Williams sisters on opposite sides of draw

Updated: June 17, 2004, 3:25 PM ET
Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- There could be a third straight all-Williams final at Wimbledon this year.

Serena, the two-time defending champion, and Venus, a former two-time winner, were placed in opposite halves of the women's draw Thursday -- setting up a shot at a third-straight final featuring the siblings.

The top-seeded Serena opens with China's Jie Zheng. Her first tough match could come against No. 7 Jennifer Capriati in the quarterfinals -- Capriati beat Serena at the French Open last month.

If she gets past that, Serena -- without a major since last Wimbledon -- could end up facing No. 4 Amelie Mauresmo of France.

Venus, on the same side with French Open champion and No. 2 Anastasia Myskina, starts against Switzerland's Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian, and could meet No. 5 Lindsay Davenport in the quarters.

On the men's side, top-seeded defending champion Roger Federer has 2001 winner Lleyton Hewitt in his half, while No. 2 Andy Roddick has perennial British contender Tim Henman in his section.

The grass-court Grand Slam tournament begins Monday and ends July 4.

Venus and Serena were promoting a new tennis book Thursday. When asked about the possibility of playing Serena in another Wimbledon final, Venus said "we just have to I guess calm down from the excitement of releasing this book and focus on the tennis."

Some top names will be missing: Andre Agassi, the 1992 champion, withdrew Tuesday due to a hip injury, and women's No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne (viral illness) and No. 2 Kim Clijsters (wrist injury) pulled out last week.

Nine-time champion Martina Navratilova, 47, received a wild card to play singles at Wimbledon for the first time since losing in the 1994 final to Conchita Martinez.

She has a first-round match against Catalina Castano of Colombia. In the second round, Navratilova would meet either Jelena Dokic or Gisela Dulko, who beat her in straight sets in the first round of the French Open last month.

The Williams sisters have faced each other in six Grand Slam finals. During one stretch, the sisters won eight of 11 Grand Slam tournaments. But Venus last won a Slam in 2001, and Serena hasn't been in a major final since last year's Wimbledon.

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Serena had surgery on her left knee Aug. 1, and didn't return to the tour until March. Venus lost six months to a torn abdominal muscle, won consecutive tournaments in April and May, then hurt her left ankle at the German Open in May.

In the men's draw, Federer opens his title defense against a British wild card, Alex Bogdanovich, while Roddick will play a qualifier in the first round.

Federer has No. 3 Guillermo Coria in his half. But the Argentine clay-courter has never won a match at Wimbledon.

Potential men's quarterfinals: Federer vs. 2002 champ and seventh-seeded Hewitt, Coria vs. No. 6 Juan Carlos Ferrero, 2002 runner-up and No. 4 David Nalbandian against No. 5 Henman, and Roddick vs. No. 8 Rainer Schuettler of Germany.

Roddick, who could face Henman or Nalbandian in the semis, could have a few tricky early round matches. He could face Spanish teenage star Rafael Nadal in the second round and big-serving American Taylor Dent in the third.

Henman, who has reached the semifinals four times in his bid to become the first Briton to win the men's title since 1936, faces a potential fourth-round test against Mark Philippoussis, last year's losing finalist.

Unseeded Goran Ivanisevic, who won Wimbledon as a wild card in 2001, drew a tough first-round match against Russia's Mikhail Youzhny, seeded No. 31.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press