Reigning Wimbledon champ Venus Williams views the Williams Sisters Tour as more of a tune-up for the Australian Open in January than a grudge match against her equally successful sister, Serena. And she admits to needing the practice, since she dropped out of a tournament in Switzerland earlier this year because of leg and ankle pains. "I'm just getting back into the groove," says Venus, 25, who's ranked 10th in the world. "I'll definitely get some match play in against my sister and get ready for Melbourne."
Before the 2006 tennis season starts, the sisters square off against each other on a three-city mini-tour that brings them to Cleveland on Thursday. Says the 24-year-old Serena, who's ranked 11th: "It's our opportunity to interact with people who've never had the chance to see us play live."
It could be our last chance to see them on the same court, since Serena hints that she may retire to become an actress or fashion designer. "I can't play tennis the way a doctor can be a doctor for 50 years. I can only be a tennis player for a decade, 15 years at best. It's smart to have something different in mind." The sibling rivalry comes to Quicken Loans Arena (100 Gateway Plaza) at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets are $20; call 216-420-2200. -- Cris Glaser
Chutes to Thrill
The season's one bright spot is now open.
There isn't much that we like about winter, but one thing that makes those five long months bearable is Cleveland Metroparks' Chalet Toboggan Chutes. Those two refrigerated slabs of ice -- which begin with a vertical drop of 70 feet and extend more than 700 feet -- make us feel like a member of an Olympic bobsled team. The toboggan chutes are open through March 5 at the Chalet Recreation Area (on Valley Parkway, between routes 42 and 82 in Strongsville). Hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 6 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8, $6 for kids (one-time ride tickets are also available for $3). Call 440-572-9990 for more information. -- Michael Gallucci
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