Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Serena's Battle to Be Fit for an Open Contest

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Serena's Battle to Be Fit for an Open Contest

Article excerpt


SERENA WILLIAMS woke up one morning last week with a swollen knee. The tendinitis that has troubled her for two years is back and the French Open and Wimbledon champion faces a race against time to be fit for this month's US Open.

Serena's injury is the latest setback to the women's Tour and has forced her to withdraw from this week's Montreal tournament.

The good news is Grand Slam champions Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport are back on court after recovering from surgery, Anna Kournikova is back in the top 40 for the first time in 16 months and until Serena's knee started to play up, the sport looked like becoming interesting again.

The domination of the Williams sisters - they contested the French and Wimbledon finals - has highlighted the gulf between the top two in the game (Serena is No1, Venus No2) and the rest.

Hingis and Davenport are two players who can cause the sisters problems and that is why US Open organisers in New York are desperate for Serena to pull through.

"The next step for me is to take a few days off and be ready for the Open which is my main goal," said Williams, who lost in the Los Angeles quarterfinals to fellow American Chanda Rubin last week - her first defeat since May.

"I'm very confident I'll be able to compete and do well and, hopefully, walk home with the trophy."

This year's US Open, which starts a week on Monday, will be overshadowed by the first anniversary of 11 September. The tournament will finish three days before that date and the sport can help generate a feel-good factor in a city that is still coming to terms with the terrorist attacks.

While raging patriotism will demand American winners in both singles events, nobody wants to see another easy passage for the Williams sisters into a third successive Slam final. The fans at Flushing Meadow love a good oncourt battle and Hingis and Davenport can help produce something worth watching.

The main problem for Davenport is a lack of court-time. This year she has a 9-3 win-loss record, reflecting her inactivity, while Serena is 38-4, Venus 50-6 and Kournikova 22-21. …

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