Archive for Monday, May 5, 2003

Gut feeling sidelines Williams

Strained stomach muscle dooms Venus vs. Mauresmo

May 5, 2003

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— Venus Williams sat in the changeover chair, a hand on her stomach.

The pain of a strained muscle forced her to quit during the third set of the J&S Cup final against Amelie Mauresmo Sunday, leaving Williams' status for the French Open in doubt.

Mauresmo, who lost all five previous matches against Williams, led the championship match at the clay-court tournament, 6-7 (6), 6-0, 3-0, when play was stopped.

"The injury isn't good," Williams said. "They've told me that an abdominal strain needs more time to heal than a regular strain, so I have to take advice and see how I'm doing."

The French Open, the only Grand Slam tournament played on clay, starts in three weeks. Williams reached the final there for the first time last year, losing to her sister, Serena.

"I can walk around fine," Williams said, "but I don't have a desk job."

Even if she can play at Roland Garros, her preparation certainly will be hampered. Williams already had pulled out of the May 12-18 Italian Open, saying she didn't want to play too much leading up to the French Open, which begins on May 26.

She also withdrew from the upcoming German Open, where she was seeded second.

Williams, who has won four major titles, was hurt in the first set Sunday but didn't realize right away how badly.

"I thought it was a stomach ache," she said.

For Mauresmo, the J&S Cup represents her ninth career title.

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