Venus Williams the only U.S. woman among 32 seeds

August 30, 2010|By Diane Pucin, Tribune Newspapers

NEW YORK — It is a question that makes Venus Williams weary.

Her eyes drop, her shoulders tighten. She is here at the U.S. Open — which begins Monday — a 30-year-old having won seven Grand Slams, and she does not want to talk about the starkness of this bit of information:

Williams is the only American among the 32 women's seeds.

Melanie Oudin, the bubbly teenager who giggled as she ran through the 2009 U.S. Open, shoving aside higher-rated, harder-hitting players with no evidence of nerves until she was halted in the quarterfinals by eventual runner-up Caroline Wozniacki, has won only a single match at the three majors this year. She comes to the Open unseeded with a dangerous first-round match Monday against a tricky veteran, Olga Savchuk.

Williams hasn't hit a competitive shot since Wimbledon because ofa crankily sore knee, so she is not prone to analyzing what is wrong with American women's tennis.

"I just think about my own match," Williams said. "In the past we've had such a great tradition of American players who did well. To have that missing is a void for us. I don't know if we have a system down for getting that talent and following it through in America. In the meantime Serena and I continue to play well."

In fact, the younger Williams isn't playing in New York. After winning Wimbledon for her second major title of the year, Serena needed surgery after cutting her foot and is targeting her return in Tokyo next month.

But here, where Americans love to cheer their own, the women's draw is void of an American contender other than Venus Williams, who has won the Open twice (2000, '01).

Of the 12 American women in the main draw, only four — Williams, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Vania King and Jill Craybas — got in without either qualifying or getting a wild card.

Other than Williams, the biggest names in the draw are the top-seeded Wozniacki, defending champion Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova, a three-time major champion who won here in 2006.

dpucin@tribune.com

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