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 Monday, September 6
Hingis, Williamses declare truce
Associated Press

  NEW YORK -- The war of words between Martina Hingis and the Williams clan -- Venus, Serena and Papa Richard -- calmed down after a kiss-and-make-up meeting staged by the WTA Tour to defuse the feud.

The top-ranked Hingis gave Richard Williams an autographed T-shirt, and he gave her a hug and a kiss,after she reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open with a 6-4, 6-2 victory Friday over Sandra Kloesel.

Williams had irked Hingis by predicting his daughters would meet in the final, a comment that led to some pretty good jibes volleyed back and forth the last few days.

"They always have a big mouth," Hingis had said.

"She just speaks her mind," Serena responded. "I guess it has a little bit to do with not having a formal education. But you just have to think more ... use your brain a little more in the tennis world."

When Hingis and Serena met in the locker room Friday, they laughed about the exchanges, insisting to each other that the press had blown up the whole thing. Then a WTA Tour official suggested that Hingis could smooth things out by presenting Richard Williams with an autographed T-shirt.

Hingis said he had been asking her for an autograph "every single tournament," always sticking his arm out for her to sign.

"I was, like, 'Why waste it?' If you take a shower it's going to go off anyway."

Hingis liked the T-shirt gag and promptly signed it, "To Richard," though she didn't put any love, or any other message, in front of her name.

"It's perfect timing," Hingis said of the truce offering.

The taunts all week underscored the competitiveness of the rivalry that is developing between the Williams sisters and Hingis, who are close in age.

Hingis, 18, clearly is ahead at the moment, a winner of five majors since turning pro five years ago. Neither of the Williams sisters has won even a single major. Venus, 19, reached the U.S. Open final in her debut two years ago -- only to lose in straight sets to Hingis.

So when Richard Williams claimed that his girls are better than Hingis and everyone else, that they're too fast and too athletic and too smart to be beaten, Hingis said she had to wonder.

"He always has his comments," she said. "You know, it's fun. Because I'm better than them so far. I'm the No. 1, not them."

She said Richard Williams came up to her after her victory over Venus for the 1997 U.S. Open title.

"He said, 'Why did you beat my girl so badly?' " Hingis said. "In one way, he's also responding that he appreciates me or he respects me, the way I am and the way I play tennis."

Hingis doesn't mind his predictions, but didn't much care for Serena's comments about her lack of formal education.

"I learned enough traveling," Hingis said. "I don't think I'm that dumb. I'd like to see some other people talking in three languages. It's not always easy. It's a little misunderstanding sometimes, what I say. I don't always mean, like, to hurt anybody.

"I never missed (school). I was always very happy about, you know, the thing I'm doing right now. I don't think the money's too bad either."

Hingis moved along in the tournament without much problem, though she played a somewhat ragged first set.

"In the beginning, I was a bit nervous," said Hingis, who next plays former champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. "I was, like, trying to get my rhythm. I missed a couple of shots, so I was a little bit scared ... Then the second set I was getting better."