Bangalore Open: Williams sisters to make up for Sania’s absence

March 2nd, 2008 - 1:59 pm ICT by admin  

By Saumojyoti Singha Choudhury
Bangalore, March 2 (IANS) Tennis ace Sania Mirza’s withdrawal from the WTA Bangalore Open, starting Monday, might have hugely disappointed her fans, but the organisers insist that it will have little impact on the glitz of the event. The presence of American ‘Williams sisters’, Venus and Serena, in the $600,000 Tier II event has already created a rousing response from the fans, says Sunder Raju, tournament director and Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) secretary

The star siblings would more than make up for Sania’s absence, he says.

The Bangalore Open, which is in its third edition, has been upgraded to Tier II WTA event from Tier III with a steep increase in the prize money from $175,000 to $600,000, thus making it the biggest women’s tennis extravaganza in the South and South East Asia.

“The tournament is the biggest women’s tennis event not only in India but whole of South and South East Asia. It will provide enough scope for Indian tennis fans to witness some of the big names of women’s circuit,” Raju told IANS.

However, the build-up to the tournament received a severe jolt last month when Sania, ranked 32nd in the world, dropped a bombshell saying that she is pulling out of the tournament to evade controversies.

The tournament director, though feels the absence of 21-year-old was ably made up by the presence of many top 20 players including world No.7 and world No.8 Serena and Venus Williams. The icing on the cake is that world No.4 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia has agreed to take part in the tournament.

“Things are going pretty well. The field is very strong with a lot of good players. The crowd response is also great. Tickets for the last couple of days of the tournament are more or less sold out. People are eagerly waiting to see the big names of women’s tennis in action, especially Williams sisters,” Raju said.

Asked whether the organisers approached Sania after her decision to skip the tournament, Raju said: “No. We did not”

“In her decision, she (Sania) had already made it crystal clear that she will not play in the country. So there was no point in approaching her.”

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