Preview: Serena Williams Ready to Sizzle in Miami?
by Jeremy Davis | March 17th, 2014, 6:54 pm

The Williams-less tennis window opens this week at the Sony Open in Miami, following Venus and Serena’s continued boycott last week of the Indian Wells event.
It was rumored that Serena (and Venus) were going to embrace the “Forgive and forget” message, inspired by the late Nelson Mandela and her Serena’s Jehovah’s Witness religion, but in the end — didn’t happen.

So now Serena returns to the court for the first time since her shock semifinal loss to Alize Cornet in Dubai, and Venus for the first time since winning the same Dubai event, spanking Cornet 6-3, 6-0 in the final.

An interesting note: Venus has reached two finals this year and Serena only one, and both lost early at the Australian Open. Which versions of the Williams sisters we’ll see this week in Miami remains to be seen.

Wildcards into the event are Vicky Duval, Indy De Vroome, Casey Dellacqua, Anett Kontaveit, Rebecca Peterson, Nadia Petrova, Heather Watson and Aleksandra Wozniak. That’s only one American out of eight wildcards, showing the Miami IMG-run event is anything but a showcase or support system for U.S. players.

“I’m really grateful for the wildcard,” Duval said at the draw ceremony. “I got my second WTA win here last year, so Miami has a special place in my heart. This is kind of where it all started. And there’s a big Haitian population here and the crowd was really getting behind me last year.”

Let’s see how the world No. 1 Serena’s and No. 29 seed Venus’ draws break down in Miami, as well as for the other 30 seeds and unseeded contenders:


Serena as well as all 32 seeds receive opening-round byes, but the draw has been kinder to some that others. Serena’s draw is decidedly middle of the road, starting against either over-the-hill French Open winner Francesca Schiavone or Yaroslava Shvedova, then proceeding to likely meet No. 27 seed Klara Zakopalova, No. 16 Sam Stosur, and No. 5 Angie Kerber to gain the semis.

Also in the quarter is No. 9 seed Sara Errani amongst a section almost completely void of challenging floaters.


No. 4 Maria Sharapova heads this section of the draw, with a forgiving road at least to the quarters where she will likely meet either No. 6 Petra Kvitova or No. 12 Ana Ivanovic. Sharapova will start after a bye against either German riser Annika Beck, or Japan’s Kurumi Nara who won her first career title earlier this year.

One of the few opening-round challenges goes to No. 14 Sabine Lisicki, who will start against either veteran wildcard Nadia Petrova or Urszula Radwanska. Also in this section are Indian Wells winner and No. 20 seed Flavia Pennetta who could eventually meet Ivanovic, and former No. 2 and No. 28 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova who is on a third-round collision course with Kvitova.


The third quarter is where the thus-far weak tea that is the women’s Sony Open draw gets a little flavor.

No. 3 Aggie Radwanska leads a pack that includes No. 6 Simona Halep, No. 18 Eugenie Bouchard, No. 10 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 29 Venus Williams, and No. 22 Alize Cornet. Facing tricky potential openers are Cornet vs. Andrea Petkovic, and Bouchard vs. Mattek-Sands. Potential third-round match-ups are Halep vs. Venus, Cornet vs. Cibulkova, and in the fourth round Radwanska vs. Bouchard.

Bouchard, if she can navigate her tricky opener, can see her draw open up.


Li Na’s reward as the No. 2 seed is a grouping with two former No. 1s and some early meetings with some young and hungry ball-crunchers.

Li after a bye will likely start against Russian Alisa Kleybanova, then either American Madison Keys or No. 31 seed Daniela Hantuchova. Also in the quarter are No. 7 seed Jelena Jankovic, No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 17 Sloane Stephens, and tough out No. 24 Kaia Kanepi.

In the fourth round look for likely meetings between Li vs. Kanepi and Jankovic vs. Stephens to determine who exits this quarter and eventually surfaces in the semis.


Sharapova seems to lack confidence, Radwanska is dealing with an Indian Wells injury, Pennetta will be gassed from her Indian Wells run — who is ready to step up?

Look for Serena vs. Ivanovic and Bouchard (taking advantage of a great draw) vs. Li in the semifinals, and Serena d. Li in the final.

Who do you see making a breakthrough or winning at Miami?

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7 Comments for Preview: Serena Williams Ready to Sizzle in Miami?

Louise Says:

Forgive and forget? Was there a truth and reconciliation commission in Indian Wells? Did I miss something? Judgmental ASS

Dey Says:

That is a very bold prediction. Bouchard / Li semis will be a blast but I disagree with your assessment of Bouchard’s draw. Mattek-Sands owned her this year, Halep is no pushover and Cibulkova is the 2nd hottest player on tour behind Li. I don’t see Li coming out of her bracket, Stephens is due for a breakout and she will this week.

Translated Age Says:

I know Petkovic has struggled with injury but I don’t understand why she can’t seem to get her game back since her return.

Darryl Thompson Says:

First of all the Williams’ said “never” to IW and never means NEVER – so lets move on and forget about it. None of us went through what they did so why should we (YOU) insist they forgive and forget who among us does???

As for Miami well its amazing how Sharapova (more often than not) is always lucky enough to get the weakest draw tourney after tourney what a career.

Still I doubt that Serena will win her 7th title because of the in-activity (too much at her age) – I would love to be wrong on this.

Translated Age Says:

Well said DT. Couldn’t agree more!

Patson Says:

@Translated Age: We can always agree more; there are no limits to agreeing.

Ok bad joke.

I’d like to see Stosur do well. Can’t figure out what’s up with her.

MMT Says:

I don’t care if the Williams sisters never play Indian Wells again – it’s their right to play wherever they want, and that should be the end of the discussion.

Having said that, as for forgiving and forgetting, it might go a long way for the tournament to publicly acknowledge not only what happen to them, but apologize and atone for the inaction that resulted in the crazed resentment that led to the crowd going nuts on the Williams sisters.

If Charlie Pasarell and Larry Ellison held a press conference in December and said:

“You know, what happened to Williams Family at Indian Wells in 2001 is a stain on our tournament that we may never be able to remove. It was an awful day, and it should never have happened.

We could have and should have done more, because they are great players who deserved to be treated better, and we did nothing to stop that shoddy treatment.

The crowd didn’t know that Venus was injured, that it was verified by tour staff as is required by the rules, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that there was any reason other than her injury that prevented her from playing. They were, and still are, too professional and too competitive to manufacture results. Maybe if they knew that, if we did more to assure them of that, if we had done something to quell the resentment, the day might have turned out differently.

As to the racial abuse – that too was unacceptable, we will never let that happen again to anyone…ever. Racial abuse has no place in society, let alone in tennis. We didn’t do enough to investigate where it came from, and see if we could do something about it. We could have offered them our corporate suite – that wouldn’t have helped Serena, but at least Venus and Richard would have been spared the awful spectacle.

I personally abhor racial abuse, and I won’t ever stand for that sort of thing at my tournament – nobody in tennis should, but I won’t ever let that happen again. I’m deeply sorry that we let it happen in the first place, but we’ll never make that mistake again.”

It may or may not help the Williams sisters change their minds, but it will at least address some of the lingering issues perceptions of the day and what happened. And maybe, just maybe, if someone expects the Williams sisters to forgive, maybe they should start by ASKING for their forgiveness.

But as I said, as far as my concerned, nobody should be compelled or expected to play anywhere they don’t want to.

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