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Serena Out of WTA Event

October 18, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Serena Williams will be the featured guest star next week -- on TV, not the tennis court.

As expected, Williams pulled out of next month's season-ending WTA Championships at Staples Center, as well as the tournament in Philadelphia the previous week, meaning her season has ended.

Williams, who had left knee surgery Aug. 1, has not competed on the tour since winning Wimbledon in early July. At the time of the surgery, insiders doubted she would be able to return in time for the Championships, Nov. 5-10.

"Obviously everybody had a pretty good idea that she was not going to play but to Serena's credit, I think she was hopeful," tournament director John Arrix said.

In a statement released by the WTA on Friday, Williams said, "I really miss playing tennis and I can't wait to come back and compete. However, I feel I need more time to prepare and get myself in the best shape possible. I'll be back ... better than ever."

In the meantime, fans can see her Wednesday on the Showtime series "Street Time," playing a reformed gang member.

Williams finished 2003 at 38-3, with four titles, two of them Grand Slams -- the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Her withdrawal was the second blow for the tournament this week. Earlier, Lindsay Davenport had left foot surgery. She is not expected back on tour until January.

"From a tournament side, it's still going to be a compelling story that the season-ending event is going to potentially determine the No. 1 player in the world, which is good," Arrix said, alluding to the close race between the Belgians, No. 1-ranked Kim Clijsters and No. 2 Justine Henin-Hardenne, champion of the French and U.S. opens.

This year's event will feature a round-robin format, instead of single elimination.

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The WTA provided more information about new penalties for players caught fixing matches -- a $100,000 fine and a suspension of undetermined length, both taking effect next year.

The old fine was $5,000, according to a WTA representative. That information was not available Thursday, when the new sanctions were disclosed.

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