Venus Williams beat Kim Clijsters in the final of the Billie Jean King Cup exhibition on Monday night: 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
This is Venus’s third title in just over two weeks. Yes, I know it was only a one night exhibition but the draw was tough and the no-ad scoring format required extreme concentration. Oh, and the winner’s prize money was major league: $400,000. These few hours in New York earned Venus more dough than her past weeks’ Dubai ($350,000) and Acapulco ($37,000) earnings combined. Heck, after going straight from the Dubai desert, to the Acapulco dirt and then to Madison Square Garden, I’d say Venus just about earned her $787,000! And the yards of strapping on her upper legs.
Venus has a real, intensely felt reason for not playing Indian Wells (ugly incidents with the crowds – click here for more) but it’s a shame that we won’t see her build on this momentum in the desert next week. In the meantime, fellow BJK participants Clijsters and Kuznetsova (it’s too early for Ivanovic to think so far ahead) have circled next week on their calendars in thick red Sharpie: “No Williams Sisters! YAY!!!”
So we look forward to seeing Venus kick some butt in Miami. But what can we make of the rest of the field at the Billie Jean King Cup? Ana Ivanovic put up a fight in her semifinal against Kim Clijsters, losing 2-7 in the tiebreaker (the semifinal was a one set, no-ad scoring affair) and perhaps inspired by her new coach, Heinz Gunthardt. Was that Ana playing – if not serving – well, or Kim playing tight? (Ana joked about her serve in the post-match presser “it was impressive, but not in a good way!” via @TSFtennis) Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to Venus 4-6, mentioning afterward that the semifinal set went by too quickly. Fair enough, Sveta’s not known to be the fastest out of the blocks.
The biggest question mark after this event is attached to Kim Clijsters, who admitted last week that this year’s Australian Open loss to Nadia Petrova “had a big impact” on her. Having pulled out of Fed Cup last month, this was Kim’s only competitive play between Melbourne and next week’s Indian Wells tournament. And her only chance to build up her stores of depleted confidence (perhaps a tougher task in pro tennis than building up one’s bank account). So, was Monday night enough?
Maybe I’m over thinking this. It was only an exhibition, right?