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Williams makes pitch to play in April event

1/17/2005

MELBOURNE, Australia -- If U.S. captain Zina Garrison wants
Serena Williams to play in the country's Fed Cup match against
Belgium at Delray Beach, Fla., in April, Williams will be there.
"It's in Delray -- are you serious?" Williams said Monday after
her first-round win at the Australian Open. "Oh, I'll really want
to play. I really want to play for Zina. I haven't been able to
play with her yet.
"That's perfect. It doesn't get better than that."
Williams, who has lived in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., was
mentored by 1990 Wimbledon finalist Garrison when she was new on
the WTA Tour.
After her 6-1, 6-1 win over Camille Pin of France, Williams was
more excited to talk about her appearance in the TV sitcom "All of
Us," than about her match. Williams said she played two roles in
the show, which is produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett.
"I never do comedy," Williams said. "They have been begging
me to do a show a lot, but I never got the right script."
She plays herself, and her assistant.
"Her assistant was named Wanda, she was kind of ... out there,
wore a really loud blond wig. She was really eccentric. I really
got to stretch my comedic roles. I ad-libbed so much."
Asked if hers was an Emmy-winning performance, Williams said:
"Definitely not."

Friendly banter
Marat Safin gave former Australian Open
champion Jim Courier some good-natured razzing when Courier
interviewed the Russian at the Australian Open on Monday.
Courier, a four-time major champion who'll be inducted into the
International Tennis Hall of Fame in July, is working for
Australia's Seven television network. Courier replaced John
McEnroe.
"Actually, he's better than McEnroe at these things," Safin
told the center court crowd after beating Novak Djokovic in
straight sets.
Courier gave some ribbing back by asking Safin about his
performance at the Hopman Cup team event two weeks ago, where Safin
went 0-6 in singles and mixed doubles.
Safin responded: "Did you have to bring that up?"
And Safin jokingly chastised Courier for reminding him that he's
been a losing finalist here twice in the past three years.
"It's too disappointing to think about," Safin said.

Two-sport Draper
Australian Scott Draper can pack away his
tennis racket for a while and take out his golf clubs.
Draper lost his first-round match Monday at the Australian Open
to 13th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain. Unless he gets a wild-card
entry for doubles, Draper will tackle the pro golf tour for the
next two months.
Draper, 30, qualified for his Australasian PGA tour card in
December. He'll play in the Victoria Open next week, then try to
qualify for the Heineken Classic at Royal Melbourne in early
February.
He'll play several secondary tour events before turning his
attention back to tennis to get ready for the French Open and
Wimbledon. By the end of the year, after the U.S. Open tennis
tournament, he'll be back playing the late-season Australasian PGA
golf events.
"This is a year to really decide which way I'm going to go,"
Draper said. "It's going to be a difficult year, but I'm looking
forward to it."
Draper has one tennis tournament title -- the 1998 Queen's Club
event in London -- and has been plagued by knee problems that
restrict his movement on the court.
He had been playing golf with a plus-1 handicap for about two
years before getting his tour card.
"I think I can compete," Draper said about his upcoming foray
into golf. "I don't expect to be winning them, but I think I'm
good enough to compete in those tournaments."

Former champion back
Thomas Johansson won a match here for
the first time since claiming the 2002 Australian Open title,
beating Peter Luczak of Australia in a marathon five-setter Monday
that Johansson called a "nightmare."
He missed the 2003 tournament and nearly the whole year after
knee surgery, then lost in the first round last year.
"I was very, very nervous in the beginning," he said about
Monday's match, which he won 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. "That's
pretty much the worst you can play."
But after his early jitters, Johansson settled down. He broke
Luczak to open the fifth set, a key point in the match.
"I have to play a lot better than I did today to go far," said
Johansson, 29.
He plays another baseliner, Agustin Calleri of Argentina, in the
second round.
Another past Australian Open champion, 1995 women's winner Mary
Pierce, went out in the first round Monday, losing 6-2, 6-2 to
Stephanie Cohen-Aloro of France.