Venus Williams sets serve mark: 125 mph 18-year-old predicts she'll go even higher


June 26, 1998|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

WIMBLEDON, England -- So, Venus Williams, do you have any idea which of your serves traveled at 125 mph to set a world women's record yesterday?

"No," she said. "I wasn't going for any big ones."

Well, that's an uncomfortable thought for the opposition at Wimbledon, where Williams continued her climb with her booming serves and blistering ground strokes in a 6-1, 6-2 second-round victory over Barbara Schett.

Williams' record serve was a few clicks faster than Brenda Schultz-McCarthy's 123 mph special at Wimbledon in 1997.

But the scary part is, Williams said she can bash the ball harder.

"Right now, I've just turned 18, so I'm just going to get stronger and I would imagine that my peak would be at 22 or 23," she said. "I would be at my strongest. And in the last year, I gained 9 miles an hour on my serve."

Williams has gained more than speed, though. She is more confident and more aggressive on grass.

And, she could be heading for yet another showdown with her 16-year-old sister, Serena, who destroyed the heralded Croatian teen Mirjana Lucic, 6-3, 6-0. Venus defeated Serena in two previous clashes.

But before they meet in Wimbledon's fourth round, Serena has to play Virginia Ruano-Pascual, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Kimberly Po.

Meanwhile, Venus will face the winner of a match between Tara Snyder and Chanda Rubin, which was tied at 7-7 in the third set before play was halted by darkness.

Even though Venus Williams has attracted attention for a few more years, many in tennis claim that Serena Williams could be the better grass-court player.

"Grass really helps my game," Serena Williams said. "It helps me to come to the net more."

Asked if she was happy with her form at Wimbledon, Serena Williams said she was "neutral."

"I made little mistakes on my backhand and forehand, so there's always room for improvement," she said after her impressive victory.

The Williams sisters have a healthy rivalry, with one always trying to outdo the other. But their rivalry ends at the edge of the tennis court.

Still, even Serena was taken aback by Venus' record serve.

"Oh, I really don't know if I can catch up with that," she said. "I mean, she's much bigger than I am and she's taller and she might have more power. But I hope to get in the 120s one day also. That is really amazing."

Pub Date: 6/26/98

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