WIMBLEDON, England — After her surprising run to the fourth round of Wimbledon, Melanie Oudin is hoping to establish herself as a regular contender on the women’s tour.
“I’m very proud of myself how I did here,” the 17-year-old from Marietta, Ga., said Monday after losing 6-4, 7-5 to 11th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska. “I think it’s just like another step that I’m taking. Now I know that I can play with these girls and this is what I want to do, and this is what I want to be.”
Oudin, who faced two match points in her first-round Wimbledon qualifying match, had lost both of her previous Grand Slam main draw matches.
Her surprise Wimbledon showing included a 6-7, 7-5, 6-2 upset of sixth-ranked Jelena Jankovic in the third round.
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Oudin started 2008 with the goal of breaking into the top 100. She’s now assured of that: the WTA Tour projects her ranking will move from No. 124 to No. 70 after Wimbledon.
Oudin became the youngest American since 17-year-old Jennifer Capriati, who reached the 1993 quarterfinals, to make it to the fourth round at Wimbledon.
She was also the youngest American to reach a Grand Slam fourth-round since Serena Williams, as a 17-year-old, won the 1999 U.S. Open.
And she joined Venus and Serena Williams as the only American teens to reach Wimbledon’s fourth round since 18-year-old Alexandra Stevenson got to the semis in 1999.
“I’m still the same person, you know (that I was) coming into the tournament,” Oudin said. “I think I’ve improved this week. I think I’ve gotten better as a player. But I just look forward to keep going.”
Oudin’s Wimbledon run has effectively ended her junior career. She’s eligible to play junior tournaments through her 18th year, but her coach, Brian de Villiers, said that would be “pointless.”
For now, De Villiers said Oudin will continue to test herself on the WTA Tour during this summer’s s U.S. hard court circuit.
“She has a very sensible head on her shoulder,” de Villiers said. “This will not go to her head.”
Oudin’s mother, Leslie, and father, John, flew to London over the weekend to watch their daughter’s fourth-round match.
The parents didn’t expect their daughter to experience such quick success. But they said she’s been dreaming of becoming No. 1 since she was 9 years old.
“She’s worked hard and I’m so glad that things are paying off for her,” Leslie Oudin said. “It’s been a thrill to see the progress and that she’s enjoying it. I’m really surprised because I didn’t really expect this until, maybe, next year.”
Oudin is one of three sisters. Her twin, Katherine, hopes to play collegiate tennis, but has no interest in playing professionally. And there’s younger sister Christina, 11.
Serena Williams has nearly half a million of followers on Twitter, but her sister Venus isn’t one of them.
Serena joked Monday that Venus might be too much of an elitist to spend time on social networking online.
“She’s really artsy and into smart things,” Serena said after moving into the Wimbledon quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Daniela Hantuchova. “She’s into learning languages and getting degrees.
“I’m into Twitter, so … we’re quite different.”
Venus, a five-time Wimbledon champion, said she had made an effort to check out her sister’s tweets.
“I tried to see her (Twitter) site the other day, but you have to be a member,” said Venus, who advanced after Ana Ivanovic retired with a thigh injury when trailing 6-1, 0-1.
Venus says she’s going to start a Twitter page soon, though, but isn’t holding up hopes of matching Serena’s tech savvy.
“She stays really up,” Venus said. “She has My Space, Facebook, and Twitter. I never stayed that up, but I guess I’m going to get updated. I haven’t really been on any of her pages, but she’s going to be one of my friends now.”
Belarusian teenager Victoria Azarenka is promising to control her temper better after yelling at the umpire during her win over No. 10 Nadia Petrova on Monday.
The 19-year-old Azarenka, who has been touted as a future Grand Slam winner, told the umpire she was “ruining the match” after what she thought were bad line calls during the second set of her 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 victory in the fourth round.
“I’m an emotional player, and I’ve always been like that,” Azarenka said. “Just sometimes I get a little bit upset with a few bad calls, which there clearly was today.
“I just have to keep trying to calm myself down sometimes, but you never know. It’s not like sitting in the living room and watching TV.”
The eighth-seeded Azarenka, who lives and trains in Scottsdale, Arizona, will also have to cut back on the 10 double-faults she had Monday if she wants to beat two-time champion Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.
But she doesn’t want to remain too calm on the court, saying she sometimes plays better when she’s angry.
“As long as I don’t really go crazy with my emotions,” she said. “I’m always pumped up.”
Azarenka said she had not apologized to the officials after the match.
“I actually felt bad because I reacted pretty bad for that,” she said. “But as I said, sometimes it’s really tough to control your emotions when the match is really tight, and some bad call comes up. ... I just really have to learn how to do it, and hopefully next time I’ll do it.”