- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

WIMBLEDON, England | Wimbledon is awash with food stalls and restaurants, but you can’t bring those tasty treats into the players’ locker rooms. And that has Serena Williams angry.

“I totally dislike rules that do NOT make sense,” the two-time champion wrote Tuesday in a posting on her blog.

Williams said she was told of the rule on the tournament’s opening day Monday, when she was eating before her first-round victory.

“Wow, really I thought to myself as I continued eating & of course the lady reminded me of the new rule. Again, I was in shock,” Williams wrote.

Williams noted that fruit and health bars are offered to players in the locker room. What she didn’t realize was that the ban applied only on food brought from outside.

“Why have food in a room if we aren’t allowed to eat in the locker room. This rule is unfair,” she wrote. “I do not agree with this rule. Like, do they really expect me or any other player to actually walk outside all the way to the player’s lounge. That is time not spent well & I value my time.”

Johnny Perkins, a spokesman for the All England Club, said the rule barring players from bringing food into the locker rooms has been in force for nearly a decade and is designed to keep the players’ locker rooms clean.

“In the end, someone has to clear it all up,” he said. He said the rule was designed to protect players, “so they are not having to change among excess food and cartons and whatnot.”

Youth is served

Kimiko Date Krumm wasn’t fazed by playing an opponent less than half her age, giving ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki a scare before losing 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.

Date Krumm, 38, came out of retirement last year and was making her first Wimbledon appearance since 1996. Wozniacki, 18, wasn’t even born when Date Krumm made her Wimbledon debut in 1989.

Date Krumm used a clever all-court game to confound her big-hitting opponent early, then hit a screeching forehand down the line to close out the first set.

“Now in women’s tennis, everybody is taller, more powerful, more speedy,” Date Krumm said. “But tennis, in my opinion, is more about using the head because I don’t have so much power and [I’m] not tall. I must use my head.”

Despite the loss, Date Krumm said her comeback has been stress-free.

“I like a challenge but I don’t have… much pressure,” she said. “So everything I can enjoy.”

Staying home

In today’s tennis world, sending a prodigy away to train at a famous academy seems all but a given.

For 17-year-old Melanie Oudin of Marietta, Ga., there was never any thought of going away.

“I’ve always lived at home and never lived in an academy somewhere else,” Oudin said after earning her first Grand Slam victory, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 over 29th-seeded Sybille Bammer at Wimbledon. “I’ve just been lucky that it has been right there for me.”

One reason it has worked is that a lot of pro players live near Oudin to provide a big pool of competitive practice partners. Robby Ginepri, Bobby Reynolds, Donald Young and former player Brian Vahaly all live in the Atlanta area. Jonathan Isner played at the nearby University of Georgia before joining the tour.

Oudin, the top-ranked American junior last year, relies on Brian Devilliers, her coach since she was 9, to guide her career. But she’s open to advice from others, including U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez, who picked Oudin to the winning first-round team against Argentina in February.

She also sought counsel from Venus Williams when she was a practice partner on the Fed Cup team that lost to Russia two summers ago. But Oudin has never talked with Venus’ younger sister, Serena.

“I’ve never met Serena,” Oudin said. “I haven’t even walked past her, like ever, almost. I’ve seen her, but she always has tons of security guards around her all the time, at least four or five people. But Venus, she walks around with, maybe, one person, that’s it.”

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