Posted: Friday September 2, 2005 11:38AM; Updated: Friday September 2, 2005 1:53PM
But even flipping back and forth between them seemed like a chore: "We just got TiVo at home," she explained. "Serena and I are both excited."
That Venus has managed to insulate herself from such unprecedented tragedy is even more impressive when you consider how personally her younger sister -- and roommate -- has taken it.
"Last year we in Palm Beach got hit really bad," Serena said. "That was like a Category 2 or 3, maybe at the most. It was devastating down there. It was a lot of damage. I even lost a window. It was pretty sad."
Soon after putting away Catalina Castano in straight sets on Wednesday, Serena pledged to donate $100 for every ace she hits for the rest of the year to the hurricane effort. Never mind that she'd have to smack 400 just to equal the price tag of the 13-carat diamond earrings she insisted upon wearing during her first-round match against Yung-Jan Chang. Serena soon might have to up the ante, considering she's hit a total of three so far in the tournament.
"I don't do so good with the aces," Serena confesses. "I'm going to have to start doing it for double-faults."
Indifference is not something we've come to expect from the Williams sisters -- especially Venus, given how tirelessly she has worked to paint herself as worldly. The evidence to support her well-roundedness is almost too abundant: the love for poetry, the passion for fashion, the business in interior design, the occasional antiquing. But press her on an issue with a little social gravitas and, strangely, Williams declares herself just another jock. It's just too heavy, all these thousands of people homeless and left for dead on American soil -- most of them black like her and poor like she once was.
Show that same image to Andre Agassi, and it reduces him to a blubbering mess.
"You've got families starving, no food, no water, no electricity," said Agassi, who even referenced 9/11 in his comments. "You have power lines [on fire] under the water. Nobody knows where to go, what to do. That doesn't even count the potential diseases that are going to come as a result of this and the lives that are going to be affected and lost. It's terrible."
The USTA will send $500,000 of its considerable U.S. Open proceeds to hurricane victims in the Gulf region. Agassi is among a handful of players lending their celebrity to the cause. Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Robby Ginepri, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Donald Young and Bob and Mike Bryan all are contributing tennis equipment, apparel and memorabilia for an auction on Sept. 11 to benefit the American Red Cross hurricane-relief efforts.
Lindsay Davenport also plans to do what she can to help. As consumed as she is with winning a second U.S. Open title, she's finding she can never really escape reality completely.
"It's funny, you feel so removed," Davenport said. "It's the same country, yet it seems like everyone [in New York] is obviously concentrating on tennis. All you have to do is turn on CNN to see exactly the horrors that are there."