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A Grand-Slam Experience for Two Local Teen Aces

The Means family of Washington with Cora Masters Barry. From left, Joe Means, Elizabeth Means,  Barry, Rachel Means, Sarah Means, Roslyn Means and Olivia Means.
The Means family of Washington with Cora Masters Barry. From left, Joe Means, Elizabeth Means, Barry, Rachel Means, Sarah Means, Roslyn Means and Olivia Means. (Courtesy of Cora Masters Barry)
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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jet lag's not a problem when you're flying on pure adrenaline. Teenage tennis champs Elizabeth and Sarah Means will land at London's Heathrow Airport this morning and head directly to Wimbledon for their first look at the famed grass-court tournament. The two sisters aren't ready to compete on Centre Court -- but have front-row seats to watch their heroine, defending champ Venus Williams, play her first match.

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"I can hardly talk, we're so excited," mom Roslyn told us as they headed for the airport yesterday.

All four Means sisters -- Rachel, 18, Olivia, 17, Sarah, 14, and Elizabeth, 13 -- have been playing tennis for years, but it's the two youngest who have caught the public eye and been dubbed the next Venus and Serena Williams. The girls honed their skills at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in Ward 8, where they came under the wing of founder Cora Masters Barry. "They're some of the best kids -- solid, wonderful kids," says Barry, who introduced them to the Williams sisters and other tennis greats.

It was former mayor Tony Williams who gave them the trip to England. Williams and his wife, Diane, were with Barry when she was inducted into the Mid-Atlantic Tennis & Education Foundation Hall of Fame in February, and during the live auction, they bid on, and won, a $5,000 trip to Wimbledon. Williams donated the trip so Elizabeth Means, his doubles partner at charity events for three years, could experience the thrill of being at the tournament in person. The gift, Williams said yesterday, is "a tribute to what dedication, character, discipline and teamwork can do." Since the auction package was for two people, he also donated additional funds so all the Meanses (including dad Joe) could make the five-day trip.

The itinerary includes tickets for a third-round tournament match, a London city tour and games at a local tennis club. When Venus Williams heard the family was coming, she arranged for courtside seats at today's match against 197th-ranked Naomi Cavaday. "Awesome," Roslyn said. "We feel blessed."

LOVE, ETC.

Expecting: Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and his wife, Michelle. "Baby Fenty," the D.C. mayor's office announced yesterday, is due in late fall and will join the family's 8-year-old twin boys, Andrew and Matthew. Michelle Fenty "says she is feeling great and is looking forward to meeting the newest addition to the family," according to a statement from the proud papa's office.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

· Luke Russert rockin' out at the Pearl Jam show Sunday, just off to the right side of the stage behind the soundboard folks. Tim's son, who was seen during the first half of the show in a section of mostly comped-ticket seats at Verizon Center (pale green button-down with rolled sleeves, jeans, yellow wristband), later got to move up to the stage with a blond female friend in a black dress, both happily singing along.

· Chris Noth in the security line at Dulles Saturday afternoon, looking handsome and impatient in a short-sleeved blue plaid shirt, close-cropped hair. Mr. Big of "Sex and the City" fame had been in Baltimore filming "My One and Only" with Ren é e Zellweger.

UPDATE

For those who lost track of The Amy Winehouse Problem after all the hospital trips for "exhaustion," the crack-smoking videos, the arrests, the visa problems -- time to tune back in. The British train-wreck chanteuse has early-stage emphysema, says her dad. "Her lungs are all gunked up," Mitch Winehouse told the Sunday Mirror in London. "The doctors have told her if she goes back to smoking drugs, it won't just ruin her voice, it will kill her." (A publicist later said the singer "has early signs of what could lead to emphysema.") The 24-year-old Grammy winner has been hospitalized since collapsing a week ago. The good news, her dad later told BBC Radio: "She's smothered in nicotine patches. She's responding brilliantly to treatment. She's actually flourishing."


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