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1999 US Open

Like, wow! It's the president

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Posted: Saturday September 11, 1999 09:54 PM

  Williams' conversation with the president was devoid of protocol, as she interrupted him and asked several questions. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- President Clinton called Serena Williams to congratulate her on winning the U.S. Open singles title Saturday night, then handed the phone over to daughter Chelsea so the two kids could gab about everything except the boys they met at the malt shop.

With the innocence of two teen-agers making plans for the weekend, theey made plans for the weekend: Chelsea, 19, said she would show Serena, 17, around the Stanford University campus next week after Williams plays in the Federation Cup.

"Sure, if I'm around," Williams said before she caught herself and said, "I'm sure I'll be around."

Williams also quizzed Chelsea about her major: History.

"That's definitely a tough subject. I don't think I would be able to do that," Williams said. "I excel in athletics."

"You most certainly do," Chelsea said.

Williams' conversation with the president was also disarmingly devoid of protocol. She frequently interrupted him, asking questions about the number of time zones between New York and Auckland, New Zealand, where the president was meeting with Asia-Pacific leaders.

Williams, whose victory was witnessed in person by former President Jimmy Carter, said she didn't know that Clinton was a tennis fan. And she was flabbergasted to learn that he was watching from New Zealand as she beat Martina Hingis of Switzerland 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

"So you follow tennis? I never knew," Williams said. "I'm glad you guys were watching. I hope you guys were cheering for me. If not, that's OK."

When the president assured her that he was, she simply said, "Wow."

After clearing up the fact that it was 16 hours later in New Zealand, Williams dropped a couple more "Wows" and told him, "I didn't really think my day could get any better. And then I hear that the president wants to call. Pretty stoked."

Clinton invited Williams and her family -- her sister Venus lost to Hingis in the Open semifinals -- to the White House for a personal tour.

"Wow, I'm so excited," Williams said. "We're definitely going to make a trip this year, then."

Related information
Serena Williams captures U.S. Open women's singles crown
Serena Williams latest black to win major tennis title
Agassi, Martin to face off in U.S. Open final
Notebook: Other Saturday champions
Martin one step from a Grand Slam title
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