posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 04:33 PM
ATHENS (Reuters) - Venus Williams's bid for a second successive Olympic doubles tennis gold ended on Monday when she and stand-in partner Chanda Rubin
lost 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 to Chinese eighth seeds Li Ting and Sun Tian Tian in the first round.
Venus was without her usual partner, younger sister Serena, who pulled out of the Games due to injury, and she and Rubin could not match the teamwork
of the Chinese pair. Li and Sun broke decisively for 5-3 in the third set and, roared on by most of the crowd on center court, sealed a victory which
they greeted with a joyous hug. Afterwards Williams admitted her lack of experience playing with Rubin had cost the Americans dear.
"It was our first time playing together. On a lot of the shots that we normally would have made we were a little rusty," Williams told reporters.
But she did not want to discuss Serena's absence. "I'm here playing for the U.S. and I love playing with Chanda Rubin," she snapped. "That (Serena's
absence) is not even part of the equation."
Williams has suffered her own fitness problems in recent months but, asked if her early exit from the doubles might improve her singles chances, the
American replied: "No, I really don't think so, not at all. I love doubles."
The Chinese pair were delighted.
"It's our best ever victory, even though they were only half the defending champions," Li Ting said, speaking via an interpreter.
"We are very happy. We just wanted to play our normal game. Every pair is different to defeat but one victory is not enough to say that we will win
The defeat leaves Venus to concentrate on the defense of the singles gold she won in Sydney four years ago. She plays Slovenia's Maja Matevzic in the
second round on Tuesday.