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The Williams sisters crushed their second-round opponents in

By Stephen WilsonAssociated Press Published: June 27, 1998 12:00 AM

The Williams sisters crushed their second-round opponents in straight sets Thursday _ each conceding only three games _ and are on course for a high-powered meeting in the fourth round.

Venus routed Barbara Schett 6-1, 6-2, a victory that featured the fastest serve ever recorded in women's tennis. Serena trounced fellow 16-year-old Mirjana Lucic 6-3, 6-0.

Venus watched the first set of her sister's match on Centre Court, then walked over to Court 1 to play her own.

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"Serena is definitely a juggernaut," Venus said.

And how do you stop a juggernaut?

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"Just become a bigger one yourself," she said. "I guess you have to become the nemesis."

Venus, who turned 18 last week and is the No. 6 seed, is playing in her second Wimbledon, while the unseeded Serena is appearing in her first.

When the draw was made, it appeared unlikely the sisters would meet because Serena had Anna Kournikova looming as a second-round opponent. But Kournikova pulled out with a thumb injury, clearing the path for an all-Williams clash.

There are just two remaining hurdles. Serena next plays Virginia Ruano-Pascual, while Venus faces Chanda Rubin or Tara Snyder.

The sisters have met twice before in tournament play, at this year's Australian Open and Italian Open. Venus won both times.

But it's Serena who seems to be adapting best to the grass.

"When I first was hitting on it, the first week or so, I didn't like it and had to keep telling myself that it's not that bad," she said. "Now I really love it. I love it a lot."

Venus is less enamored with the surface. Despite her height and power, she has been hesitant to come to net.

"You can't expect a person to throw away their old coat, especially when it's their favorite," she said.

But the 6-foot-1 1/2 Venus has another weapon _ the biggest serve in women's tennis.

In the third game of the second set against Schett, she unleashed a serve timed at 125 mph, breaking the previous record of 123 mph set by Brenda Schultz-McCarthy at Wimbledon last year.

Venus only learned of the achievement after her match from Serena, who was told about it by reporters.

"I wasn't going for any big ones," she said. "I barely hit any. I think maybe at the most eight. So that was a real surprise."

The Williams sisters are off today, while Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport are among the women scheduled to play third-round matches.

On the men's side, defending champion Pete Sampras faced a potentially trick third-round match today against Sweden's Thomas Enqvist.

The men's field has been decimated, with half of the 16 seeds eliminated in the first two rounds.

The latest to go were Andre Agassi, the 1992 champion and No. 13 seed, and French Open champion Carlos Moya, No. 5.

Previous casualties were No. 2 Marcelo Rios, No. 4 Greg Rusedski, No. 7 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, No. 8 Cedric Pioline, No. 10 Alex Corretja and No. 15 Karol Kucera.

Agassi lost to 20-year-old German Tommy Haas 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. It was Agassi's second straight early Grand Slam exit, following his first-round loss at the French Open.

Agassi, who dropped out of the top 100 last year, had surged back up the rankings this year. His latest slump suggests he may never get back to being the player he once was, but Agassi insisted he still has the desire.

"It even took Michael Jordan a year before he got to where he was playing his best again," he said. "So I have to at least give myself a year just to see my best, whatever that may be. ...

"Ultimately, you've got to be motivated for it, and I am. I'm certainly

not out there for my health."

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