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Davenport Out; Sisters Unlikely

Surgeries and injuries could take a toll on the WTA Championships next month at Staples.

October 16, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

The $3-million WTA Championships lost one name from the marquee Wednesday, and there is a growing concern the event could end up without two of the tour's biggest draws, Serena and Venus Williams.

Lindsay Davenport's season ended with left foot surgery in Los Angeles, keeping her out of next month's Championships at Staples Center. The Williamses have not played in a tour event since the Wimbledon final in early July.

They pulled out of the U.S. Open and their return does not appear imminent.

Serena had knee surgery on Aug. 1, and Venus has been hampered by an abdominal injury, which started bothering her in the clay-court season, even before the French Open. Any attempt to pinpoint an exact return for either appears to be an educated guess, at best.

Even Serena would not speculate on a timetable when reporters asked her about it Tuesday in New York, where she received an award from a charitable foundation.

Davenport's status appears clearer. Her surgery was expected because of persistent pain in her left foot during the year. Davenport decided to go forward with the procedure after withdrawing from this week's event in Zurich, Switzerland.

"She's disappointed she won't be playing in the Championships," said Davenport's agent, Tony Godsick.

Davenport plans to return for the outdoor hardcourt season in Australia in January. Her last Grand Slam title came at the 2000 Australian Open.

Despite the presence of Davenport and Serena and Venus Williams in the tour finale last year, the tournament at Staples Center was viewed as a disappointment in terms of attendance.

Davenport lost in the first round, but Serena made the final, losing to Kim Clijsters, and Venus went out in the semifinals, retiring because of injury against Clijsters.

Organizers responded to the attendance problems by changing last year's single-elimination format to round robin and cutting the doubles field in half. This year's tournament is Nov. 5-10, and the new title sponsor is Bank of America.

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