Serena Williams withdrew from the Family Circle Cup yesterday, the biggest sports name to back the NAACP's boycott of South Carolina for flying the Confederate flag.

Williams, the sixth-ranked player in the world, was the first to commit in January to the annual clay-court tournament in Hilton Head Island. But she rethought the decision last month when told of the flag controversy.

"My decision to not play in South Carolina was based on a much deeper issue and one that I feel strongly about," said Williams, the 18-year-old star who last September became the first black woman in more than 40 years to win a Grand Slam title when she won the U.S. Open.

The Family Circle Cup starts Monday.

The NAACP is leading an economic boycott of South Carolina until the flag is removed from the statehouse. Since the boycott's Jan. 1 start, sporting events have been more involved.

"We're delighted that Williams has indicated her solidarity," said Dwight James, executive director of the state NAACP.

Basketball

Wootten, Phelan Nominated

Coaches Morgan Wootten of DeMatha High School and Jim Phelan of Mount St. Mary's were nominated to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Isiah Thomas and James Worthy, two masters of the fast break, highlighted the player nominations, joining Bobby Jones, Bob McAdoo and Sidney Moncrief.

Lute Olsen of Arizona joined Wootten and Phelan in the coaching category. Kentucky Athletic Director C.M. Newton and the late Junius Kellogg, a wheelchair basketball pioneer, were nominated as contributors.

To be elected, a nominee needs 18 votes from the 24-member Honors Committee. The inductees are to be announced next month, with the enshrinement ceremonies scheduled for October.

Soccer

Ronaldo Hurt Again

Ronaldo, making his return following a five-month layoff, hurt his right knee again and was carried off the field during Inter Milan's 2-1 loss at Lazio of Rome in the first leg of the Italian Cup finals.

Just seven minutes after entering, the Brazilian forward fell to the ground and shouted in pain when his knee apparently twisted as he tried to dribble past an opponent. He was taken off on a stretcher, in tears. A diagnosis was not immediately available.

Ronaldo, the FIFA world player of the year in 1996 and 1997, entered as a substitute in the 59th minute, his first game action since he tore a right knee ligament Nov. 21 against Lecce. He had surgery nine days later. . . .

W.T. Woodson High senior Abe Thompson and Arundel resident Kyle Beckerman scored in the U.S. under-20 national team's 3-1 road victory over Argentine club Independiente's reserves. D.C. United's Bobby Convey, 16, played in the second half.

Colleges

Temple Hires Staley

Former University of Virginia star Dawn Staley, who will play in the WNBA and on the U.S. Olympic team this summer, was named Temple's women's basketball coach. Staley, 29, a native of Philadelphia, is recovering from knee surgery. . . .

Former Indiana and Arizona guard Luke Recker, who was injured in a car accident last July, can officially start his Iowa career in October instead of waiting until the second semester of the 2000-01 season. Iowa officials said they received oral confirmation from the NCAA that Recker's request to play for the Hawkeyes at the beginning of the season has been approved. . . .

Temple junior forward Mark Karcher (15.8 ppg) said he'll forgo his final year to enter the NBA draft.

Courts

Lewis Case Update

Police investigating the double murder in which Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been charged have been unable to lift fingerprints from a knife found at the scene, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Lewis and two associates, Reginald Oakley of Baltimore and Joseph Sweeting of Miami, have been charged with murder in the Jan. 31 stabbing deaths of Richard Lollar, 24, and Jacinth Baker, 21.

Citing two unidentified sources familiar with the investigation, the Sun said technicians have not been able to lift usable fingerprints from the knife because of the handle's texture.

Locally

Benefit Tournament Set

The fourth annual KICKS Against Breast Cancer benefit soccer tournament, featuring women's teams from Maryland, Navy, George Mason, Virginia and several others, will be held Saturday and Sunday at Ludwig Field in College Park. Proceeds benefit the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource and Image Center at Howard County General Hospital. For the schedule and more information, see www.kicksagainstbreastcanc.com.