Williams sisters win in return to doubles

Updated: June 28, 2007, 5:19 PM ET
Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- Serena and Venus Williams made a successful return to doubles competition Thursday at Wimbledon.

Together for the first time since 2003, the sisters beat Claire Curran and Anne Keothavong of Britain 6-1, 6-3 in the first round at the All England Club, not long after Venus Williams reached the third round in singles.

"I feel like if I'm playing bad, am really down, I know Serena can do it. We both have that confidence in each other," Venus Williams said. "We're always so positive with each other."

The sisters won Wimbledon doubles championships in 2000 and 2002, part of their six Grand Slam titles as a tandem.

Another pair of American siblings also won a doubles opener Thursday. Defending champions and twins Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

In singles, Venus next plays Akiko Morigama; a win there would set up a fourth-round match against 2004 champion Maria Sharapova. The second-seeded Russian won her second-round match 6-0, 6-3 over Severine Bremond of France at Centre Court, which is missing its overhang as part of work to build a retractable roof.

"It's like someone took the torch from the Statue of Liberty. It's like they took the Arc from the Arc de Triomphe," Sharapova said. "It's my favorite court to play on, but it's definitely so weird, the atmosphere."


DAILY AFFIRMATION: Starting in January, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi has been writing "I want to qualify for Wimbledon" in his diary.

Last week he did just that.

Then he became the first Pakistani player since 1976 to win a singles match at the All England Club. On Thursday, Qureshi's run ended with a 4-6, 2-6, 6-7 (4) loss to Marat Safin.

"In Pakistan, people don't know that much about tennis, but everybody knows about Wimbledon," said the 279th-ranked Qureshi, who failed in four previous attempts to qualify. "So far I've heard that nobody is thinking cricket or talking cricket, so it's a good feeling."

Qureshi might be best known for playing doubles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2002 with Israel's Amir Hadid -- a pairing condemned by some in Pakistan. The players still keep in touch.

"I really believe that you shouldn't mix politics, religion or color into sports," Qureshi said.

Sania Mirza of India and Shahar Peer of Israel are playing women's doubles at this year's Wimbledon.

"We're playing tennis; we're not making statements," Mirza said after losing to Nadia Petrova in singles. "We've grown up together. We're friends, and we're playing doubles together. I don't know why there needs to be any other questions."


OLDIES BUT GOODIES: Wayne Arthurs has said Wimbledon will be his final tournament. At 36, he's the oldest man in the field, and his third-round opponent, 35-year-old Jonas Bjorkman, was the second oldest.

"For both of us, you know, it's something -- an excitement in us, a little thrill inside the body that we still can go out and compete with the youngsters who are just under 20 or just past 20, and still show that we can still play some good tennis," said Bjorkman, a semifinalist last year.

The 19th-seeded Swede beat Wang Yeu-tzuoo 6-0, 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-4 Thursday, while Arthurs upset No. 11 Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

"I don't think we're allowed to play before Monday," Arthurs said, "because the over-35s doesn't start until next week."


CALL ME: Meilen Tu didn't expect to be selected to the U.S. Fed Cup team for its semifinal against Russia next month. She did expect a courtesy call from captain Zina Garrison, however, given that she's the fourth-best American player according to the rankings.

"I'm a little bit disappointed in that I never even met her," the 38th-ranked Tu said after a second-round loss to Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-3 at Wimbledon on Thursday.

"Look, I can go up to her and definitely introduce myself, I'll give you that. But I think it's part of her job representing women's tennis, representing the Fed Cup, that she come up and talk to all the American players."

Tu said she believes she should have been given consideration for the fourth spot that went to Vania King. Venus and Serena Williams and doubles specialist Lisa Raymond also are on the squad.

Jill Craybas and Laura Granville -- who beat King and Jelena Kostanic Tosic in doubles Thursday -- also were upset.

"The big thing is that there's not a lot of communication going on," said Craybas, who's ranked 64th in singles. "A lot of players I talked to are frustrated about it, because there's a lack of contact."

The 77th-ranked Granville, who faces 1997 champion Martina Hingis in singles Friday, said: "I'm not even on the radar screen."


AP Freelance Writer Sandra Harwitt contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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