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Venus nets a 'special seed'

wire services
Published January 16, 2004

MELBOURNE, Australia - In an unusual move, Venus Williams was seeded third for the Australian Open on Thursday - eight spots higher than her current world ranking.

Andy Roddick and Justine Henin-Hardenne, the world's top-ranked tennis players, earned No. 1 seedings. For the most part, the seedings - 32 each for men and women - generally followed the ATP and WTA rankings.

But an exception was made for Williams, last year's runner-up to sister Serena.

Venus is seeded behind Belgians Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, first and second on the WTA rankings. Amelie Mauresmo of France and American Lindsay Davenport round out the top five.

The Australian Open usually lists its seeded players according to their world rankings, but tournament director Paul McNamee said an exception was made for Venus, formerly the top-ranked player.

"Venus will be seeded three under a special seeding which the WTA had recommended for the next group of tournaments," McNamee said.

Venus missed nine tournaments last year with an abdominal injury.

McENROE TOOK STEROIDS: John McEnroe unwittingly took steroids given to him by doctors during his career. He took what he thought were anti-inflammatories or painkillers - but later learned they were steroids, his manager said. "Twenty years ago, he was given medicine, drugs or whatever, by a doctor, as were many other tennis players. There was no testing. The rules were different," Gary Swain said. "He found out later they were steroids. If he knew what he knows now, he wouldn't have taken the stuff." In an interview with the London Daily Telegraph, McEnroe acknowledged using "a form of steroid" and called for the ATP to deal severely with players accused of using drugs. "I'm not sure some of the legal prescriptions, some of the strong, anti-inflammatory drugs people are given for speeding up the healing process, are that far removed from illegal ones," he said.

HALL OF FAME: Steffi Graf, Stefan Edberg and Dodo Cheney will join the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July. Graf and Edberg were elected in the recent player category by a media panel. Cheney was selected in the master player category by a committee that includes Hall members.

ADIDAS INTERNATIONAL: Justine Henin-Hardenne defeated Chanda Rubin 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals in Sydney, Australia.

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