tampabay.com

Doubles winner Raymond hoping Gators follow her lead

By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published April 3, 2006


KEY BISCAYNE - During a weekend in which her beloved Florida Gators played in the men's basketball Final Four, doubles star and former UF standout Lisa Raymond picked up some impressive hardware of her own.

Again.

Teaming with Samantha Stosur , Raymond defeated Liezel Huber and 49-year-old Martina Navratilova 6-4, 7-5 Sunday to win the women's doubles title. The championship was the 54th of her career, something Raymond, an NCAA singles champion while in Gainesville, finds a bit ironic.

"The funny thing is, I never played doubles in college," the 32-year-old said. "I've picked good partners. I enjoy going out there and playing doubles."

After Sunday's match, Raymond, who has more than $6-million in earnings, said she has tracked the Gators' NCAA Tournament run and plans to watch from the tour's next stop in Amelia Island tonight's championship game against UCLA. But while Raymond confessed she has "boxes of Gator stuff," she said Stosur, an Australia native, "doesn't know what a Gator is."

Rest assured Raymond is working on her.

A NEW TITLE: In New York today, men's champion Roger Federer will be named a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, the United Nations fund that helps children living in poverty in developing countries.

"I've been lucky in life, and able to pursue my passion for tennis since I was 6," Federer said. "It's important to me to help the many children throughout the world who do not have the basic resources they need. I am absolutely convinced that sports can help overcome prejudice and build bridges between cultures and nations."

Federer has been active in various charities. After the tsunami of 2005, he instigated several fundraising initiatives, including the ATP All-Star Rally for Relief. In 2003, he established the Roger Federer Foundation, which helps fund projects for disadvantaged children, primarily in South Africa, the country in which the Swiss star's mother was raised.

BY THE NUMBERS: Ivan Ljubicic has zero wins in three ATP Masters Series finals. ... There were three player challenges in the men's final. None was successful. ... Boris Becker , who was in attendance Sunday, won six majors. ... It took Ljubicic seven appearances in Key Biscayne to reach his first final.