Williams Sisters Set Up Showdown

Thursday, March 15th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Serena Williams has a role model, housemate and tennis practice partner all rolled into one: her sister, Venus.

At the Masters Series tournament, Venus also will be her younger sibling's opponent in the semifinals, a rare match between the two.

Venus overpowered Elena Dementieva 6-0, 6-3, and Serena beat defending champion Lindsay Davenport 6-1, 6-2 in Wednesday's quarterfinals.

Serena, 19, laughed about being a typical ``baby sister.''

``I just find myself copying her all the time,'' she said. ``It's really ridiculous. Now that Venus and I live together, I'm always trying to peek over on her side of the house, see what's she's doing.

``She sets a good example for a younger sister. She's not really doing anything crazy and wild. We stay out of trouble.''

Venus, 20, also laughed about being ``big sister.''

``When we go to restaurants, she'll ask me, `What are you getting?' I say, `Why?' And she takes a lot of my things. I can't find things and I know she has them,'' Venus said. ``I guess she has the right to do that, though, the little sister.

``I feel happy to be the big sister; I do what I can.''

However, neither will be helpful Thursday night, when their showdown — a rematch of their Wimbledon semifinal last year — is expected to highlight the evening session at Indian Wells.

They rarely play in the same tournaments except for the Grand Slams, so they will face each other for just the sixth time as pros.

Venus, last year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, has beaten her sister four times, including a 6-2, 7-6 (3) victory at Wimbledon. Serena's only victory in the sibling rivalry was a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 decision in Munich in 1999.

``I don't even remember the first match we played against each other, but that was tough. Ever since then, it's been a lot easier for me,'' said 1999 U.S. Open champion Serena, referring to a 7-6, 6-1 loss to Venus in the 1998 Australian Open.

Venus said she will have no trouble getting motivated for the match.

``It's pretty easy, because she's really a great player and a tough player. If I don't bring my best game, I'll be defeated,'' she said. ``At the Wimbledon semifinal, I really wanted to win Wimbledon so I guess I played a little better that day. She played me in a final at the Grand Slam Cup (in Munich) and that day I really was scraping to get one set from her, because she was really playing well.

``So it's easy to focus; if I don't, the result will be terrible.''

The winner plays Saturday against the winner of the Martina Hingis-Kim Clijsters semifinal.

In the men's Masters Series second round, Andre Agassi beat Tommy Haas 7-6 (5), 6-3; Pete Sampras defeated Fabrice Santoro 6-3, 3-6, 6-0; and top-ranked Gustavo Kuerten beat Taylor Dent 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2.

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