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Williams sisters longshot threats at US Open

They have played sporadically, pulling away from the court through injury and other interests, yet the dynamic duo is poised to challenge the favourites.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2006 17:52 IST

They have played sporadically, pulling away from the court through injury and other interests. Yet Williams sisters Venus and Serena are poised to challenge the US Open favourites on the opposite sides of the draw.

Serena, slowed by a left knee injury, has played only 12 matches this year. She was missing from action for six months following the Australian Open before returning for two hard court tournaments in the run up to the Open.

Venus has played five tournaments in 2006 but none since Wimbledon, hampered by an injured wrist.

Venus is seeded 30th. Serena, now ranked 90th, needed a wildcard invite to join the fun at Flushing Meadows.

Besides their injuries, the sisters have pursued other off-court interests. Both are involved in fashion design and Serena has been chasing acting opportunities.

Still, the dynamic sisters, both former world number ones with 12 grand slam singles titles between them, can not be counted out at the US Open championships starting on Monday.

"I saw (Serena) this summer out in LA. I saw her play three matches. She won a couple three-setters. She actually looked a lot fitter than the last time I saw her which was in Australia," TV commentator and former player Mary Joe Fernandez said at this week's draw.

"She was running a lot of balls down. She was actually pretty patient, which was a good sign for me.

"I wish she would have played one more tournament to get a few more matches in, but she's trying to protect her body, making sure she is a hundred per cent with her left knee."

Venus, 26, showed what she can do when she gets on a roll, winning last year's Wimbledon as the 14th seed.