Saturday, July 26, 2014

Serena to play at Stanford after weird Wimbledon exit

Serena Williams is scheduled to return to the Bank
of the West Classic for the first time since beating
lucky loser CoCo Vandeweghe for the 2012 title.
Vandeweghe also is entered in next week's tourna-
ment at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   On Wednesday night at Stanford, Serena Williams is scheduled to return to the court for the first time since her bizarre exit from Wimbledon.
   Seeded first in the Bank of the West Classic, Williams received a first-round bye. She will meet the winner of the match between 22-year-old Karolina Pliskova, a Czech ranked 45th in the world, and 43-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm, ranked 87th.
   The draw for the tournament at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium was held Friday. Qualifying begins today (see schedule below), and the main draw is set for Monday through Aug. 3.
   Three days after a shocking loss to Alize Cornet of France in the third round at Wimbledon, a disoriented Williams retired from her second-round doubles match with sister Venus at 0-3 in the first set on July 1.
   Serena had trouble bouncing and catching the ball before serving, double-faulted feebly all four times at 0-2 and quit in tears. The official explanation was that Williams was suffering from a "viral illness."
   Later in July, Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told France's Tennis Magazine that the world No. 1 is going through a "difficult period."
   "I have never discussed private matters, and I am not going to talk about them now," said Mouratoglou, who has been romantically linked to Williams, although neither has confirmed it. "There have been difficult things. For sure, Serena is in a difficult phase, but I will leave it there."
   This will be the second time in three years that Williams, 32, has come to Stanford under strange circumstances. Shortly after winning Wimbledon in 2010, she received 12 stitches in one foot and six in another when she was cut by glass at a restaurant in Munich.
   One week later, Williams had surgery for a lacerated tendon on the top of her right foot. In February 2011, she was treated for life-threatening blood clots in her lungs.
   In all, Williams sat out for 11 months. In the third tournament of her comeback, she won the Bank of the West Classic for the first time in 2011. Williams repeated in 2012 but did not play last year.
   With one more Grand Slam singles title, Williams can tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth on the all-time list at 18. However, Williams has lost in the fourth round or earlier in all three majors this year.
   Venus Williams, who won the Bank of the West Classic in 2000 and 2002, is scheduled to return for the first time since losing to Marion Bartoli in the 2009 final.
   Venus, 34, will face a qualifier to be determined in the first round and could meet fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, the 2010 champion, in the second round. Both former world No. 1s have had their own health issues.
   Venus was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an energy-sapping disease, in 2011. The last of her seven Grand Slam singles titles came at Wimbledon in 2008.
   Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion, has missed most of this year with a left foot injury.
   The Bank of the West Classic features six of the world's top 12: Serena Williams; No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, last year's runner-up; No. 8 Angelique Kerber; No. 10 Azarenka; No. 11 Ana Ivanovic, formerly No. 1; and No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova, the defending champion.
   To purchase tickets for the Bank of the West Classic, visit www.bankofthewestclassic.com or call 866-WTA-TIXS (866-982-8497).
TODAY'S SCHEDULE
First-round qualifying
(Starting at 10 a.m.)
Stadium
   Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia, vs. Raquel Kops-Jones, United States.
   Arantxa Parra Santonja, Spain, vs. Petra Martic, Croatia.
   Aleksandra Wozniak, Canada, vs. Caroline Doyle, United States.
   Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic, vs. Carol Zhao, United States.
Court 6
   Daria Gavrilova, Russia, vs. Paula Kania, Poland.
   Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, vs. Naomi Osaka, Japan.
   Michaela Gordon, United States, vs. Sachia Vickery, United States.
   Marina Shamayko, Russia, vs. Yi-Fan Xu, China.

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