<
>

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

12/6/2006 - Tennis

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.