Paul Fein

"I lost the match. She didn't do very much. I don't think she's ever played worse against me — we've played, like, 15 times — and I've never played so badly against her." — Jelena Dokic, the 2001 Italian Open champion, after her 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 first-round loss to 31-year-old Conchita Martinez in Rome. — Pic. AP-

"I lost the match. She didn't do very much. I don't think she's ever played worse against me — we've played, like, 15 times — and I've never played so badly against her."

— Jelena Dokic, the 2001 Italian Open champion, after her 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 first-round loss to 31-year-old Conchita Martinez in Rome.

"I am a super champion, and I am super crazy."

— Ricardo Mayorga, a 6-1 underdog who knocked out Vernon Forrest in three rounds in January to unify the welterweight titles, predicts an even shorter fight in their July 12 rematch.

"He is the purest sports celebrity in the history of the world. Tigers Woods? Michael Jordan? They redefined their sport, and they are respected. But Beckham has transcended that. He is worshipped. His fan base goes far beyond sports; many of them don't even care about football."

— Ellis Cashmore, professor of culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University (UK) and the author of Beckham, a sociological study of the athlete's elevation to iconic status.

"I'm going to make Cleveland the way it was before Michael Jordan killed us all the time."

— Hometown hero LeBron James, an 18-year-old high school phenom, after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA lottery and the right to draw him.

"So women's tennis is getting boring. And you know why? Because two lovely black women dominate it."

— Richard Williams, father-coach of Venus and Serena, claiming tennis is not pleased about their domination.

"There has never been an African-American family that achieved like the Kennedys, so I think that's a valid goal."

— Oracene Price, the mother of Venus and Serena Williams, wants her family to create a legacy like the Kennedys.

"I love the way the guys play. They hit farther. They're stronger. I want to learn from that."

— Annika Sorenstam, the world's top female golfer, before competing against the best men on the PGA Tour at the Colonial.

"I have never worried about what people or the press have said about my game because I fundamentally don't respect their opinion. So why start worrying about it now? If you were acoach of any sport spersonor team taking criticism and were asked `Should we be affected by what the press say?', the answer would be `Absolutely not.'"

— Tim Henman, on detractors who claim he's washed up following his recent shoulder surgery, in The Evening Standard (UK).

"All you journalists ever ask about is what kind of underwear Lleyton is wearing."

— Leo Clijsters, father-manager of world No. 2 tennis player Kim Clijsters, on why he refuses all one-on-one interview requests for her and her coach.

"We did everything for her until she was 19. Then she chose that idiot (Bernoldi)."

— Damir Dokic, who has severed all ties with his tennis star daughter, Jelena, and blamed the feud on her continuing relationship with 23-year-old former Formula One star Enrique Bernoldi.

"Primo Nebiolo ruled athletics with an almost dictator-like attitude that many saw as unfair and some<147,1,7>times even underhanded. But I, for one, would trade Dr. Nebiolo and his leadership for the lack of leadership that exists right now with the IAAF."

— Track star Michael Johnson, charging the International Association of Athletics Federations with doing "a poor job of promoting the sport for years" in a column in The Telegraph (UK).

"If you ask me which player sums up soccer, I say it's Zidane: He represents elegance, grace, intelligence, and he makes those around him better, finding space and the ball when no one else is capable of doing it. Zidane is everything."

— Victor Fernandez, the Betis Seville coach, lavishing praise on Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane in the Spanish daily El Mundo.

"I am not ready to close the door quite yet on my career. But I know what it takes to be competitive, the training and preparation, the seven-day-a-week dedication and I'm just not there right now."

— Pete Sampras, who hasn't played a tournament since winning the 2002 U.S. Open, after withdrawing from the French Open and Wimbledon.

"I know I don't play as well as my best 20 years ago, but people don't care. I love what I do. I have a passion for tennis and a passion for life."

— Martina Navratlilova, after winning the Italian Open for her third doubles title of the year with 17-year-old Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is 29 years younger than her.

"The Grand Slam prize money should be equal. It's irrelevant that women don't play five sets. The price of a theatre ticket isn't dictated by how long the play is. Wimbledon is so stuck in a rut."

— Virginia Wade, 1977 Wimbledon champion and now a BBC commentator, in The Evening Standard (UK).

"I'm too old to express an opinion on this development."

Nelson Mandela, who met the players of the English and South African soccer teams in Johannesburg, diplomatically replying when asked what he thought of soccer star David Beckham's new braided hairstyle.

"With Serena, it's as if she was made to be the queen. She's just having a ball."

— Billie Jean King, on flamboyant world No. 1 Serena Williams.

"I think that one of the things that's wrong with this country is that we're giving up too much of our history, tradition, our inheritance. Cricket is in the blood of England and has been for an age. So I think it's important the game goes from strength to strength."

— Ian Botham, retired cricket star.