0

Marietta teen stuns Jankovic at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England - As a tyke growing up in Marietta, Melanie Oudin would watch Venus and Serena Williams on TV and tell anyone who would listen that she was going to play at Wimbledon, too, one day.

Who knew she'd be right? And do so well, so quickly?

Making her Wimbledon debut at age 17 after getting through qualifying, the 124th-ranked Oudin joined the Williams sisters in the fourth round at the All England Club by beating former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 6-7 (8), 7-5, 6-2 Saturday in the most startling result of the tournament's opening week.

'(I) was just thinking that she was any other player, and this was any other match, and I was at any other tournament - you know, not, like, on the biggest stage, at Wimbledon, playing my first top-10 player,' Oudin said. 'I mean, I go into every match the exact same, you know, like, no matter who I play. It's not, like, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm playing the No. 1 player in the world.'

Another U.S. qualifier, 133rd-ranked Jesse Levine of Boca Raton, Fla., couldn't extend his run in the men's tournament, losing to No. 19 Stanislas Wawrinka 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. That leaves No. 6 Andy Roddick as the last American man in the tournament.

The only time Oudin really lost her way was when her match ended and it was time to leave Court 3, a patch of grass known as 'The Graveyard of Champions,' because of the long list of stars upset there. She wasn't quite sure where to go and asked someone to direct her toward the exit.

Not all that surprising, when you consider that a year ago, Oudin entered the junior event at Wimbledon - seeded No. 1 among the girls - and failed to make it out of the second round, losing 6-1, 6-3 to eventual champion Laura Robson of Britain.

Yet there Oudin was Saturday, outlasting 2008 U.S. Open runner-up Jankovic over nearly 3 hours, then calling Mom and Dad back home to share in the revelry.

'My emotions are all over the place,' Oudin's father, John, said in a telephone interview. 'When I think about watching Bjorn Borg and Boris Becker in their starched whites at Wimbledon, I just can't believe Melanie is there. It's hardly any words other than, 'Wow!' We've been saying a lot of that. Just, 'Wow!'

Shortly after his daughter's victory, he and Oudin's mother, Leslie, began scouring the Internet for flights. Even Grandma - who encouraged Melanie and twin sister Katherine to take up tennis - might make the overseas trip to see Oudin face No. 11 Agniesza Radwanska of Poland on Monday with a quarterfinal berth at stake, heady stuff for someone who was 0-2 at Grand Slam tournaments until this week.

Then again, Oudin - it's pronounced 'oo-DAN,' on account of her father's French ancestry - long has shown ambition.

'My goal has always been, since I was little, to become No. 1 in the world one day,' she said.