Serena Williams earns dlrs 375,000 without lifting racket as Davenport injures knee

Sunday, November 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ Just a day after clinching the No. 1 ranking, Lindsay Davenport pulled out of the Sanex Championships final on Sunday with a bruised knee, handing the title to Serena Williams.

Williams picked up her 10th career title at the dlrs 3 million championships, the tour's year-ending event and biggest behind the Grand Slams.

``I can't tell you how bad I feel for everyone involved, but I can't put any weight on it (the leg),'' Davenport said. ``I would rather play and lose but I can't.''

Davenport's knee injury flared up during a thrilling semifinal win Saturday against Kim Clijsters that allowed her to pass Jennifer Capriati and clinch the year-end No. 1.

Davenport injured the knee in March in Miami, which sidelined her for nearly 2 1/2 months.

Williams, playing her first championships, captured her third title of the year and will finish the year at No. 7.

The 1999 U.S. Open champions was told of Davenports' withdrawal during practice less than two hours before the match.

``It definitely feels strange, I've never been in this situation before,'' Williams said. ``I know if it happened to me, I would feel bad.''

Tour officials said it was just the 10th time in 31 years that a tournament final hadn't been played.

Williams took home dlrs 750,000 in first prize money, getting half of it without swinging a racket. Davenport's second place is worth dlrs 375,000.

``Wouldn't you take it? I definitely earned it. I worked for it years and years ago,'' she said.

Williams completed an up-and-down year, passing dlrs 2 million in earnings, but failing to win a grand slam. Her only final was against Venus in the U.S. Open, the first of the century between sisters.

Next year she plans to play more tournaments in a bid to be No. 1.

``You guys are going to get tired of looking at me because I've going to be everywhere,'' Williams said.

Davenport finished the year No. 1 for the second time after 1998 with the tough 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) win against Clijsters. The Belgian teen-ager, world No. 5, was the losing French Open finalist.

That ended a tense battle for No. 1 against Capriati, the tour's closest finish in more than a decade. Davenport ends 2001 with 4,902 ranking points, 11 ahead of Capriati.

Davenport's injury raises the possibility she will not be able to practice again until the Gold Coast in January when the women's tour returns from a two-month off-season.

She first bruised the knee in March in Miami, then returned just before Wimbledon in late June.

``I can just hope for the best. It's much more painful than it was in that match,'' Davenport said. ``At least I could finish a set then.''

Davenport felt two bones knock together in her knee at 5-2 in the tiebreaker against Clijsters during a cliffhanger match in which control of the last set switched hands several times.

She was chasing a drop shot from Clijsters when she felt the pain in her knee.

``Right there I knew I did something that hurt my knee,'' Clijsters said. ``I kept playing because I had match point.''

If Davenport had lost the match, Capriati would have retained her No. 1 ranking.

She tried to practice Sunday morning, hours before the final, but broke it off because of the pain.

Pulling out of the final ended Davenport's 15-match winning streak, which gave her three titles in three weeks and allowed her to charge past Capriati in the rankings.