Tennis stars accused of lying in "Battle of Sexes" case

Updated: December 6, 2006, 1:35 AM ET
Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Attorneys for a pair of promoters suing tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and their father over a tennis match accused the three of perjury.

In a motion filed Tuesday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, the attorneys accuse the sisters of "a repeated pattern of deception and falsehood."

Promoters Carol Clarke and Keith Rhodes, owners of a company called CCKR, allege that the sisters' father, Richard Williams, signed a contract on their behalf committing his daughters to play in a 2001 "Battle of the Sexes" match. The promoters claim they lost millions of dollars after the sisters reneged on the deal.

Despite tax returns that show payments to Richard Williams for management fees, Venus and Serena Williams have both testified that their father has never been their manager and had no authority to commit them to a deal. Attorneys for the sisters and their father claim the payments were mischaracterized for tax-deduction purposes and that Richard Williams was paid merely for coaching services.

A telephone call Tuesday to the plaintiffs' attorneys was not immediately returned.

The sisters' attorney, F. Malcolm Cunningham, said the sisters are the only ones who can commit to any contract where money is exchanged for their services.

"Since Venus and Serena have been 18, they sign their own contracts without exception," Cunningham said outside court. "Nobody signs for them."

After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Jeffrey Winikoff ordered Venus and Serena Williams' attorneys to turn over to him more than two dozen sponsorship and endorsement agreements by Friday.

Richard Williams has acknowledged drawing up terms of a potential contract for the 2001 event, but he insists he told promoters they would have to go through the IMG sports agency, which represents Venus and Serena, to complete any agreement. The promoters say he made no such disclaimer.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press