his first perfect game of the match to tie the score at 5-5 and breaking Lacko with a cross-court Hail Mary return that just grazed the line, Blake grabbed a 6-5 lead. He served out the set 7-5 with a perfectly placed ace clocking in at 125 mph.

Blake cruised in the second set with the crowd behind him. The American capitalized on an early break of Lacko, and he built an insurmountable lead, finishing the set in 28 minutes.

That momentum vanished after a two-hour rain delay. The veteran Blake appeared stiff when he returned to the court, and he allowed Lacko back into the match, giving up his serve and essentially handing the Slovak the third set.

After trading early breaks in the fourth, Blake survived the brief scare, finally claiming the win on his fourth match point, as he confidently stepped around a backhand and crunched a forehand down the line.

source:  usopen.org
photos by: Getty Images

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2012 OLYMPICS: "We're Looking Forward To Rio" Says Serena Williams As She And Venus Win Doubles Gold

Sunday, August 5, 2012

American sisters Venus and Serena Williams celebrate winning the Gold Medal in Women's Doubles

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Serena Williams relishes her role as copycat little sister. Even if it takes her 12 years.

Now, she has that remarkable Olympic double - just like Venus.

The overpowering American pair teamed to win the women's doubles title at the Olympics on Sunday, with Serena adding to the singles gold she won on Centre Court at Wimbledon a day earlier.

"Crazy," Serena said. "I'm always copying her. I forgot that she did it in Sydney and I do it here. We're the same doubles team, we just split this to singles, so it's cool."

The sisters beat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 under the roof on a rainy afternoon at the All England Club. Venus - with her red, white and blue braids pulled back into a bun - closed out the match on the very grass she has long loved with a backhand volley winner after the Czechs saved a pair of match points.

"We all talk about this, 'We have so many medals,' but to be able to add to that, it's like an unbelievable feeling," Venus said. "You know that in that count, there you are. It feels amazing."

On Saturday, Serena beat Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 for the singles gold. She joined Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the Golden Slam - winning the Olympics and the four majors.

When the Americans in the crowd at Centre Court broke into a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" as the players left the court, the sisters each pumped their fists, turned around to wave, then slapped a high-five. The medal ceremony had to wait for the outdoor bronze-medal match, which was delayed by rain.

With Bob and Mike Bryan capturing gold in men's doubles Saturday, make it three golds for U.S. tennis in two days.

"It's great because America's added three gold medals to our medal count just in the tennis," Venus said. "I feel great to be a part of this U.S. team this year."

Serena became tennis' first double gold medalist at an Olympics since Venus won singles and doubles at the 2000 Sydney Games. The sisters also won the doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

With Sunday's victory, they each have a record four Olympic tennis gold medals, and the sisters didn't drop a set through their five matches at the London Games.

While Serena was thrilled to win on her own Saturday, with Venus rooting her on from the family box, the doubles is what she most cared about coming to the London Games.

Especially considering all the emotional and physical struggles for Venus, who was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue.

"This is all I wanted," said Venus, who had all of about two months to raise her ranking and qualify for the Olympics. "Boy, was that a battle. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I really feel proud of what happened here at the Olympics."

But for years Venus has been comfortable on the lawn at Wimbledon, where she has won five of her seven Grand Slam titles.

"Venus has been going through so much and she's so strong and so she's so amazing," Serena said. "And to win this was my goal."

The Williamses also became the first tennis players to win Olympic gold indoors since the 1912 Stockholm Games, a match played in a pavilion on wood courts painted black.

On Sunday, they won the fourth game of the second set at love on Venus' ace, the first of three straight games in which they didn't lose a point.

Serena overcame two break points trailing 1-0 in the second set. She pumped her fist and cheered after a forehand winner down the alley past a poaching Hradecka, who was aggressive at the net all afternoon.

The Czechs held in four of their first five service games, including Hlavackova's first that went to deuce four times.

Venus Williams joins Conchita Martinez of Spain as the only tennis players to win medals at three different Olympics. Martinez's medals all came in doubles - silver in Barcelona in 1992, bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games and silver in Athens in 2004.

Gigi Fernandez and current U.S. coach Mary Joe Fernandez are the only others to win back-to-back Olympic tennis gold medals after they teamed for doubles titles in 1992 and 1996.

And the sisters insist they're not done yet.

"We're looking forward to Rio," Serena said, "and trying to get some sort of medal there."

Photos by Getty Images

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2012 OLYMPICS: NEXT! Serena Frustrates Zvonareva As She Blazes Past Her Into Quarterfinals

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

American Serena quickly dispatches Russian Vera Zvonareva on Day 5 of 2012 Olympics

LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Serena Williams needed just 51 minutes to crush Russia’s Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-0 in the opening match on Centre Court and march on to the Olympic quarterfinals.

The five-time Wimbledon champion, who is seeking her first Olympic singles gold medal, totally dominated the match, breaking Zvonareva three times in both sets. Zvonareva, the Beijing bronze medallist, only managed to win seven points on Williams’s serve.

The match was a repeat of the pair’s 2010 Wimbledon final, but the result was even more devastating for Zvonareva. Then, Williams won 6-3, 6-2; today the Russian failed to get on the scoreboard after the third game. The Russian’s three-set defeat of Williams on grass at Eastbourne last year must have given her hope, but the nature of the American’s victory here proves again how much she saves her best for the big stage.

Williams broke Zvonareva’s serve in the opening game of the match and that set the tone for what followed. The Russian won her solitary game to get to 1-2, but after that it was all one-way traffic. Williams was too powerful, too consistent, and too accurate while her opponent struggled with her first serve. The American sealed the set with a forehand winner after just 25 minutes.

Zvonareva had chances in the second set but just couldn’t capitalise. She had two break points in the opening game but Williams held firm, winning the game with an ace. After that there were no more chances for the hapless Russian as her opponent raced away with the match.

Trailing 0-3, Zvonareva threw her racket to the ground in frustration, and even the non-Russian fans in the crowd did what they could to encourage her. Down 0-30 on her serve again in the last game, they gave her a spontaneous round of applause, but it failed to lift her and Williams got her first match point with a stunning service return. Zvonareva’s backhand found the net a point later and the American had won the match and handed her opponent the ignominy of a second set ‘bagel’.

Williams has yet to lose a set in three matches played in her quest to become Olympic champion and she looks in ominous form. She will meet either Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki or Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova in the quarterfinals.

source: itf.com

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2012 OLYMPICS: British No. 1 Heather Watson Begins Olympic Quest With A First Round Win

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

British No. 1 Heather Watson in her 2012 Olympics first round match.

Britain's Heather Watson
After becoming the first British woman for a decade to reach the third round of the Wimbledon Championshps, on Monday British No. 1 Heather Watson continued her confidence and form at the 2012 Olympics with an impressive straight-sets first round win over Spaniard Silvia Espinosa-Soler, 6-2, 6-2.

"I'm very pleased with that win, I knew it wasn't going to be easy," said Watson.

"I've never played her before but I knew she is a great player and wasn't going to give me any free points. I played well today."

Of her upcoming meeting with Wimbledon quarter-finalist Maria Kirilenko of Russia, Watson stated, "She's been a top player for a long time. "I know she hits the ball hard. Typical Russian girl, tries to overpower and blast the ball. So I'm just going to play my game."

source:  BBC

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2012 OLYMPICS: Serena Williams Easily Advances To Round Two As She Defeats Jelena Jankovic

Saturday, July 28, 2012

USA's Serena Williams waves to the crowd after effectively dismissing Serbia's Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-3.

With big sister Venus and America's First Lady, Michelle Obama, cheering her on, Serena Williams easily defeated Serbia's Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1, and advanced to round two of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Just weeks after claiming victory in Wimbledon stadium for the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, Serena returns to the same stadium in pursuit of another Gold Medal to add to the impressive array of trophies and titles she has already earned.

Serena represented the USA proudly in a red, white and blue outfit with a red Nike headband adorning her hair.

Jankovic showcased some impressive shots and aces during the match, but none of it was sufficient to counter the powerful strategic game that Serena very effectively produced in a brief 61 minutes.

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2012 OLYMPICS: ITF Launches Olympic Mobile App

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Olympic rings

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) today launched a mobile App for the Olympic Tennis Event taking place at The All England Club, Wimbledon from 28 July until 5 August. The smartphone App forms part of a wider digital strategy that makes the ITF Olympic Tennis website ITFtennis.com/Olympics the number one destination for tennis fans during London 2012.

The mobile App provides fans with live scores, schedules, drawsheets, news, photos, and player and event information, and is available for free download to iPhone and Android users. For other smartphone devices, a mobile friendly version of the website is available equipped with the same features.

The new-look ITF Olympic Tennis website was launched earlier in 2012 alongside a Spanish-language version of the site ITFtennis.com/Olimpiadas. During the Games, the website will offer a comprehensive live scores console with match statistics, the first time live scoring has been available on the ITF Olympic Tennis website.

The ITF Olympic Tennis website will offer in-depth coverage from the All England Club including news, match reports, interviews, photos and blogs. The website aims to build on the success of Beijing 2008 when a record number of visitors followed the action.

Fans can also keep up-to-date with the tennis through the ITF Olympic Tennis social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. These pages provide behind-the-scenes insight as well as giving followers the opportunity to have their say on current and topical issues.

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “We are delighted to launch this mobile App, which will provide fast, informative and easy-to-access information on the Olympic Tennis Event to fans around the world wherever they might be. The other new online features, including live scores for the first time, will make tennis one of the easiest sports to follow at this year’s Games.”

source:  itftennis.com
Photo by Steve Wake

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2012 OLYMPICS: Four-Time Olympian Venus Williams Takes Part In Torch Relay

Andy Murray, GBR and Venus Williams, USA participate in the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.

Along with Britain's Andy Murray, American Venus Williams holds the Olympic Torch in the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon Stadium where she and Andy just participated in the Wimbledon Championships. Venus may be about to become the first American tennis star to feature in four Olympics, but she intends to keep playing until the 2016 Rio Games when she will be 36.

The torch relay is on its final leg of a 70-day journey, touring the neighborhoods of host city London before being taken to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony on Friday.

 The torch has visited the Channel Islands, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland and gone past national landmarks like Stonehenge and Mount Snowdon.

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From The Blog "Sam's Passing Shots": Veteran Sportscaster Sam Crenshaw Discusses "Questions To Be Answered In Atlanta"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

As the curtain goes up on the BB&T Atlanta Open, the questions that come rushing forward seem too numerous to count..First there is a tournament field that includes the top ranked American Mens players in the world, four of which will head back to the All-England Club for the Olympics in two weeks.

The early commitment from Andy Roddick was big for the image of this event. Roddick won his first career ATP title in Atlanta and remains popular despite a recent drop in rankings. A-Rod is looking to ramp up his game before heading back to England.

Mardy Fish is two-time defending champion of this event, and after dealing with health matters in the Spring, looks to be ready to go for a threepeat. Fish passed on a spot on the Olympic team and is expected to play at Washington instead. Atlanta will be he most talented field he will face until after the Olympics.

Then there is John Isner.The UGA alum and two-time runner up here is coming to town on the heels of a strong showing at Newport. A great week in front of a supportive crowd could give him the boosted he needs headed back to the scene of a disappointing early exit at Wimbledon.

There are still more questions than answers about players like Ryan Harrison. The first time Olympian is coming off a semi-final run at Newport.. Donald Young is bound for London too, but is in the throws of a 13 match losing streak. Perhaps playing before the home crowd will help he regain the form that made him a hit at the US Open last year. The more interesting story coming to the Atlanta tournament for me has to be Brian Baker, who at this time last year was ranked #752 in the world. The one time junior phenom is now an overnight sensation at age 27 and ranked 76 in the world.Look for a few folks to drive down from Music City to see Baker play in Hotlanta.

But the biggest question may be the new venue for Atlanta's ATP event. Atlantic Station is a shopping, entertainment and residential development in the heart of the city. It is an idea that is so fresh and outside of the box that some are wondering how the traditional tennis community will treat it.With over 150 thousand card carrying league tennis players in the metro Atlanta area, this is a city that has long been know for choosing to play rather than watch. Let's see if they will accept and embrace a new approach to professional tennis, not just for Atlanta but for the entire nation. Instead of Tennis Anyone it time to say Tennis Everyone...Enjoy the tournament Ya'll !!!!

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US OPEN SERIES: Wimbledon Champion Serena Willliams Not Too Tired To Push Through To Bank Of The West Semifinals

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Serena Williams during quarterfinal play in Stanford, California at the Bank of the West Classic

2012 Wimbledon Women's Singles Champion Serena Williams is through to the US Open Series Bank of the West Classic semifinals in Stanford, California.

Though quite fatigued from just winning her fifth Wimbledon crown, as well as not sleeping through last night, Serena out played South African Chanelle Scheepers 6-4, 6-0 making it through to the semifinals in her quest to defend her 2011 title here.

In her post-match interview Serena said that "this is where it all began last year..." as she was coming off of various injuries and serious health related issues. She also said "I said I would come... and that is why I am here."

On Saturday Serena will meet Sorana Cirstea of Roumania. Cirstea defeated Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-0.

Photos by Getty Images

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Friday, July 13, 2012

American Donald Young at 2012 Wimbledon Championships.

NEWPORT, RI (AP) — Michael Russell beat fellow American and seventh-seeded Donald Young, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, Monday in the opening round at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.

The tournament, the only one held on grass courts in North America, features a number of Olympians from 10 countries scheduled to play before heading to the London Games on Wimbledon’s grass surface later this summer.

Young, the 57th-ranked player in the world entering the week, is part of the US Olympic team.

Young dominated the opening set, winning 10 of 11 first-serve points and 16 of 18 service points overall. He closed the set in 25 minutes before the 96th-ranked Russell changed his attack.

‘‘It’s difficult on a grass court, it’s almost like you’re hitting and you keep waiting to see who’s going to get a bad bounce first,’’ Russell said. ‘‘I thought I was playing a little more aggressive in the second or the third set. Even when I did miss, I thought I was playing with the right style of play.’’

In the final set, Young fought off three match points in the ninth game before Russell closed it out when Young hit a backhand service return into the net on the final point.

‘‘Obviously I wanted to close it out when he was serving,’’ Russell said. “But like I said, in the third set I felt really comfortable in my serve and was able to serve it out, which was nice.’’

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tennis tournament that schedules a day off on the middle Sunday -- and the only one that puts all 16 men's and women's fourth-round matches on the second Monday.

This gives the viewers/attendees/listeners a day off too - happy to have it. I'll be ready for action again on Monday.

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(PHOTOS) AROUND THE GRASS: Donald Young Wins, Sloane Stephens Advances In Wimbledon Qualifying

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

American wild card Donald Young won 70 per cent of service points and saved all three break points he faced to knock out British wild card Daniel Cox 6-1, 7-5 in 72 minutes.

American Sloane Stephens  in action against Jade Windley of Great Britain during day two of the Wimbledon Championships 2011 Qualifying at the Bank of England Sports Ground on June 14, 2011 in London, England.

Photos by Getty Images

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