Sunday, June 29, 2003

Serena still waiting for a test at Wimbledon

Wimbledon notebook

By Stephen Wade
The Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England - Serena Williams is still waiting for her first test at Wimbledon.

The defending champion had little trouble with fellow American Laura Granville, beating her 6-3, 6-1 Saturday to set up a fourth-round match against Elena Dementieva.

The five-time Grand Slam champion has a powerful serve, but the Russian may be able to handle it.

"She has a great return," said Williams, who will be playing Dementieva for the first time. "She stays low, she moves forward. She has a really good game in that aspect."

Williams commiserated with 16-year-old Russian Maria Sharapova, who has become the photographer's favorite this year.

"I look at it this way. I'd rather be recognized and stopped and harassed as opposed to not because that means I'm doing well.

"It has its perks. I call them celebrity upgrades."



Mark Philippoussis seems happy with his new home.

The Australian defeated Radek Stepanek 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (6) Saturday to reach the fourth round.

Philippoussis moved from Florida to San Diego after Wimbledon last year, partly because "maybe Florida was a little bit unlucky for me."

"I went for a surfing trip for a week. I ended up going to San Diego, hooked up with some guys there. I fell in love with the people there. I just felt like it was time for a change."



The Russian word for the number 5 is "pyat."

That's how many Russian women are into the fourth round - a Grand Slam record - and three are teenagers. They are: 21-year-old Elena Dementieva, 21-year-old Anastasia Myskina, 16-year-old Maria Sharapova, 18-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova and 18-year-old Vera Zvonareva.

Absent is 22-year-old Anna Kournikova, whose tennis game has stalled since she reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in 1997. She withdrew this year with an injury.



With Tim Henman the only Englishman still playing at Wimbledon, the local media are desperate for another English angle.

How about Alexander Popp, the German with an English mother?

Asked whether he'd like to play for England, he replied: "Obviously I've been playing for Germany the last 26 years and it doesn't look like it's going to change."

The English media asked American James Blake similar questions. His mother is also English.



Lleyton Hewitt's father, Glynn, has jumped to the defense of his son, who became only the second defending men's champion to lose in the first round.

After the loss, he was criticized for sticking too close to his mother and father - they travel with him - and for an inability to change tactics to suit the conditions.

"It says a lot about fickle natures and jealousy," Glynn Hewitt said. "To Lleyton, he's lost a match - an important match at an important event - and it hurts. But this has enabled him to learn whose support he can appreciate."



Nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova has come up with her perfect tennis player: Pete's Sampras' serve, Steff Graf's forehand, Justine Henin-Hardenne's backhand, the legs of Serena Williams, Chris Evert's mind - and her own volley.



Jennifer Capriati misses curtseying to the Royal Box, a tradition that was eliminated this year.

"Just before you went out on the court they would show you how to do it," she said. "There would be a guy showing you how to do it."

Capriati was asked if he was wearing a skirt.

"He was wearing pants," she said.



The Royal Box was filled with sport's celebrities Saturday.

Among those famous non-Britons in attendance were: former U.S. Open golf champion Retief Goosen (South Africa), 1960 Wimbledon champion Neale Fraser (Australia), former tennis star Pancho Sergura (Ecuador) and 1953 and '55 Wimbledon finalist Kurt Nielsen (Denmark).

The list of well-known Britons included: Newcastle soccer manager Bobby Robson, former cricket umpire Dickie Bird, former soccer star Gary Lineker, Artic explorer Pen Hadow, 1961 Wimbledon champion Angela Mortimer, Olympic gold-medal rowers James Cracknell, Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave, and English rugby stars Jason Leonard, Lawrence Dallaglio and Jonny Wilkinson.

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