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Serena Williams advances to third round but is upset with court assignment

The defending and four-time Wimbledon champion struggles to defeat Simona Halep, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, and vents her frustration that the match was played on Court 2.

June 23, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • Venus Williams charges the net against Kimiko Date-Krumm in the second round of play at Wimbledon on Wednesday.
Venus Williams charges the net against Kimiko Date-Krumm in the second… (Susan Mullane / US Presswire )

Reporting from Wimbledon, England — It can be a workout, walking to outer courts at the All England Club.

Players have to swing their shoulders, wiggle an elbow and even follow security guards through the narrow aisles, especially if they are named Serena Williams.

Williams, the defending and four-time Wimbledon champion, was sent out to Court 2 on Thursday for her second-round match and that seemed to put the 29-year-old in a grumpy place.

She spent a set unable to figure out the serve of a 19-year-old who was playing Wimbledon for the first time, and even after she beat Simona Halep, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, Williams was not happy.

Serena's sister, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, played on Court 2 on Monday, a fact Serena immediately referenced. "They like to put us on Court 2, me and Venus, for whatever reason. I haven't figured it out yet," she said. "Maybe one day we'll figure it out. I don't know."

The schedulers at the All England Club, who have an office where they produce up to four pages of court assignments for 18 different courts, generally put two men's matches and one women's match on each of the largest courts, Centre and Court 1.

On Centre Court on Thursday, for example, fifth-seeded Robin Soderling beat former Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4, then third-seeded Li Na was upset by 21-year-old German wild card Sabine Lisicki, 3-6, 6-4, 8-6, and six-time champion and third-seeded Roger Federer moved quickly to the third round with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win over 93rd-ranked Adrian Mannarino of France.

On Court 1, second-seeded Novak Djokovic and 12th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also won and fifth-seeded former champion Maria Sharapova and Laura Robson of Britain were scheduled but didn't play because of rain.

In answer to a question about men such as Djokovic and Rafael Nadal not appearing, yet, on Court 2, Serena said, "They're never moved across. Actually, Venus and I have won more Wimbledons together than a lot of the players. So at the end of the day, I don't know. They're not going to change, doesn't look like."

In response, the All England Club issued a statement.

"Match scheduling at Wimbledon is a complex business and involves the referee and his experienced team in trying to achieve a fair and balanced draw from many competing interests and wishes, including the players. There is certainly no intention to favor any player or players, and in this instance I am sure the 4,000 spectators on No. 2 Court would have been delighted to see our reigning ladies' champion win."

Venus did not complain about her Court 2 assignment last Monday, and Serena said she wouldn't make "a big issue" about it.

"I think at some point maybe I should," she said. "I just really try to focus on not going down on Court 2."

It was Centre Court that offered the biggest upset of the tournament. Lisicki, who had missed substantial parts of the 2010 season with an ankle injury and saw her ranking fall to below 200, saved two match points against Li, with a 124-mph ace saving one of them.

"From the start of the first point until the end of the match, every serve was like around 117 miles," Li said. "This is impossible for the women."

Lisicki took Li's words as big praise. "I've always had a powerful serve," she said. "I think it's one of the best in women's tennis."

By the standing ovation Lisicki received on Centre Court, no one would blame Lisicki for boasting.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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