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By Own Design, She Dresses for Success

June 24, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England — If women here are playing tennis and it's late June, it's only a matter of time before talk turns to fashion.

V could have stood for three things Monday: Venus, victory and Vogue.

Venus Williams unveiled a new outfit, a dress designed with input from fashion maven Diane von Furstenberg, apparel company Reebok and, naturally, Venus herself. After defeating qualifier Stanislava Hrozenska of Slovakia, 6-2, 6-2, in the first round at Wimbledon, the fourth-seeded Williams spoke at great length about her white "corset dress," featuring laces up the back.

She quickly dispelled the notion that she needed help to get into it.

"It's easy to get into," Williams said. "I don't buy things you have to lace up."

Of course.

Nor did the two-time Wimbledon champion buy into her father Richard's idea that she had something of her old presence back, although she seemed strikingly different from the player who lost in the fourth round of the French Open.

"My dad's always really positive, so he always says nice things, especially when I'm not playing so well, so that way I can feel good," she said.


Also looking for a positive was another former Wimbledon champion, Lindsay Davenport. Davenport, seeded fifth, had a tough test against hard-hitting wild card Samantha Stosur of Australia, winning, 7-6 (3), 7-5.

"She served exceptional, in the first set, especially," said Davenport, who reported that the inflamed nerve in her left foot had not bothered her. "It's tough on grass, when you're trying to build some momentum and trying to get used to playing on it.... So I would have rather had a better match, hitting more ground strokes, instead of the one-two [shot] rallies we were having. But I was able to get through and you just keep looking for better days."


Two players on the men's side retired because of injuries.

Adrian Voinea of Romania had to stop in the third set against Agustin Calleri of Argentina because of a torn calf muscle in his right leg. It was Calleri's first singles victory at Wimbledon in three trips.

John Van Lottum of the Netherlands, who was leading Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, 6-2, 2-3, had to quit because of a back injury. Kuerten had not won a match on grass in almost three years, having skipped Wimbledon in 2001 and 2002.

"I always come here with some hopes," Kuerten said. "Even when I lost in the first rounds, I knew I could get some breaks and play longer. Played quarterfinal [in 1999], still thinking, 'If I do a good week, maybe I can get through and maybe do the same.' "

One first-round match was carried over until today. Fifteenth-seeded Arnaud Clement of France was leading Robby Ginepri, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 2-3, when darkness set in.


In the continuing battle of rhetoric between the Grand Slams and the ATP on economic issues, officials from Wimbledon shot back on the subject of a possible boycott by men's players at the Slam tournaments.

"The four Grand Slams are not-for-profit organizations which already invest their profits into the grass roots of the game, both domestically and internationally, through the Grand Slam development fund," All-England Club Chairman Tim Phillips said in a statement. "By this means, the four Grand Slams have so far invested $22 million into grass roots in the developing world, including other international professional tennis events."

Lleyton Hewitt, the defending men's champion who lost in the first round Monday, does not take seriously the possibility of a Wimbledon boycott next year. "I'd find it very hard to believe," he said.

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