Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On the Surface, Venus Isn't Invulnerable

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On the Surface, Venus Isn't Invulnerable

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

She has an interest in so many different things -- fashion, shopping, jewelry, her dogs -- outside of the profession that made her famous. For that reason, it's not always easy to detect which Venus Williams you'll get at a particular tennis tournament.

In a news conference after becoming the world's No. 1-ranked player for the first time in early February, the player who can't get enough of diamonds and gold offered up this gem during one of the most defining moments of her career: "I am somebody who gets bored very easily. If I dedicated all my time to tennis, it would end up boring me."

That candid remark basically explains why, with the possible exception of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, tennis fans can never be certain whether the invincible Venus or the vulnerable Venus will show up at any particular event.

But if there's any factor other than her occasional lack of focus that can give opponents a reasonable chance of success against Williams, it's right on these grounds at Amelia Island Racquet Park -- the clay surface.

Clay is the best thing ever invented to be a Venus equalizer. Put the 6-foot-1 Williams on tennis' slowest surface and at least opponents feel like the most powerful and talented player in the world -- also the top seed at the Bausch & Lomb Championships -- isn't so deathly intimidating.

"You feel better about having a chance to beat her on the clay because it's slower and you can run down shots," said Russia's Anastasia Myskina, who pushed Williams all over the court in a 6-4, 7-6 third-round loss Thursday night.

So when it was Anne Kremer's turn to play last night in the Bausch & Lomb semifinals, what little hope she had of pulling off the greatest upset of her career was right at her feet. …

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