December 31, 2007

Noteworthy: Martina on Serena

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova watched Williams' singles match (vs. Lucie Safarova at Hopman Cup) and said she had never seen Serena in better physical condition.

I'm happy to know that Serena is taking her fitness level seriously (and it shows). It is not over. Serena still has a lot more tennis to give and titles to win.

Team USA defeats Czech Republic (3-0)

The United States has won their second Hopman Cup tie in Perth against the Czech Republic after Tomas Berdych retired ill during the mixed doubles match.

Berdych, ranked 14, came down with a stomach virus last night and tournament officials decided to play the mixed doubles before his singles match against 39th-ranked American Mardy Fish.

But after the US stormed to a 6-0 lead in the first set of the doubles, with Berdych's usual power and strong serve completely absent, he announced he could no longer go on and the Czechs forfeited, giving the US a 3-0 win.

Earlier, superstar Serena Williams made a good start to her Australian summer campaign with a hard-fought 6-0 2-6 7-5 victory over Lucie Safarova in the women's singles. Williams came storming out of the blocks, her devastatingly powerful groundstrokes overpowering the 23rd ranked Safarova's and taking the opening set in 22 minutes without dropping a game.

But Safarova showed her mettle in the second set, breaking Williams' serve in the second and seventh games with quick ground work and clever drop shots, to give herself a chance.

With both players stepping up their games and the third set level 5-5, Williams, the defending Australian Open champion, then broke serve and went on to take the match in 112 minutes.

"It was definitely interesting. Lucie's a great player and I was a little off, obviously," Williams said. "She was just hitting a lot of winners on her forehand and her backhand, she was going for broke." Williams' year has been plagued by injury after the then ranked 81 singles player became only the second unseeded woman to win the Australian title in the Open era.

She said she welcomed the challenge to reach No. 1 again. "Of course I want to be No. 1, of course I want to win grand slams ... I wouldn't be out here if I didn't have those goals," she said. Williams arrived in Perth only yesterday for the mixed team event, after a stomach illness forced her to miss the tournament's opening tie between the US and India.

Serena Wins First Match of Season

PERTH, Australia - Serena Williams began preparations for her Australian Open title defense with a 6-0, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Lucie Safarova on Monday in the Hopman Cup mixed team tournament.
The win gave the United States a 1-0 lead over the Czech Republic.

Williams arrived in Perth late because of a stomach ailment and was replaced by Meghann Shaughnessy in the Americans' first match, a 2-1 win over India on Saturday.

Williams started off strongly Monday, but Safarova staged a second-set comeback. "I thought I was on my way to victory, then the next thing you know, I'm almost down 5-2 in the third," Williams said. "I was a little off, but she was hitting some great shots."
Safarova had seven double-faults, including one that set up break point in the 11th game to eventually give Williams a 6-5 lead in the deciding set. Serving for the match, Williams had two aces in the final game - her 10th and 11th of the match - then won when Safarova's backhand went wide.

Shrugging off jet-lag after a journey that began in Miami and took her via New York and Dubai, the American wore a pink skirt, light brown top and matching bandana and looked fitter than she has in recent years. Despite arriving in Perth only on Sunday, Williams proved her fitness was good by winning a tight battle with Safarova 6-0 2-6 7-5. Team USA (Mardy and Serena) will take on Team Australia (Peter Luczak and Alicia Molik) on Thursday, January 3, 2008. Serena starts the tie against Alicia Molik (at 10:30am).

December 30, 2007

UPDATE: Tennis Channel and Hopman Cup

The Tennis Channel is now airing the 2003 Australian Open Final between Venus and Serena Williams. (Commentators are currently giving their viewpoints so the match is soon to start). On another GREAT note. Serena just won her Hopman Cup match against tricky lefty, Lucie Safarova: 6-0, 2-6, 7-5. More to come.....

Conflict: Lendl/Serena vs. Becker/Venus?

The Tennis Channel (TTC) was scheduled to air the 2003 Australian Open Final (Serena vs. Venus) but it is currently showing the 1991 Australian Open Men's Final between Lendl and Becker. Their website still states that the 7pm airing is that of the Williams Sisters and that the Lendl vs. Becker match is not supposed to air until 10pm EST. (Maybe the switch will cause the Sisters' match to air at 10pm). I really take issue with "this" channel and this scheduling conflict is not even the tip of the iceberg. Please let me not start ranting about their "Grand Slam" coverage (or "tennis" coverage in general) as it relates to that of ESPN/ESPN2/USA. I will most definitely keep you posted as to whether the match between Venus and Serena actually airs at 10pm. Who knows, (by reputation alone) they (TTC) may actually air the Lendl vs. Becker match again at 10pm. I would not be surprised. The Tennis Channel is a joke (and it has been that way long before today). The concept of the Tennis Channel actually airing "tennis" was nice though. Then again, maybe I have the wrong perception of this channel. Just as Showtime/HBO/The Movie Channel actually show "movies" 24-7 and "as scheduled," I figured the Tennis Channel was cut from that very same pattern. I'm not the "eat-when-I'm-upset" type person, I'm just not that guy, but I am about to get acquainted with some cookies-n-cream ice cream. Until next time......

Serena Practicing

After a morning snooze, Williams joined her usual Australian hitting partner, Mark Hlawaty, and a German import for an hour-long session of two-on-one.

GAME ON! Serena arrives in Perth, Australia

Williams Ready To Defend Australian Open Tennis Title

PERTH, Australia (AFP) - American superstar Serena Williams finally arrived in Australia on Sunday, tired and several days late, but confident she was on track to defend her Australian Open title.

The world No.7 arrived here early Sunday morning to compete in the mixed teams Hopman Cup, having taken a circuitous route from her US base in Miami via New York and Dubai.

Williams cited a stomach flu as the reason for her late arrival, with
Meghann Shaughnessy successfully substituting as Mardy Fish's partner in the USA's opening tie victory over India on Saturday. "I was so glad when I heard that she won and Mardy won yesterday. I was really excited. I owe her a big thank-you," Williams said.

Having caught a few hours sleep after flying in at 3:00 am, Williams yawned her way through a practice session, but hit the ball crisply and looked in good shape.

The 26-year-old said she believed the guaranteed match practice of the Hopman Cup was the ideal preparation for 2008's first Grand Slam.

Williams warmed up for this year's Australian Open by playing in Hobart, where she was eliminated in the quarter finals.

However, she then went to Melbourne ranked 86th in the world and stunned the tennis world by fighting her way through to the final, where she thrashed
Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-2 to claim her eighth Grand Slam title.

The Australian Open starts on January 14 and Williams explained she wanted a break between her warm-up tournament and the Grand Slam.

She used the same preparation in 2003, when she won both the Hopman Cup and Australian Open.

"Last year was cutting it close, I never like to play the week before a Grand Slam," she said. "Especially as defending champion, I really wanted to make sure I was here trying to get ready."

Despite the illness setback and also missing the season ending tournament in Madrid in November with a knee problem, Williams said she was satisfied with her preparation for the Australian Open.

Williams said she barely rested at the end of the season.

"I had a whole week (off), so that was not long at all," she said. "I am definitely feeling fully prepared. "It has been really good, I have been trying to train a little bit and have some fun."

The Hopman Cup will also offer Williams invaluable practice on the controversial new Plexicushion surface that is also being used for the Australian Open.
(I love you Serena!) : )

December 28, 2007

Re-Live Serena Completing the "Serena Slam" - Australian Open Classic: 2003 Final (vs. Venus)

On Sunday, December 30, 2007 @7pm EST, The TENNIS CHANNEL will air the 2003 Australian Open Final (Venus vs. Serena). As many may know, with winning the 2003 Australian Open, Serena completed the SERENA SLAM. This marked only the fifth time a woman has held all four of tennis' major championships at the same time, and the first since Steffi Graf in 1994. (Currently, no other female has completed this feat since Serena). And to do it, Serena had to beat her sister, best friend and practice partner each time. The Williams siblings are the first (and only) two women in Grand Slam history to square off in four consecutive finals.
Amazing Statistic:
Serena Williams has won 28 consecutive Grand Slam matches. (Also, the day before the final, Venus and Serena won the Doubles Title).
(I pray that the programming lineup does not change. Being a fan, I have to admit that I NEVER saw this match and it is sure to be classic for me).

December 27, 2007

Hopman Delay - Injury or illness?

I have read several articles stating that Serena is being delayed due to a "mild illness." Now there are articles (that appear to be highly speculative) citing a lingering knee injury as the the reason for the delay. Since when does a "mild illness" translate into a "knee injury?" Hopefully Serena will soon make a statement. Either way, we are bound to know what happens (in reference to her participation) within the next few days. Also worthy of noting is that the Official Hopman Cup Website lists the following article on their main page:

Serena Arrival Forces Temporary Switch

It was announced today that due to a mild illness, Serena Williams will now be arriving in Perth on Sunday. As the USA’s opening match in the Hyundai Hopman Cup is on Saturday morning against India, a substitute in Meghann Shaughnessy will partner Mardy Fish for this match only. Serena’s first match will now be on Monday 31 December against the talented Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in a pivotal tie for both teams.

Tournament Director, Paul McNamee said “it’s great that Serena is still playing in Perth. Meghann is a good substitute coming off her appearance in the final of the 2007 US Open Mixed Doubles and a strong year in singles”. Shaughnessy will fly to the Gold Coast immediately after the match to play in the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts. Under the rules of the tournament, substitutions are allowed between ties (but not during a tie). Therefore Williams and Fish will carry forward the results achieved by Shaughnessy and Fish in the opening tie without any penalty whatsoever.

Hyundai Hopman Cup will be played at Burswood Dome from 12/29/07 – 01/04/08.
The Hyundai Hopman Cup is televised on ABC TV and Fox Sports.

December 26, 2007

Sick Serena late for Hopman

Oh no! Here we go again. I know that we all get sick but this is putting a very bad taste in my mouth. Serena will miss Saturday's match and that leaves three additional days of matches for Serena and Mardy: Monday, Thursday and Friday (Final). Get well SOON Serena! Make 2008 your best and most consistent season yet.

American drawcard Serena Williams will make a late start to Perth's Hopman Cup mixed teams event due to illness.

Williams will not arrive in Perth in time to partner Mardy Fish in the Americans' opening tie in the tournament against Indians Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna on Saturday.

The world No.7 will be replaced by the 52nd-ranked Meghann Shaughnessy. There had been concern over Williams' attendance at the tournament because of recent injuries, but she has assured organisers she will arrive in Perth over the weekend. Under Hopman Cup rules, player substitutions are allowed between ties.

December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays

Wishing you and yours a safe and enjoyable Holiday Season.
Merry Christmas.

December 23, 2007

Serena's (Tentative) Schedule for 2008

AWESOME looking schedule. If she remains fit and healthy, there is no doubt that she will soon return to where she belongs, #1!

12/29/07 - Hopman Cup
01/14/08 - Australian Open
02/04/08 - Open Gaz de France
02/11/08 - Proximus Diamond Games
02/25/08 - Dubai Tennis Championships
03/03/08 - Bangalore Open
03/24/08 - Sony Ericsson Open
04/14/08 - Family Circle Cup
05/05/08 - Qatar Telecom German Open
05/12/08 - Internazionali BNL d'Italia
05/26/08 - French Open
06/23/08 - Wimbledon

December 18, 2007

2007 Women's Tennis In Review

Bonnie D. Ford ( wrote an article citing the high and low points as it relates to the 2007 Women's Tennis Season. Here is what she had to say about Serena:

Match of the Year: A tie between the Henin-Venus Williams U.S. Open semifinal and Henin's marathon, last-woman-standing victory over Maria Sharapova in the year-end championships. Honorary mention to Serena Williams' cat burglar performance in the Miami final. She was bagled in the first set, then staved off two match points and clawed back to pilfer the title.

Comeback Player of the Year: Jointly awarded to Venus and Serena Williams, who won a Slam apiece in the same season for only the second time in their careers (2005 was the first). A year ago, the sisters had been written off. Now they're cozied up at Nos. 7 and 8 on the WTA hit parade, and their penchant for defying convention shouldn't negate their accomplishment.

Ill-advised shot of the year: A Sharapova overhead smash that hit Serena Williams in the first set of their lopsided Australian Open final. Williams was up 5-0 at that point and didn't need further kerosene dumped on the fire. The long, malevolent stare and muttered response Williams gave Sharapova was operatic in its intensity. Maybe it's coincidence, but Sharapova and her serve didn't fully recover until the end of the season.

Most testy exchange with reporters: Serena Williams, deeply perturbed by her third straight quarterfinal loss to Henin at a Slam, told reporters at the U.S. Open she only showed up for the news conference because she didn't want to get fined. If there was a bright side to the churlish four-minute session, it showed that Serena still cares -- a lot.

December 15, 2007

SERENA and Andy Rock!!!

The exhibition, Rock-n-Racquets, came to Omaha for the first time. Roddick started it in 2002 with Andre Agassi. Agassi has since retired, so Roddick called on Williams, owner of eight Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal.

"The idea: develop tennis interest in places like Omaha that rarely see the sport up close," said Williams, who'd never been to Nebraska. "The idea worked, mostly because of Roddick."

The singles portion of the event started with Serena Williams' win over Ashley Harkleroad 6-4, 6-2. Three hours into the event, Roddick and Williams paired for one set of mixed doubles against Querrey and Harkleroad - the stars won 6-3.

In a week's time, Serena has participated in two exhibitions with two members of the (2007 Champion) U.S. Davis Cup Team, James Blake and Andy Roddick.

December 14, 2007

Serena Williams attends CELEBRATION for Venus!

Serena Williams arrives at a party to celebrate Venus Williams's graduation from the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale and to promote the launch of Venus's EleVen clothing line at Hotel Victor on December 13, 2007 in Miami Beach, Florida.

SERENA and family attend Venus' Graduation

Tennis star Venus Williams graduated Thursday from the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale, with an associate degree in fashion design. She received honors for the Best Sportswear Collection during the ceremonies.

December 13, 2007

Serena Williams: Newsworthy Statistic

Serena ended 2006 ranked 95 (mainly due to injury/inactivity).
She finished 2007 ranked 7.

December 9, 2007

Serena at An Achievable Dream Academy

After she briefly spoke to the children, Williams, James Blake and An Achievable Dream staff lined up 10 promising tennis Dreamers to share the court with the stars. Blake and a child would be on one side of the net, with Williams and another child on the other side.

An Achievable Dream is a non-profit organization but more importantly, it operates an actual accredited school within the public school system delivering a social, academic and moral curriculum to children who may not otherwise have hope to achieve their dreams. It works by setting expectations, guidelines and boundaries, refusing to use poverty as an excuse, and recognizing inner-city kids can meet and often exceed expectations.

Serena's 2008 Australian Open Outfit

Serena is reportedly wearing this one-piece, white tunic-style dress (with side slits) adorned with royal purple accents over a pair of purple spandex biker shorts with purple wrist bands (as the outfit of choice for the 2008 Australian Open).

Serena and James Blake: Anthem Live!

Serena took time out of her busy schedule to help the cause and her friend (James) as she participated in ANTHEM LIVE! (The Ticket To Fight Cancer). Blake faced his buddy Mardy Fish in a set, then Williams took on French standout Tatiana Golovin in a set. The four then returned for a set of mixed doubles. Serena won her singles match against Tatiana. Serena also won her mixed doubles match with Mardy Fish (who is also her partner for the Hopman Cup). Serena Williams and James Blake spoke to (and played tennis with) students at An Achievable Dream Academy before going to Norfolk to play the Anthem Live! exhibition.

December 2, 2007

Dreaming of Fed Cup

Congratulations to the U.S. Team on winning Davis Cup this past Saturday. This is their first Davis Cup title since 1995 (and the most of any country, 32). After watching this match, I could not help but daydream about the U.S. Women and Fed Cup. The U.S. is the most successful nation with 17 Fed Cup Titles. Serena is undefeated in her Fed Cup career (7-0), going 4-0 in singles and 3-0 in doubles.

If I were responsible for picking the 2008 Team (praying that each of the ladies are healthy), it would look like this:

Venus and Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Lisa Raymond! Simply Unstoppable!

The U.S. last won Fed Cup in 2000. That stat will change in the very near future. The next tie is February 2-3, 2008 (World Group First Round: USA vs. Germany) TBD, U.S.