Old friend lashes out at Richard Williams

Published on Aug 28, 2003 10:09 AM IST

Venus and Serena Williams are nowhere to be seen at the US Open but their father Richard was again in the headlines.

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PTI | ByReuters, New York

Venus and Serena Williams are nowhere to be seen at the US Open but their father Richard was again in the headlines following a verbal volley fired at him by the father of another player.

Angela Haynes's father Fred launched an attack on Richard, who coaches Venus and Serena, claiming his old friend had reneged on a promise to help his 18-year-old daughter.

"Venus and Serena were like my kids, and my kids were like Richard's son and daughter," Haynes said after Angela lost her US Open debut to 50th-ranked Tina Pisnik of Slovenia on Tuesday.

"It kind of broke my heart (when the Williamses moved to Florida) because I never saw them again.

"If you're in the hole and you get out of the hole, you stick a pole back in the hole," Haynes told the New York Daily News. "It just didn't happen."

Haynes said Richard never responded to his e-mails, changed his phone number and never followed through on a vow he made at a tournament last spring to help Haynes's daughter.

Asked how much Williams has helped Angela's career, Haynes told the tabloid newspaper: "Zero."

The fairytale story of Angela Haynes has been a compelling one at this year's Open.

The lefthander, whose ranking has climbed from 857 to 221 this year, comes from the same Los Angeles suburb as Venus and Serena and wants to follow them from Compton to the top of the tennis world.

"It was pretty inspiring to see them," Angela said. "It really opens up the gate for people like me and people in those kind of neighbourhoods. Keeps the dream alive."

But she would never have had the chance to emulate the Williams sisters had it not been for a remarkable sacrifice by her grandparents.

Joe, a former Negro League baseball player, and Lucy Haynes came out of retirement for five years and did custodial work at the FBI Building in Westwood, California, to help fund her tennis career.

"That blew me away. They are so behind me in my career, and that really meant a lot to me," Angela said after her first round defeat.

The youngster turned professional 21 months ago and has had a solid year on the USTA Pro Circuit, tennis' minor league.

She won a $10,000 tournament in Houston and made two other finals. After qualifying for her first WTA event - in Stanford, California, last month - she defeated Italy's Rita Grande before losing to Lisa Raymond in the second round.

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