U.S. Open champion Serena Williams wanted a new challenge: playing on the men's tour.

It won't happen.

ATP Tour spokesman Nicola Arzani said Williams will not be allowed to play later this month in the Eurocard Open in Stuttgart, Germany.

"To be able to play an ATP tournament, you have to be a member of the Association of Tennis Professionals," Arzani said. "Serena Williams cannot become a member of the ATP because she is a woman. That answers the question."

Markus Guenthard, director of the Eurocard event, said Williams had asked him for a wild card for the tournament, which begins Oct. 25. . . .

By the draw, the United States will play in Zimbabwe in a potentially tricky first-round Davis Cup World Group match Feb. 4-6. The matches will be played in Harare, capital of the southern African nation. . . .

Andre Agassi saved three match points for a 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 victory over France's Nicolas Escude in the second round of the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament.


Begay Shares Lead

It took Notah Begay five holes to warm up in the whipping wind and 50-degree temperatures that welcomed the PGA Tour to usually sunny and warm Kingsmill in Williamsburg for the first round of the Michelob Championship.

But even playing in the morning, Begay got as warm as anyone with a 4-under-par 67 that gave him a share of the lead. Corey Pavin and Robin Freeman also shot 67. . . .

Amy Benz and Lisa Kiggens each shot 5-under-par 67 to share the first-round lead at the Betsy King Classic in Kutztown, Pa. Benz is winless in 17 years on the LPGA Tour.


U.S. Blanks Finland

Kristine Lilly scored two goals and Mia Hamm had three assists to lead the United States to a 6-0 victory over Finland in the second leg of the U.S. Women's Cup before 36,405 fans in Kansas City, Mo. Both of Lilly's goals came after the half as the defending World Cup champion improved to 2-0 in the three-game tournament. In the early game, Roseli and Raquel scored two goals each to lead Brazil to a 4-0 win over South Korea.


Another Ali Debuts

Laila Ali, the second-youngest of Muhammad Ali's nine children, will make her professional boxing debut at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y., tonight, and she promised to make the sweet science a sour time for her opponent, April Fowler.

"I'm going to knock her out," Laila said. "I'm coming to knock somebody out, not just to win."

The 27-year-old Fowler, who lost her first and only professional bout in March 1998, said Ali is just a name to her.

"She's never been in the ring," Fowler said. "I'm not getting in the ring with her father, I'm getting in the ring with her."

Laila said her mother, Veronica, the third of Muhammad Ali's four wives, would be there, but she wasn't sure whether Ali would.

Auto Racing

Kenseth Blazes to Record

Matt Kenseth kept up the heat in his bid to overtake Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the Busch Grand National title, turning a record lap to win the pole yesterday for the All Pro Bumper To Bumper Auto Parts 300. Kenseth turned a fast lap of 177.328 mph, breaking both the event and track records at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. . . . Randy Hall, the man whose injury during the NAPA Autocare 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway caused the race to be slowed by caution twice so he could be taken to the hospital, is listed in serious condition. Hall, of Spencer, Va., was working with the track cleanup crew when he fell off a truck.


Thompson Hurt

Jennie Thompson reinjured her left ankle in practice and will not compete for the U.S. team at the world championships, a team spokeswoman said. Thompson, 18, was third at the U.S. championships in August. She will be replaced by Morgan White, 16.


Honor for Leonsis

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, president of AOL Interactive Properties Group, will be presented the Silver Medal Award by the Ad Club of Metropolitan Washington. The award, which will be presented at a luncheon Oct. 15 at the Watergate Hotel, recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to advertising and have been active in furthering the industry's standards. . . . Tom Presthus, D.C. United starting goalkeeper and U.S. National Team member, will sign autographs Sunday, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., at eatZi's Market and Bakery at 11503-B Rockville Pike in Rockville.

CAPTION: The Association of Tennis Professionals is rejecting Serena Williams's request to play against the men at the Eurocard Open later this month.