- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2012

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - By 17, Vania King had won her first WTA title and cracked the top 50 in the rankings. There was just one problem _ she wasn’t sure she actually liked playing tennis.

“I came up pretty fast when I was 16 1/2, 17 and I didn’t really know why I was good,” the American said after her second-round win over 15th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Australian Open on Thursday. “I didn’t find enjoyment for myself. I was finding enjoyment because I was winning and other people were happy about it.”

In early 2007, she ended her coaching relationship with her father and went into a “downward spiral.” She contemplated quitting tennis and enrolling at Stanford.

She stuck with tennis but lackluster results sent her ranking plummeting. Then, at the end of 2008, she started working with Tarik Benhabiles _ Andy Roddick’s former coach _ and everything changed.

“He was the first one to say, ‘Look, you know, if you want to play, you play. And if you don’t want to play, you should stop now,’” she said.

Three years later, the 22-year-old King is finally enjoying what she’s doing, and succeeding. In 2010, King won the Wimbledon and U.S. Open doubles titles with Yaroslava Shvedova. Her singles ranking is up to No. 66 and she has achieved her best result by reaching the third round at the Australian Open. She next plays former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic.

King’s relationship with her father is on the mend as well.

“I think that helped me a lot with my tennis to have peace, to be balanced in my life, to be balanced off the court,” she said.


OLYMPIC NO-GO: Marion Bartoli says it’s unlikely she’ll play in the 2012 London Olympics because of a “heartbreaking” dispute with the French tennis federation.

Bartoli is France’s top tennis player and is ranked No. 9. But to compete in the Olympics, the International Tennis Federation requires she be on good terms with her national federation and have made herself available to play in the Fed Cup twice over the past four years.

Bartoli has feuded with the French federation over her independent coaching set-up with her father. He has not been allowed to coach during the Fed Cup. France captain Nicolas Escude left her off the French squad last year, saying the coaching situation made her “totally incompatible” with the team.

Bartoli had hoped for an exception from the ITF, but that’s a long shot. Barring that, she admits she has few options. She says she doesn’t have time to take her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“It’s really heartbreaking for me,” she said after her 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jelena Dokic in the second round of the Australian Open. “Honestly, I really do feel I have a chance to make a medal over there and especially at Wimbledon, on grass, where I had so much success in the past, and can’t go there just for some stupid reason.”

Bartoli reached the Wimbledon final in 2007, losing to Venus Williams.

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