Serena Williams made a liar out of me. And I couldn't be happier. Somehow I thought after the US Open, she would sit out the rest of the year. But clearly, she wants to qualify for the Season Ending Championships, maybe even improve her ranking so that she doesn't have to draw her archrival in the quarterfinals of all the Slams next year.
What was it Jelena Jankovic said about the Slam draws? Nevermind.
Anyway, in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, which begins tomorrow, she's on the opposite side of the draw from Justine Henin, who also makes her return to competitive action after her run to the US Open title.
I don't usually post draws outside of Slam and Masters/Tier I events, but the field in Stuttgart is such high quality, I'll step outside of the box. Here's the draw:
(1) HENIN, Justine BEL v BYE
SREBOTNIK, Katarina SLO v SAFINA, Dinara RUS
MAURESMO, Amelie FRA v DEMENTIEVA, Elena RUS
SAFAROVA, Lucie CZE v HANTUCHOVA, Daniela SVK (8)
(3) JANKOVIC, Jelena SRB v BYE
SCHIAVONE, Francesca ITA v PEER, Shahar ISR
BONDARENKO, Alona UKR v QUALIFIER
MALEK, Tatjana GER v PETROVA, Nadia RUS (7)
(5) IVANOVIC, Ana SRB v SCHNYDER, Patty SUI
QUALIFIER v QUALIFIER
MULLER, Martina GER v GOLOVIN, Tatiana FRA
BYE v CHAKVETADZE, Anna RUS (4)
(6) WILLIAMS, Serena USA v BOVINA, Elena RUS
QUALIFIER v GOERGES, Julia GER
BARTOLI, Marion FRA v RADWANSKA, Agnieszka POL
BYE v KUZNETSOVA, Svetlana RUS (2)
Aside from the top 8 seeds, I've highlighted the first-round matches that caught my eye. Amélie and Elena D in the first round? Loot-SEE-uh and Dani could be a good match out of the gates, as could AnaI and Wacky Patty. And if only there was live feed or television coverage, I'd love to see Maid Marion take on A-Rad. Now, if only these non-Tier I-56-player-or-more WTA events could dispense with first-round byes for any of the seeds, then we'd have something to seriously discuss.
Perhaps Serena and Justine can navigate their way to a final and produce some fireworks. What am I talking about? I already said I was over this rivarly after the US Open. And not because Serena lost, mind you. But because it's clear to me that the quality of tennis from both sides of the net just won't be up to snuff unless or until Serena can exorcise the Justine demon from her psyche.
The tournament director of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix must be having multiple orgasms with this field. Here's hoping none of them pull out at the eleventh hour.
Serena starts rare late-season swing through Europe