"I think it's a bit of a cop-out to say, 'I can't get involved in politics because I'm a cricketer' — what about businessmen, what about a bricklayer? That argument is flawed. Only in an ideal world do sport and politics not mix."

"It was proved that the vitamins (I took) were contaminated.I didn't do it on purpose, but nobody believes me.I don't feel guilty, but the general state of mind of people is to be suspicious.When they see you're playing well, they think you must be drugged or something, which is not true. They don't take into account all the hard work you've been doing to reach that level." Rising Argentine tennis player Guillermo Coria, who finds it hard to live the past down after serving a sevenmonth ban after testing positive for nandrolone in 2001. -- Pic. CLIVE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES-

Rising Argentine tennis player Guillermo Coria, who finds it hard to live the past down after serving a sevenmonth ban after testing positive for nandrolone in 2001.

— Andy Flower, who protested against the "death of democracy" in Zimbabwe, and issued a scathing attack on the irresponsibility of cricket administrators who left difficult decisions to sportsmen such as England captain Nasser Hussain.

"I just happened to watch the movie about three times and I was really impressed by the bravery of Maximus and how he, as slave, effectively defied an emperor. There's a line that says `Today I saw a slave become more powerful than an emperor.' That's when Maximus becomes so popular that he wields more power than the emperor. That really touched me."

— Cricketer Henry Olonga, whose brave protest of Zimbabwe's brutal dictator Robert Mugabe was inspired by Russell Crowe's character, Maximus, in Gladiator.

"It's inspirational to fans and I actually think it helps the tournament. Tennis needs a lot of help. Clap your hands, tap your feet, blow your horns. Tennis needs something other than 'Shhhhhhhhh!'"

— Richard Williams, saying he will resume flashing his provocative homemade signs exhorting daughters Serena and Venus at their tennis matches.

"Most people have to go to the office, or work in the fields, on a farm, in a factory. That's a job. I'm free, playing in the sun, and if there's a rain delay I get the day off. Where's the problem?"

— Tennis champion Venus Williams, who serenely doesn't regard the sport as a career, or even a job.

"He could be as dominant as Michael Jordan was or Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods, you name it. Unfortunately, he has the talent but not the desire to be the world number one."

— Shamil Tarpishchev, Russian Davis Cup captain, on underachieving Marat Safin.

"I don't understand how you can force someone to use a collar that causes pain. It would be like carrying out an interview with a microphone that doesn't work."

Retired tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez, who was revealed in documents, released by former USOC drug czar Wade Exum, to have tested positive for drugs in 1992. Fernandez, writing in Sports Illustrated, explained she had a cold and took Sudafed, which in 1992 wasn't banned by tennis's governing bodies.


— Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, a Ferrari driver, criticising Formula One's governing body for insisting that drivers wear the HANS head and neck safety device.

"I think Serena has a great chance to do it. It's not easy to win every time, but other sports have had unbelievable records, so why not tennis?"

— Venus Williams, Serena's prime rival, saying she wouldn't put it past her sister, then 17-0, to go undefeated this year, before Serena lost to Justine Henin-Hardenne at The Family Circle Cup.

"My whole game was like 9,000 notches down. I didn't serve well, I didn't return well, I didn't hit well. You know, it's just one of those days."

— Serena Williams, on why she lost 6-3, 6-4 to Justine Henin-Hardenne in The Family Circle Cup final to end her 21-match unbeaten streak in 2003.

"They've thrown us out of the game. And we should be thrown out of the game. There's no reason someone 63 years old should be playing with these kids."

— Golf legend Jack Nicklaus, who, after shooting rounds of 85 and 77 at the Masters, acknowledged that "I should have dropped out rather than clutter up the field."

"I have three goals in my career. I want to win Roland Garros (French Open), I want to win the U.S. Open, and I want to shut up the critics who say I can't win the big tournaments."

— Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2002 French Open finalist, after retaining his Monte Carlo Masters title by easily beating Argentina's Guillermo Coria, 6-2, 6-2.

"Serena's got great body strength, she has a strong mind. There's no weakness, really. She's got everything. Forehand, backhand, serve. She's very fluid."

— Tennis legend and Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King, on reigning queen Serena Williams.

"To be a great performer, a great athlete, you've got to really enjoy the limelight, like (Michael) Jordan, or any of us, and that's one of her biggest plusses."

— Billie Jean King, on Serena Williams.

"It is hard to see a non-African winning a title in the foreseeable future."

— Zara Hyde Peters, the Great Britain endurance director, after African athletes won every team and individual medal available bar two at the 31st IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne-La Broye, Switzerland.

"Ever been in a hurricane? Well, just get behind me on the track."

— How Tim Montgomery, the world's current fastest man, talks smack to his foes when he gets into his crouch.

"It's uglier for a woman to talk trash than a man. I hate to have a double standard, but it's true."

— Charmaine Hooper, a forward for the WUSA's Atlanta Best and Team Canada.