Athens security fears fail to deter Serena

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The Independent Online

In one of her latest tennis outfits, Serena Williams looks dressed to carry the Olympic torch. However, the Wimbledon champion appears to change her mind about competing in Athens this August as often as she alters her clothes.

In one of her latest tennis outfits, Serena Williams looks dressed to carry the Olympic torch. However, the Wimbledon champion appears to change her mind about competing in Athens this August as often as she alters her clothes.

Last Sunday at the Nasdaq-100 Open here, Williams said she was worried about security: "If it became a real concern to where I personally wouldn't feel comfortable, then I wouldn't go to Athens because I like my life, I like waking up in the morning."

Within 24 hours, she contradicted herself: "I just said that I was aware of things that happen in the world, but I will not let things that happen in the world stop me from living my life. I'm 100 per cent planning on going to Athens."

Williams added: "I just want to clear the air, I can't wait to play singles. It will be my first time playing singles [at the Olympics]. I won doubles [with her sister Venus in 2000]. I love trading pins, and I wouldn't miss that for the world."

In her first tournament since a knee operation after Wimbledon last year, Williams, the defending champion, has advanced to the quarter-finals, her usual mixture of power and athleticism overcoming worrying moments in her matches against the Russians Elena Likhovtseva and Maria Sharapova when, as she admitted, she was "a little sloppy".

Yesterday Serena was due to play a compatriot, Jill Craybas. Venus Williams, seeded to meet Serena in the final, was scheduled to meet the fifth-seeded Elena Dementieva, of Russia, in the quarter-finals.

As the fourth-seeded Andre Agassi prepared to play Agustin Calleri, of Argentina, in the fourth round of the men's singles, he was asked if it was comforting that Roger Federer, the Swiss world No 1, had been eliminated in the opposite side of the draw.

"I don't think much about it," said Agassi, who is going for his seventh title here. "I got asked that for a decade with Pete [Sampras]. You're thinking more about Sunday [and the final] than I am. I never look so far ahead."

The 33-year-old Agassi, who rarely escapes a question about parenthood, was asked if he had applied to his tennis anything he had learned being a parent, and vice versa. "Things I've learned being a parent that I've applied to my tennis ..." he mused. "Pick your battles."

Andy Roddick, the second seed, was due to play Guillermo Canas, of Argentina, in the quarter-finals yesterday after prevailing against Jonas Bjorkman, of Sweden, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, in one of the most exciting matches of the tournament.

There was added interest in the contest, because Roddick and Bjorkman will duel again when the United States play Sweden in the Davis Cup in Delray Beach, Florida, over the Easter weekend.

"Obviously, you can't help but think forward a couple of weeks to the Davis Cup tie," Roddick said. "But winning tonight doesn't do anything to help our chances."

Roddick, along with the spectators, was impressed by a shot Bjorkman conjured up behind his back in the seventh game of the concluding set. "I was thinking: 'This is really beautiful. He hit that shot and now we're at 30-all at three-all in the third.' That was a cute shot," Roddick said. "I tried as best I could to keep going and pretend that I just played a great point and he came up with a passing shot and didn't hit the behind-the-back."

Roddick went on to make the decisive break, passing Bjorkman down the line. "At first I thought I'd hit [the shot] wide," Roddick said, relieved that the line judge had his eye on the ball.

* The ATP Tour will not appeal against Greg Rusedski's acquittal by a tribunal after the British No 2 tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone. Rusedski will not receive financial compensation, but tournaments have been asked to look favourably on requests for wild cards as he rebuilds his career. The governing body of the men's tour has also recruited the British No 2 to its anti-drugs task force.

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