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I'm not a Wimbledon cheat: Serena

Williams came underfire for her dramatic collapse to the Centre Court turf during her fourth round win over Hantuchova.
None | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2007 06:34 PM IST

Serena Williams has angrily hit back at her critics who accused her of gamesmanship at Wimbledon.

Williams, the champion in 2002 and 2003, came underfire for her dramatic collapse to the Centre Court turf during her fourth round win over Daniela Hantuchova which was followed by demands to take a toilet break in the final set decider.

But many in the crowd were stunned to see her then merrily chase down the ball when the tie turned in her favour despite having both legs heavily strapped.

Former men's champion Michael Stich said Williams, who damaged the calf on her left leg, was being overdramatic.

"I know the pain I was in. I have never been overdramatic in my whole career," said Williams whose campaign was ended in the quarter-finals by top seed Justine Henin in straight sets on Wednesday.

"I've always been a fighter. My career has been more stellar than Michael Stich's so he can say whatever he likes."

"I've never taken a shot at him. I would never make fun of someone in my position."

Williams, who wore a strapping to protect her left calf on Wednesday as well as a bandage on her left thumb after she sprained it during the win over Hantuchova, said she defied the advice of doctors as well as her father not to play.

She also believes had she been fully fit she would have defeated Henin and gained revenge for her demoralising defeat at the hands of the world number one at the French Open last month.

"Considering my leg and most of all having no backhand and no shot, I think I did pretty well," said the American seventh seed after her 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat.

"If I had been healthy, I think I would have won, one hundred percent."

Sister Venus came to the defence of Serena claiming her critics were 'ignorant'.

"I am definitely offended," said Venus. "I think Serena has always proved to be the ultimate sportswoman. She gives credit when it's due. She doesn't complain."

"She wins most of the time but when she loses she takes the loss and learns from it. Anyone who would suggests (that the injury was faked) is clearly ignorant."

Venus was speaking after her 6-1, 6-3 victory over Russian second seed Maria Sharapova had put her into the quarter-finals where she will take on another Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the last four.

The 27-year-old American, chasing a fourth Wimbledon title, praised her sister, claiming that their parents, Richard and Oracene, didn't want Serena to play for fear of long-term damage.

"It was tough for her. I wanted to run out there and hit the ball for her," said Venus.

Meanwhile, Venus says she agrees with her father who believes she can keep playing and winning until her mid-30s.

"I have so much time off in my career especially in the last few years. I've just been MIA (missing in action) a lot of the time," she said.

"So I definitely feel like I have a little more extra fuel in the tank than other players who have played a lot more than I have."

Despite her optimism over the future, Sharapova believes Williams will have to wait for a fourth Wimbledon title.

"I think Justine has been very consistent this year."

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