September 30, 2008

Stuttgart: 2nd Round (Wednesday)

2nd Round
Serena Williams (USA)[1] vs Na Li (CHN)
Serena leads Head-to-Head 1-0
Center Court

* This match follows V. Azarenka (BLR) vs. A. Radwanska (POL) (which will not start before 5pm/11am EST).

Serena battling to keep #1 ranking

With Jelena Jankovic winning the China Open, she comes within 21 points of Serena's number one ranking. With the number one ranking pretty much on the line, here's a scenario of how things could play out for Serena and Jelena. If one of the two loses second round and the other goes further, the one who goes further will be No.1; if they both lose in the second round, Jankovic will be No.1. If Williams wins her second round match, Jankovic's chances of becoming No.1 diminish significantly - Jankovic would have to do two wins better than Williams, so she would have to be either runner-up (with Williams losing in the quarters) or champion (with Williams losing in the semis). If Williams reaches the final, No.1 is safe, win or lose.

September 29, 2008

Carlos Rodriguez speaks on state of WTA

Too many great women's champions are retiring early and leaving some of the tour's biggest honors to those who should have needed more time to achieve them. Had Belgian and seven-time grand Slam champion Justine Henin not unexpectedly retired in May at the relatively young age of 26, this topic might not be ripe for discussion. But with Henin joining other former Slam champs under the age of 29 like Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters and Anastasia Myskina in early retirement, it's worth noting.

"That's the face of tennis today, with a player who is reaching No.1 without winning a Grand Slam," Henin's coach Carlos Rodriguez told of Jankovic, who was 0-9 against Henin. "It's a sign. She's a good player, but when you see Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters, they not only win Grand Slams, but they have the charisma. They give something extra, not only hitting balls. There's more behind them."

Rodriguez says that one of the reasons that Henin is retired is that she's looking to prove to herself that she can do more than just "hitting the ball" and will only likely consider a comeback once she has taken a very necessary mental break. But what Henin left after she retired from her most dominant season ever in 2007 is a tour with three legitimate Hall of Fame players and a bunch of developing competitors who really couldn't hold her worn out pair of socks."I have a lot of respect for the other players, but outside of the Willamses and Sharapova, the rest are still really poor," Rodriguez said.

"Outside of the Williams sisters and Sharapova, there are no players on tour who can consistently win ugly when the chips are down, their bodies are aching and their foes are zoning on them. That's part of the make-up that Henin had, her innate ability to fight like an alley cat even when being attacked by every mangy dog in the alley."

"You can't teach that," Rodriguez said. "You can learn a lot of things, but you cannot change the natural personality of a player. With Serena, Venus, Justine and Jennifer Capriati, they have the personality that even when they weren't enjoying it, they could go through. There's no question that Maria, Serena and Venus are far and away from the other players. Their quality is too good."Henin put a hurt on all of those players, who also got back at the Belgian in some of the finest matches the tour has seen this century. They may not miss losing to her, but Serena and Sharapova have admitted to missing the thrill of the battle against Henin, trying to figure out which strategy would work against the cagey all-courter's high-variety game.

But Henin isn't coming back anytime soon, if at all, so now it's up one of three other elite players to see if they can dominate like the Belgian did in 2007.

Then there's Serena, she of nine Grand Slam titles and with the ambition to go well into the double digits. Now 27-years-old, Serena appears to be on a one Grand Slam per year pace. She's capable of doing better, but time is running short, and there's little room for the party circuit if she's ever going to dominate again. She, Venus and Jankovic will tee it up in Stuttgart this week. If Serena wants to stay at No. 1, she's going to have to keep her mind focused on the next six weeks — not an easy task after a hard year and when the offseason beckons.

"Serena has the quality, and everything she needs mentally and physically to do it she has," Rodriguez said. "But is she going take care of herself and prepare to go into action? If she does that, I think Serena has another two or three great years left."

Team Williams win 1st Round match in Stuttgart

Venus and Serena Williams have defeated Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) and Agnes Szavay (HUN) 6-4, 6-1 in 1st round action in Stuttgart, Germany. Their next opponenets will be the winner of Marie Elena Camerin (ITA)/Flavia Pennetta (ITA) vs. Andrea Hlavackova (CZE)/Lucie Hradecka (CZE). Great job Team Williams! Lookin' good!

September 28, 2008

Stuttgart - 1st Round - Doubles (Monday)

1st Round
Venus/Serena (USA)[4] vs D. Hantuchova (SVK)/A. Szavay (HUN)
Not before 6pm (12pm EST)

* The matches are scheduled to air on EUROSPORT. I have found that the following links allow viewing of the EUROSPORT Channel (but tournament TV coverage does not begin until TUESDAY):

Williams Sisters also playing doubles in Stuttgart

Spectators at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix will be able to savour another sporting highlight: Serena and Venus Williams will not only be playing in the singles but also in the doubles. “Sister Act - Part 2” in the Porsche Arena: the reigning US Open and Wimbledon singles winners proved twice this year just how powerful they are as a pair. After winning the doubles in Wimbledon together, they then teamed up to take the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing. In Stuttgart the Americans are seeded No. 4 and will meet Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) and Agnes Szavay (HUN) in the first round. The match will probably be scheduled for Monday.

Porsche Tennis Grand Prix Main Draw

World #1 Serena Williams leads the charge as the #1 seed at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (in Stuttgart, Germany) beginning Monday. Wow! It has been quite some time since Serena has been the #1 seed in a tournament. To grab her 1st Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title, Serena may have to clear the following field:

1st Rnd - Bye
2nd Rnd - Nicole Vaidisova / Na Li
Quarterfinal - Svetlana Kuznetsova
Semifinal - Elena Dementieva
Final - Venus / Dinara / Jelena

Noteworthy: The Williams Sisters are also playing doubles! I'm so excited!! The Williams Sisters: phenomenal singles and doubles players, a former and current world #1, Grand Slam and Olympic champions, living under the same roof, and after all these years, very much relevant to the game of tennis. The ULTIMATE Sister-Act!

Williams Sisters arrive in Stuttgart

Two of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix’s superstars are in town. Serena and Venus Williams landed at Stuttgart airport on Saturday and have checked into the Hotel Hilton Garden Inn Stuttgart NeckarPark. Whilst Serena, the world No. 1, her hitting partner Sascha Bajin and a friend arrived in Stuttgart on schedule from Miami via Düsseldorf, her sister, who was booked on another flight, had a trip with difficulties. Her flight from Miami to Frankfurt was cancelled as the aeroplane had a technical fault. She was forced to rebook and was eventually able to fly to Stuttgart via Zürich along with her father Richard, hitting partner David Witt and a friend – but only after a seven hour delay.

The sisters therefore arrived totally unplanned at Stuttgart Airport only five minutes apart from one another. Much to the delight of Tournament Director Markus Günthardt, who only had to make one “welcome to Stuttgart” journey. “I would have been very happy to have driven to the airport twice,” he said, “but Serena and Venus are both here. That’s the main thing.”

September 26, 2008


Happy 27th Birthday Serena! May God forever bless and keep you.

September 19, 2008

Serena attends event celebrating Israel and movie producer, Arnon Milchan

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Serena Williams, Seal, Warren Beatty, Annette Bening and other celebrities gathered to toast movie producer Arnon Milchan during a Hollywood event at Paramount Studios that celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel.

News Corp. President Peter Chernin presented Milchan with a lifetime achievement award from the Citizens' Empowerment Center in Israel, a nonprofit that promotes democracy and civic involvement.

During his acceptance speech, Milchan brought tennis star Serena Williams on stage to share the limelight during the soiree. Milchan and Williams met in 1998 when the one-time Israeli fertilizer merchant controlled the television rights to the Women's Tennis Association and brokered Williams' endorsement deal with Puma. "He was one of the people who always believed in me," Williams said.

September 18, 2008

Serena and Common in Vancouver

Serena Williams practices at Vancouver Lawn and Tennis Club while boyfriend Common plays Malkin Bowl
by: Marc Weber, The Province

Vancouver Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club members got a Grand Slam-sized surprise Wednesday. World No. 1 women's tennis player Serena Williams - whose rumoured boyfriend, hip-hop artist Common, performed at Malkin Bowl last night - showed up at the club for a two-hour practice. Word spread Tuesday night, and by 9 a.m. Wednesday members began to gather for an up-close look at the U.S. Open champion.

Williams eventually arrived at 12:45 p.m. and about 75 people watched indoors as the nine-time Grand Slam winner went through hitting and agility drills, interspersed with text-message sessions.

Afterwards, Williams - who proved that if you're good enough, you can violate a club's dress code - said she was enjoying her first trip to Vancouver. "I like it, it's such a beautiful day today," said Williams, who pulled out of this week's Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo with an ankle injury. "Venus [her sister] told me that Vancouver was a really pretty city. I got to see the water and everyone was great at the [club]."

She played coy when asked if she was in town to see Common - "maybe, maybe not," she said, laughing. For club member Pamela Steen, soaking up some Serena was a dream come true. "The funny thing is that I often dream about tennis when I've had a lesson, and I had a lesson Tuesday and I had her in my dream that night," said Steen. "Then I showed up and there she was. I didn't believe it. "It was amazing. She hits hard balls and her movement - she's just really beautiful out there."

Williams signed Steen's tennis bag and spent a few gracious minutes with members. One girl who snuck in a few words was Jenny Gjine of Sentinel Secondary. The 14-year-old, up-and-coming player skipped a class for the rare chance to see the world's best player in person. "What an amazing chance," Gjine said.

"On TV, it seems not real. When you get to see someone in real life like that, it just inspires you to play. It makes me want to get out there and hit and get as good as her. "I said, 'Congratulations for winning the U.S. Open,' and she said, 'I hope you do well in your tennis.' "

Serena vs The Top 10

Serena Williams (owner of 9 Grand Slam singles titles) is currently the #1 player in the world. This is her Head-To-Head matchup versus the current Top 10 players on the WTA tour:
  • Serena vs. (2) Jelena Jankovic: 4-3
  • Serena vs. (3) Ana Ivanovic: 1-0
  • Serena vs. (4) Elena Dementieva: 4-2
  • Serena vs. (5) Dinara Safina: 4-1
  • Serena vs. (6) Maria Sharapova: 5-2
  • Serena vs. (7) Svetlana Kuznetsova: 4-1
  • Serena vs. (8) Venus Williams: 9-8
  • Serena vs. (9) Vera Zvonareva: 5-1
  • Serena vs. (10) Agnieszka Radwanska: 2-0

Serena rules the roost versus the Top 10 players in the world. Quite impressive!

September 17, 2008

Another Fashion Week Serena-sighting

Serena Williams attends Baby Phat Spring 2009 at Roseland Ballroom on September 12, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic).

September 16, 2008

Serena's story to be published in 2009

A memoir by Serena Williams will be released in 2009 by Grand Central Publishing, which beat out a handful of other publishers bidding for the life story of the No. 1 ranked women's tennis player.

"Serena Williams is one of the world's most remarkable athletes," Grand Central editor Karen Kosztolnyik said Tuesday in a statement. "We've watched her rise to No. 1 despite physical and emotional setbacks, and her hard work and determination have inspired legions of fans young and old. Serena will give her memoir a strong motivational slant."

Financial terms for the book, currently untitled, were not disclosed, although a publishing official with knowledge of the negotiations said bidding reached at least $1.3 million. The official, citing the confidentiality of the negotiations, declined to be identified.

Williams, 26, has won nine Grand Slam titles and, with sister Venus Williams, won a gold medal in women's doubles at the recent Olympics in Beijing. Grand Central Publishing is a division of the Hachette Book Group. - Associated Press

September 13, 2008

Gotham & Hamptons celebrate Serena's win

Serena Williams attends Gotham and Hamptons magazines' celebration (in her honor for winning the US Open), at Pacha on September 11, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Malcolm Brown/Getty Images)

Serena at Calvin Klein Fashion Show (Part 2)

September 12, 2008

Serena's possible $1 Million dollar book deal

At least three publishers are currently vying for the rights to a book by nine-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams; offers are reportedly approaching $1 million and Suzanne Gluck at William Morris is said to be planning on meetings with the top three bidders.

The memoir by Williams, who just won her third U.S. Open last week, will include elements about race and her faith; according to two publishers who passed on the 30-page proposal given the expected steep price tag, sample chapters included one on a searing experience she had at a tournament a few years ago, and another on her trip to Africa. Veteran collaborator Dan Paisner, who’s worked on books with Montel Williams, Ed Koch, George Pataki and Whoopi Goldberg, among others, is co-writing.

Serena’s sister Venus sold a book to Dawn Davis at HarperCollins's Amistad imprint in July just after beating Serena to win her fifth Wimbledon title; The Coach Matters: Life Lessons Beyond the Playing Field is slated to be published in summer 2010, so readers may be in for another battle of the sisters.

by Matthew Thornton -- Publishers Weekly, 9/12/2008 11:58:00 AM

Serena attends Vivienne Tam fashion show

Serena attends the Vivienne Tam Spring/Summer 2009 fashion show

Serena attends Calvin Klein fashion show

Serena Williams attends the Calvin Klein Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on September 11, 2008 in New York City.

Serena attends benefit for LeBron Foundation

Jay-Z, Serena and LeBron James attend a benefit for the LeBron Conde Family Foundation at the Ralph Lauren mansion.

Williams Sisters attend fashion show

Tennis players Venus and Serena Williams attend the Zac Posen Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Tent, Bryant Park on September 11, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for IMG)

September 11, 2008

Williams Sisters to make first joint visit to Africa

The Williams sisters, in a meeting at the Plaza Athenee Hotel in Manhattan (New York) confirmed their visit for Nov. 10 to Nov 12,’’ the coordinator of the visit, Mr. Godwin Kienka, said Tuesday.

Mr. Kienka, who runs the International Tennis Academy in Lagos and publishes a tennis magazine - Tennis Africa, said the sisters would be coming with their mother, Oracene, as well as sister and manager Isha Price, trainers and other staffers.

He said the sisters would fly to the commercial city of Lagos directly from Doha, the capital of Qatar, after playing in the last tournament on the WTA calendar in that city. Mr. Kienka said the final confirmation of the visit was made during the New York meeting this week, and that Serena’s clothing sponsor Nike, as well as Wilson racquet and bag sponsors for both, are also interested in supporting the project.

The theme of the historic visit will be ’’Touching 1000 lives’’, adding that in addition to the sisters adopting an orphanage for sports programmes, ’’they will play an exhibition, run a short clinic and impact (on) 1000 youths.’’ It would be Venus’ first visit to Africa, whereas Serena had been to Ghana and Senegal. Meanwhile, Mr. Kienka said a committee to plan the visit had been set up, with Chief A.K. Horsefall, former boss of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as chairman.

Serena: Back on Top after 5 years!

September 9, 2008

Serena in Times Square

2008 US Open Women's Singles Champion Serena Williams displaying her trophy in Times Square, NYC. Photo by: Rob Tannenbaum, NASDAQ MarketSite

Serena attends Luca Luca fashion show

Tennis player Serena Williams attends the Luca Luca Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Promenade, Bryant Park on September 8, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for IMG)

Serena's post (championship) match interview

Serena on ESPN SportsCenter

Advantage Luke Jensen: Serena wins US Open

Serena on the Today Show

September 8, 2008

Serena to play charity event in Baltimore

Serena will headline the PNC Tennis Classic Feature Match at the 1st Mariner Arena on Friday, November 21 at 7 p.m., tournament founder Pam Shriver announced today. More participating players will be announced in the coming weeks.

The 2008 Tennis Classic, the area’s premier charitable sporting event, will be celebrate its 23rd anniversary in Baltimore thanks to the support of PNC Bank, The Baltimore Sun and other sponsors and supporters. Net proceeds from the Tennis Classic are distributed to children’s charities under the guidance of the Baltimore Community Foundation. Since 1986, over $4 million has been raised and distributed to many of the area’s needy non-profits.

"We are thrilled that Serena has made playing in Baltimore part of her year end plans," tournament chairman and founder Shriver said. "To be showcasing the talents of one of the greatest tennis players of all time is like a dream come true. Serena, now the world’s No. 1 with nine Grand Slam titles and a second Olympic gold medal in Beijing, is an icon on and off the court that transcends the world of sports. The fans of Baltimore should expect a great show and hosting the event on a Friday night will only help to enhance the excitement."

Tickets are on sale now though all Ticketmaster outlets including the 1st Mariner Arena, or by calling Ticketmaster Phonecharge at 410-547-SEAT (7328). Sponsorship and ticket information can be obtained by calling the Tournament Office at (410) 296-2929 or via the web at

The look of a Champion

U.S. Open tennis champion Serena Williams poses with her trophy in Times Square in New York City.

Serena helps give US Open a huge ratings boost

Women's final draws best TV rating since '02

Serena Williams' win over Jelena Jankovic on Sunday, pushed back a day because of rain, earned a 4.3 overnight rating and a 7 share on CBS, the network said Monday. That's up 65 percent from the 2.6/5 last year when Justine Henin beat Svetlana Kuznetsova. It's the highest rating since an all-Williams final in 2002, when Serena's victory over Venus drew a 7.2/13.

The rating is the percentage watching a program among homes with televisions, and the share is the percentage tuned into the broadcast among those households with TVs on at the time. Overnight ratings measure the country's largest markets.

A night to remember: Serena returns to #1

Order restored and mission accomplished!

(A few things Serena accomplished by winning the 2008 US Open):
  • Regained the #1 position in Women's Tennis
  • Became just the sixth woman in the Open Era to win nine or more Grand Slam singles titles, joining Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles
  • Beat three players who she suffered losses to this season: (Venus Williams - Wimbledon, Dinara Safina - Berlin and Jelena Jankovic - Australian Open)
  • Set record for longest gap between stints at #1 for any player; was last #1 August 2003
  • Now leads Head-to-Head against Jelena Jankovic: 4-3
  • Claimed title WITHOUT dropping a set
  • Has now overtaken Martina Navratilova for the #3 spot on the WTA Tour's All-Time Prize Money list

Congratulations Serena on your 3rd US Open Title!

September 7, 2008

Serena: US Open Champion and World #1

Serena wins ninth Slam in US Open thriller

American Serena Williams won her ninth Grand Slam title by beating tenacious Serbian Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 7-5 in a high-quality US Open final.

Displaying the talent and tenacity that helped her dominate tennis earlier in the decade, Williams outlasted Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 7-5 Sunday night in a thrill-a-minute match chock full of marvelous strokes and momentum swings to win her third U.S. Open championship and ninth Grand Slam title. And there was this "added bonus," as Williams termed it: She returns to No. 1 in the rankings. As the women met at the net afterward, Williams felt compelled to say to Jankovic, "I'm sorry I got so excited."

No apology necessary. Four times a single point from heading to a third set, Williams was simply relentless. She took the final four games and took the title without dropping a set. The closest she came to losing one? In the quarterfinals, when she beat older sister Venus in two tiebreakers. On this night, Venus was in the guest box, cheering for Kid Sis. "Serena was a better player tonight," Jankovic said. "She was just too good tonight."

It was Williams' first triumph at Flushing Meadows since 2002, and it guaranteed that the American will lead the rankings Monday for the first time since August 2003 - the longest gap between stints at No. 1 for a woman.

Jankovic was in that spot for one week last month and would have returned there by winning a title match that was postponed from Saturday night because of Tropical Storm Hanna. As good as the second-seeded Jankovic is at retrieving balls and extending points, Williams can do that with the best of them, too, leading to point after point lasting more than a dozen shots as both women scurried around Arthur Ashe Stadium, their sneakers squeaking loudly.

Both sent close-range shots directly at the other. But the difference in strength was clear: Repeatedly after those lengthy exchanges, Jankovic was left shaking her racket hand, trying to lessen the sting. On the match's very first point, Williams drove a backhand winner with such force, such ferocity, that she sent one of her earrings flying. The fourth-seeded Williams finished with 44 winners, 29 more than Jankovic, and smacked serves at up to 120 mph, a 14 mph edge over her opponent's fastest.
The finish was fantastic. Williams somehow prolonged the second set after falling behind love-40 while serving and trailing 5-3.

Those three break points were set points for Jankovic, and Williams deleted each one, with a backhand winner, an overhead winner and then by forcing an errant backhand on a 10-stroke point. A 98 mph service winner left a frustrated Jankovic tossing her racket up in the air like a majorette's baton. When she sailed the next return long, Williams was at 5-4.

The next game was filled with as much drama as many a match.
Jankovic earned her fourth set point with an ace, then blew it with a double fault. Williams earned six break points and frittered away five. On No. 6, they produced a spectacular 22-stroke point that Williams ended with a forehand passing shot down the line.

As quickly as it appeared things were getting away from Williams, she regained the lead. The next game featured more brilliant play by both, including a 24-stroke exchange Jankovic won with a forehand, and an 11-stroke point Williams took with a perfect stab volley.

Now up 6-5, four points from the title, Williams flexed her arm muscles and gritted her teeth. Four points from defeat, Jankovic went up to the bouncing ball and kicked it. Serving to stay in it, Jankovic wasted a game point with a double-fault. Then she dropped a groundstroke into the net, presenting Williams with second match point. Williams converted, ending a 14-stroke point with a backhand winner. Her father climbed out of his second-row seat to help celebrate, while her mother and Venus applauded in the guest box.

September 6, 2008

US Open Final: Serena vs. Jelena postponed

Saturday night’s Women’s Singles Final (Williams vs. Jankovic) has been cancelled and rescheduled for Sunday at 9p.m. in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The final was scheduled for Saturday night but was postponed to Sunday after the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna dumped rain and strong winds on the New York area. It's the first time since 1974 that the U.S. Open women's championship match was not played on a Saturday. That year, Billie Jean King beat Evonne Goolagong on Monday; Goolagong's semifinal had been suspended because of rain on Friday and wasn't completed until Sunday.

September 5, 2008

Final Bound: A picture is worth a thousand words

US Open: FINAL (Saturday; pending weather)

Serena Williams (USA)[4] vs Jelena Jankovic (SRB)[2]
Head-to-Head 3-3
Arthur Ashe Stadium Court (7pm EST)

US Open on CBS Network

The final is scheduled for Saturday night, but forecasts calling for rain much of the day prompted tournament organizers to announce contingency plans that could include postponing the match until Sunday.

They have something in "Common"

Two-time Grammy Award winning Rap Artist (and rumored boyfriend), Common, hits the practice courts with 8 time Grand Slam (singles) winner, Serena Williams.