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Venus Williams loses to China's Li Na

Li Na soaks up the support of the crowd in Beijing after Venus Williams in Olympic singles. BEIJING -- Wimbledon champion Venus Williams took on Li Na of China and 10,000 of her closest friends on center court of the Olympic tennis tournament here Thursday night.

And Williams lost.

With a packed house of 10,000 hanging on every shot, Li won a tight match against a higher-ranked opponent, 7-5, 7-5, and sent the understandably partisan Chinese crowd into a frenzy.

The prospect of a Williams-Williams final, a repeat of the Wimbledon final, had gone out the window about an hour earlier, when Venus' sister, Serena, was ousted by Russian Elena Dementieva in three sets. Then, the prospect of a U.S. female getting a medal -- which had looked very good just a few hours earlier as the round began following a nearly four-hour rain delay -- ended when Venus Williams' forehand return of Li's serve settled into the net on match point.

"I am so excited," Li said. "She is the best player in the world, from Wimbledon."

But even the best player in the world, if that is the case, would have had trouble handling the atmosphere in a home arena against a Chinese player.

Williams headed off to play doubles with Serena and was unavailable for comment in the mixed zone, where players are asked to stop to do interviews.

The Williams sisters won the gold medal in doubles in 2000 in Sydney.

-- Bill Dwyre

Photo: Li Na soaks up the support of the crowd in Beijing after defeating Venus Williams in Olympic singles. Credit: Elise Amendola / Associated Press

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Comments (7)

Yeah, that was a very unfortunate match. Venus was up 4-1 in the first set, and then the crowd just went totally crazy. It was very rude, and not conduct that is appreciated in tennis. It didn't help that Venus kept double faulting, but she tried to hold her on. The official had to ask 3 times for the crowd to settle down. Unfortunate for Li Na, the crowd can't win the gold for her.

I dunno, given that tennis players are pretty unused to rabid partisan crowds--couldn't the crowd at least help a lot?

When the US is lost, all the ugly crap comes out!

if she couldn't bear the pressure of the crowd, that's the problem of her bad mental ability! She needs to work on that!

silly, it is not an excuse for a Wimbledon champion to lose because of the crowd.

Granted that the crowd should behave better. Like they say, if you can not take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

There is something else though. Venus looked like she was very tired and down. It could be the heat or something else. It would be helpful if we could hear what she had to say about the match.

Li Na was playing a super game. She deserved to win.


it was great for Asia that Li won the match, why americans are blaming on crowd, face the fact Li was wonderfull in her play. accept the truth looser american.........

C'mon, the crowd wasn't that bad.. ok, it was slightly more boisterous, but I've seen plenty of partisan crowds before.. French Open, US Open. It's not an excuse.. Venus is a professional. Give credit where credit is due.


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