Sun, May 25, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Williams'sister act may come early at 2003 French Open

AP , PARIS

The streak of Sister Slams could be extended at the French Open.

The rankings no longer guarantee that Serena and Venus Williams will play each other only in the final of a tournament, but the draw at Roland Garros put them on opposite sides of the field Friday.

Serena beat Venus to win last year's French Open, a result they duplicated at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, and again at the Australian Open in January.

That made them the first two women in Grand Slam history -- siblings or otherwise -- to meet in four consecutive finals.

The sisters were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 from June 2002 through April, and therefore they couldn't meet earlier than a championship match anywhere. But with Venus now third, she could have been placed in top-ranked Serena's half of the bracket at the French Open, where play starts Monday.

Instead, Serena's potential semifinal opponent is fourth-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium. Venus could have a final four matchup against No. 2 Kim Clijsters, another Belgian and the 2001 French Open runner-up.

The women's quarterfinals might be Venus Williams versus 2001 champion Jennifer Capriati, Serena Williams versus Amelie Mauresmo, Clijsters vs. Lindsay Davenport, and Henin-Hardenne versus Chanda Rubin.

"There's definitely a lot of competition out there. You have Clijsters and Davenport and, obviously, Venus. There's just a lot of players out there that you have to look out for," Serena said.

"I don't necessarily think of these particular people, I just focus on who I'm playing in the first round."

That would be Barbara Rittner, who has lost five straight matches and is ranked 87th in the world.

Venus will start against a qualifier and doesn't appear to have a tough match until maybe meeting 13th-seeded Elena Dementieva in the fourth round.

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