Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Wimbledon: Serena beats Sharapova then prays for Capriati recovery

Serena Williams of USA in action during her match against Maria Sharapova of Russia on Day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

Serena Williams has said she will pray for Jennifer Capriati, who is reported to be recovering in a Florida hospital from a drug overdose.

Emergency services were called to a hotel in Riviera Beach, Florida, to attend to the 34-year-old Capriati, according to the US celebrity website TMZ.

Her father told the celebrity website TMZ his daughter was “recovering well” in hospital while a spokeswoman for the former grand-slam champion said she was expected to make a full recovery from an “accidental overdose” of prescribed medication.

Asked if she would get in touch with Capriati, Wimbledon's reigning women's champion Williams said: “I probably will definitely see how that goes and pray for everyone involved. If there's any way I can do anything to help, reach out, I definitely will do that.”

Capriati burst onto the tennis scene as a teenager, reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1991 at the age of 15 after defeating then defending champion Martina Navratilova.

But her early career was blighted by personal problems including a shoplifting incident in 1993 and an arrest for possession of marijuana the following year.

She did not play at all in 1995 but later mounted a successful comeback and won three grand slam singles titles — the Australian Open in 2001 and 2002, and the French Open in 2001.

In recent years she has suffered from a persistent shoulder injury and in 2007 admitted to feeling depressed and having suicidal thoughts.

Yesterday, Centre Court once more brought the best out of Williams who used her booming serve to see off a rejuvenated Maria Sharapova in a gripping fourth-round match.

Sharapova tried to turn up the heat on the defending champion on the warmest day of Wimbledon but Williams maintained her cool to secure a 7-6 6-4 triumph and book her place in the last eight.

While the tennis was eye-catching, the noise inside the court generated by both players also grabbed the attention. Sharapova's high-pitched screams registered 104 decibels in the stands, while Williams summoned 91 decibels with her yelps, according to reporters' sound recorders.

“If she's consistently serving and hitting those spots with that speed, I think it's pretty tough,” said 23-year-old Sharapova, who squandered three set points in the tie-break.

Meanwhile, sister Venus made a late entrance and was pleased to come through a stern test against Australia's Jarmila Groth to reach an 11th Wimbledon quarter-final.

After a tight first set, the world number two had to break twice to stay in the second before edging a close tie-break to triumph 6-4 7-6 (7/5).

Groth is ranked down at 92nd in the world rankings but Williams was certainly troubled by the 23-year-old's impressive serving and precision groundstrokes.

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