“He has been silent since then” | Relief

Nacho Encabo

It was January 1998 and Serena Williams was in Australia experiencing her first Grand Slam experience. She was 16 years old, had already established herself in the top 100 of the WTA rankings and was considered one of the most promising. Arrogance and bravado, as always, She looked so physically superior to other girls her age that she was convinced she could compete with the players in the men’s tournament..

One day in January, while walking around Melbourne Park, He saw a slender and beautiful tennis player training. It was Spanish Francisco Duck Klava, who at that time was ranked 32nd in the world ranking and had five ATP titles on his resume. Something must have caught Serena Williams’ attention because with the support of her sister Venus He went to the ATP office to say that they should organize a match against him..

Employees of the Association of Professional Tennis Players could not believe it. Duck Clavet too. “They came to the ATP and said they wanted to play an ATP top 100 player. and that they believed that they could win, that they could compete. Then it came to me through I don’t know who from the SPS. It was Serena who said: “With Pato Clavet.” He probably thought I was lazy…“, recalls Clavet, who is now in Relevo, now retired and dedicated to teaching at the Chamartín Tennis Club.

Pato Clavet was still in the singles draw. “That’s impossible, next time I’ll train.”– was the more or less polite answer of the tennis player from Aranjuez. “I took it as an anecdotal fact, that is, I didn’t know if they really meant it, if they said it as a joke… But hey, you know the rest of the story, right? What’s happened?– asks Klavet.

What happened was that given the Spaniard’s refusal, heThe ATP has contacted the slightly more modest tennis player to play against Serena. The chosen one was the German Karsten Braasch, who then occupied 203rd place in the world ranking and was very fond of beer and cigarettes., according to some articles from that time. The German lost in the first round both in singles to Spaniard Alberto Berasategui and in doubles, and was eliminated five days later. I had a lot of free time.

Court No. 17 at Melbourne Park was chosen for the match. There were several fans in the stands.but it was played without a chair umpire, ball boy or television cameras. The match did not last long and Braasch won 6:1, to the surprise of Serena Williams. “I hit the winning shots in the women’s competition, and he did it easily. The next time I’m going to beat him, I’ll have to gain a little weight,” said the American tennis player.

One of those watching the game in the stands was Venus Williams, Serena’s older sister. And he also wanted to try. This went on a little longer: Braasch beat Venus 6-2 and then posed for photos with two women who would revolutionize women’s sports years later..

Clave: “Serena should have won a very good victory”

“They are very good tennis players and hit the ball well, but If you played in a men’s tournament, you may be able to hit certain shots that will put them in a difficult position.“Braasch himself wrote later in a column in The keeper. “I hit him with a spin that they have no experience with. And another key point was that I hit every shot. They hit corners that should have been winners on the women’s track, but I managed to get them back. I won, but I think neither I, nor Venus, nor Serena took the match too seriously. “We were just having a little fun.” The German said that in the previous hours he had played golf and drank a couple of beers.

I believe that since then they have been silent and have not said anything about joining the Union of Right Forces again.“Says Pato Clavet, who prefers not to reveal what he talked about with Serena years later when their paths crossed again. “I choose to ignore it. I think when he challenged him he must have had a very good win and he must have had good morale,” adds the Spaniard, who lost in the third round to Moroccan Hicham Arazi in five sets at the Australian Open.

“I have a lot of respect for Serena. She was an outstanding tennis player, she was the best in tennis. The truth is that he possessed strength and power comparable to many men. For example, he served harder than me. But of course, in the end many things really matter…

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