Venus Williams Is Wimbledon's Top Seed

Tuesday, June 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Venus and Serena Williams were seeded 1-2 for Wimbledon on Monday, setting up the chance of another Grand Slam final between the two sisters.

Seven-time champion Pete Sampras, meanwhile, was installed at No. 7, his lowest seeding since 1991 when he was No. 8. Australia's Lleyton Hewitt was seeded No. 1.

It's the second year that Wimbledon has seeded 32 players instead of 16. But the All England Club continues to take into account a player's grass-court credentials rather than strictly following the tour rankings.

Venus and Serena Williams are Nos. 1-2 in the latest WTA rankings, the first sisters to hold the top two spots.

Venus, the two-time defending Wimbledon champion, will be at the top of Tuesday's draw and Serena at the bottom, meaning they can't meet until the final.

If they both get there, it will be the third all-Williams Grand Slam final in 10 months. Venus beat Serena for the U.S. Open title in September in New York, while Serena won the French Open in straight sets in Paris last month.

Either Venus or Serena has won six of the last 11 Grand Slam titles, while Jennifer Capriati has three majors in that span.

The sisters have faced each other before at Wimbledon, with Venus winning 6-2, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals in 2000.

As usual, the All England Club stuck closely to the WTA rankings for the women's seedings.

Capriati is No. 3, followed by Monica Seles, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin and Jelena Dokic. Sandrine Testud, Amelie Mauresmo and Silvia Farina Elia round out the top 10.

Former champions Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport will miss the tournament with injuries,.

Hewitt, who is ranked No. 1, got the top men's seeding as expected. The 21-year-old Australian strengthened his favorite's status by beating Henman on Sunday to win the Queen's Club tournament for the third straight year.

Marat Safin, ranked No. 2, was seeded second, while Andre Agassi was seeded No. 3, one spot above his ranking. Henman was seeded No. 4, with Tommy Haas fifth and Yevgeny Kafelnikov sixth.

Sampras, who has slumped to No. 13 in the rankings, was bumped up six places in the seedings. That's still far off his usual top spot.

Since 1993, Sampras has been seeded No. 1 every year, except for 1995 when he was No. 2 behind Agassi.

Sampras has not won a tournament since capturing his seventh Wimbledon title _ and record 13th Grand Slam crown _ in 2000. He was upset in the fourth round last year by Roger Federer.

Sampras was ousted in the first round of the French Open last month by Andrea Gaudenzi and lost to Nicolas Kiefer in the second round of last week's Wimbledon warmup in Halle, Germany.

Federer is seeded No. 8, followed by Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson and Juan Carlos Ferrero, the French Open runner-up.

The men's field is missing both of last year's finalists, Goran Ivanisevic and Pat Rafter. Ivanisevic, the first wild card to win Wimbledon, is recovering from shoulder surgery, while Rafter is taking an extended break from tennis.