TENNIS: Venus in conflict over arm patch

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The Independent Online
VENUS WILLIAMS has conceded only five games on the way to the the third round of the United States Open, where she was a finalist last year. The 18-year-old American has been able to loosen up with comfortable victories against Germany's Elena Wagner, who only won one game in the first round, and Luxemborg's Anne Kremer, who was defeated yesterday, 6-1, 6-3.

Kremer, ranked No 137 in the world, detained Williams on the Arthur Ashe Stadium Court for 58 minutes, during which Williams patched up a row with the Women's Tennis Association Tour.

The Williams sisters are rarely out of the spotlight. Venus's latest collection of sleeveless tennis dresses have not impressed the WTA Tour, who insist that leading players wear the Tour's logo patch on a sleeve.

Fines range from from $100 (pounds 63) for a first offence, imposed on Williams after her opening match against Wagner, up to $25,000 for subsequent matches. Williams avoided being fined $500 for a second offence yesterday by wearing the patch on a shoulder strap.

"It just seems I am always in the middle of controversy, so it is nothing new for me," she said. "Generally, I always wear the patch when I play." Teasing reporters who asked for details of her next line of clothing, she said: "I think we will have to wait for the ultimate outfit, but they are going to get better each time."

Serena Williams, Venus's younger sister, is next in the frame. Short of calling in Don King, it would be difficult to amplify the hype surrounding the 16-year-old Serena's third-round match against Irina Spirlea, the Romanian No 8 seed.

Family honour is at stake. In last year's semi-final between Spirlea and Venus Williams, it may be remembered, neither player would concede ground as they walked to their chairs during a changeover. The result was a confrontation, shoulder-to-shoulder. The incident became the talk of the tournament.

Richard Williams, father of the pair, said Spirlea was lucky she had not bumped into Serena, who might have knocked her down. The younger Williams sister did not shy away from such a suggestion when interviewed after her second-round win against Bulgaria's Pavlina Stoyanova, 6-2, 6-1.

"Sometimes I can get out of control," Serena said. "If that [bump] had happened, I probably wouldn't be her here right now. I probably wouldn't be able to play on the WTA Tour."

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, the French Open champion, seeded No 4, advanced to round three with 6-3, 6-2 win against Fabiola Zuluaga, a Colombian teenager, ranked No 129. The South African Amanda Coetzer, seeded No 13, beat Raluca Sandu, of Romania, 6-0, 6-2.

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