Venus wins Billie Jean King Cup in New York
Originally published on: 05/03/10 15:37
A leg injury denied Serena Williams the chance to avenge her controversial US Open semi-final defeat to Kim Clijsters, so sister Venus happily took care of things for her. That’s what sisters are for, eh?
The elder Williams sister triumphed 6-4 3-6 7-5 over the Belgian at the Billie Jean Cup tennis exhibition at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, just days after defending back-to-back titles in Dubai and Acapulco.
Also featuring in the New York exhibition were former French Open champions Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova, who lost to Clijsters and Williams respectively in one-set long semi-finals.
Kuznetsova took an early 2-0 lead against Williams but struggled for consistency with her serve, losing out to the seven-time Grand Slam champ after double faulting at 15-40, 4-5 down to hand over victory.
“You would like for it to last a little bit longer because one set is very difficult to play,” said the Russian. “It was fun. The match was close, and I enjoyed the experience.”
Serbian Ivanovic continues to struggle to return to the form that took her to the French Open title in 2008 and – albeit in an exhibition – succumbed to defeat to the US Open champion after losing 7-2 in the tie-break.
“I think our games in some ways are similar,” Ivanovic said of Clijsters. “It was a tough match. i was actually very nervous, but it makes it an important match. I just wanted to do so well.”
Clijsters was equally keen for a good performance in New York, having not played a single match in February after her disastrous near-double bagel defeat to Nadia Petrova in the third round of the Australian Open.
Had it happened in her ‘first career’, the 26-year-old Belgian would have likely hopped on the first flight to Paris, Memphis or Dubai to regain her form, but with a family to think about, the Belgian comeback queen has different priorities now.
“My main concern is to prevent injuries and be mentally fresh for each tournament,” Clijsters said. “I’m focused on being a wife, a mother and an athlete.”
But after combining the event with a visit to New York with husband Bryan Lynch to celebrate daughter Jada’s second birthday, Clijsters believes her participation in the Billie Jean Cup will leave her in good stead for the upcoming major events of the American hard-court season.
“It will help me with Indian Wells,” she said. “In my first career there were plenty of easy scores, but now early rounds are just as tough. Lots of the top players have to be aware that the young up-and-comers are eager to beat us.”
The seasoned pro’s are capable of it too, as 29-year-old Williams proved after breaking Clijsters in the twelfth game of the third set to seal victory, and a whopping $400,000 share of the $1.2million tournament prize money.
Though attended by a sizeable 11,702 strong crowd – absent from the tournament was its namesake – 12-time Grand Slam champion King – who is currently recovering from a double-knee replacement.