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Illnesses, injuries and now curses for Serena

By DARRELL FRY, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 4, 2001

WIMBLEDON, England -- Serena Williams, who was sick during her loss to Jennifer Capriati and left the court at one point, has had a history of illnesses and injuries during matches. It has gotten so bad that Serena said Tuesday that she think she's cursed.

"Seems like every time I get up, I'm only to be put down," she said. "I think my problem is I'm a hypochondriac."

Joking aside, her illness also caused her to withdraw from the doubles field Tuesday along with her sister Venus. The sisters have been criticized for pulling out of tournaments with questionable injuries and illnesses, so this one raised some eyebrows.

WTA officials, however, confirmed that Serena was ill Tuesday. "Serena began having pains and problems with her stomach on Saturday," tour health care provider Michelle Gebrian said. "She informed us she was feeling ill."

WELCOME WAGON: Saddlebrook Resort officials aren't the only ones glad to have the WTA Tour headquarters coming to Pasco County. Capriati said she's looking forward to it as well. "I think it's great. I'm really excited about it," she said. "What more could I ask? I'm going to have access to them, to their trainers, to the therapists there. I think it will really help Saddlebrook a lot."

SISTER LOVE: With Serena eliminated, Venus Williams said she's even more determined to win the title. "If I can't do it for myself, I'll do it for her," Venus said.

BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE: To say that Conchita Martinez took her loss to Justine Henin hard would be an understatement. Martinez said nothing went right for her in the 6-1, 6-0 blowout. "I think it was one of the worst days of my life," Martinez said.

SWITZERLAND'S SUPERMAN: Roger Federer, the 19-year-old who ousted seven-time champion Pete Sampras, is getting the royal treatment back home.

"Federer is one of the big guys now," said the mass-circulation daily Blick in a front page headline Tuesday.

Federer's Centre Court debut at the All England Club was a childhood dream come true and almost went perfectly. Federer forgot the traditional bow to the Royal Box.

Federer comes from the picturesque northern Swiss city of Basel. "Sensational Federer breaks the Sampras spell," said his hometown daily Basler Zeitung, devoting three pages to the town's rising star.

LOOKING FOR DAYLIGHT: Todd Martin, who lost to Tim Henman in five sets in a match that was called because of darkness Monday, expressed his disillusionment with Wimbledon's system of starting main-court bmatches at 1 p.m. "I just find it still a little bit distressing that there's 17 hours of daylight here; on a beautiful day like (Monday), we can't get three matches in," Martin said. "I think it's unfair to Tim now to have to come out here and play two sets today when the other seven (quarterfinalists) have all had a day's worth of rest."

GOVERNMENT HELP: British tennis is so bad, the government is stepping in with plans to improve things.

Fred Perry in 1936 is the last British man to win Wimbledon, and the last woman champion was Virginia Wade in 1977. Tim Henman is the only surviving player in this year's tournament. All the British women were out early last week.

Britain's new sports minister, Richard Caborn, is promising about $1.12-million in new funding to state and private schools to promote the game.

"There are 140,000 youngsters playing competitively in France and only 18,000 here," he said. "If we don't build the base, you don't get the success."

GOOD FOR TENNIS: Venus and Serena Williams are controversial, but Lindsay Davenport believes they are good for tennis.

"They've been probably the best thing that's happened to tennis," she said to reporters. "I mean, everything that they say or even that dad (Richard) says ... you guys have a heart attack about (it) and write it all over the place.

"They give us so much exposure. They create all this drama for the sport. ... I think people are so intrigued by it that it's still helping the women's game tremendously."

WHEELCHAIR WIMBLEDON: Saturday, wheelchair players get their first chance to play. Four of Britain's top players will give a demonstration on an outside court.


Tuesday's highlights

MEN: Tim Henman (6) def. Todd Martin (23) 6-7 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

WOMEN: Venus Williams (2) def. Nathalie Tauziat (9) 7-5, 6-1; Lindsay Davenport (3) def. Kim Clijsters (7) 6-1, 6-2; Jennifer Capriati (4) def. Serena Williams (5) 6-7 (7-4), 7-5, 6-3; Justine Henin (8) def. Conchita Martinez (19) 6-1, 6-0.

Today's featured matches

MEN: Nicolas Escude (24) vs. Andre Agassi (2); Thomas Enqvist (10) vs. Patrick Rafter (3); Marat Safin (4) vs. Goran Ivanisevic; Roger Federer (15) vs. Tim Henman (6).

TODAY ON TV: 10 a.m., Ch. 8; 1 p.m., TNT.


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