Change of heart pays dividends for Davenport

This time last year Lindsay Davenport walked out of the All England Club convinced that her 11th visit was her last, but how wrong could she have been…

A semi-final defeat at the hands of eventual champion Maria Sharapova made her believe even more that her decision to quit at the end of 2004 was right.

But then the Californian rediscovered her passion for the sport and as she was injury-free, the 29-year-old did an about-turn and decided to carry on.

It's a decision which has paid dividends.

Since the turn of the year she has been runner-up at the Australian Open, won two tour titles to take her total to 47 and stands proudly on top of the world rankings.

On Thursday, she faces Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo for a place in the Wimbledon final, six years after she was crowned queen of centre court.

"At the time, I believed in what I said because I felt like I really hadn't been a contender in Grand Slams," she said.

"After experiencing the kind of success I had throughout my career I didn't want to be just out there to make the round of 16, quarters or hoping to get to the semi one time.

"I was looking forward to doing something different but all of a sudden, after I opened my big mouth, I started playing a lot better, started believing for the first time in a couple of years what I was capable of doing.

"Now, I can't even think of stopping. I feel really excited to be still where I am. There are lot of opportunities ahead of me and I'm looking forward to the challenges that are still presenting themselves."

American women's tennis might also have breathed a sigh of relief at Davenport's change of heart.

With the world number one closing in on her 30th birthday, fellow veteran Jennifer Capriati sidelined by injury and continuing question marks over the future of Venus and Serena Williams, Amy Frazier is the next highest ranked American at 30.

But she is almost 33 years old. After her Meghann Shaughnessy is marooned at 63.

"We have had so many great American players in the last two decades at the top and winning Slams," said Davenport.

"If you take myself, Venus, Serena and Jennifer out, it doesn't seem too bright. You never know if the cycle will change. I just think that in the States right now, girls are just picking different sports.

"I think it's important that we get back to getting tennis back out there, in commercials, in little girls' lives."