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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Serena seizes crown from Venus

Photo Titled Serena Williams
Serena shows her trophy to the crowd.

This time the Williams family battle, so often conducted on the lawns of the All England Club, went the way of Serena as she removed the ladies' singles championship from the custody of her older sister Venus. In straight sets, too, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 in 87 minutes.

Serena had been saying from the start of these Championships that it was her turn to win Wimbledon. And since the Williamses have turned this event into a private affair, the only one she really needed to defeat was Venus.

The job was accomplished in typical powerful style, with Venus so worn down that her own game collapsed spectacularly from 2-2 in the second set. This was Serena’s third Wimbledon title and 11th Grand Slam and was ample amends for her loss to her big sister 12 months ago. It was well deserved as Venus admitted, saying: "Serena had the answer for everything and played the best tennis today, so congratulations."

Serena expressed disbelief that she was finally holding once more the trophy, the Venus Rosewater Dish, which might have been named for her sister, who has won it five times, and paid full tribute: "Venus is the greatest on this surface." At which they both went off for a rest before playing the doubles final.

Today, the Fourth of July, America's Independence Day, Venus was far from the best. Her progress to the final had been more impressive, contained fewer games and less stress, but there was not enough in the tank today once the match hit its stride.

With four great Wimbledon champions, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Maria Bueno and Virginia Wade, watching from the Royal Box, this contest between the current oligarchs of the women's game was conducted for much of the first set at a comparatively sedate pace and in front of a muted audience as both finalists held serve comfortably, with the occasional explosion coming from a Serena ace.

Not until the eighth game did the excitement build, when Serena went two break points down. Here was the opportunity for Venus to impose her authority. But the first break point escaped her when she got a bad bounce and the second got away, too, when, faced with a gaping court, she overhit her forehand. Having been reprieved, Serena pressed the power switch and came up with successive aces. She was off the hook and was never subsequently in the slightest danger.

A tiebreak to decide the first set was an inevitability, with an indication of the tension coming as both women issued their first challenge on the Hawk-Eye line-calling system. By then Serena was already ahead in the tiebreak by three points to one and tried to make it 4-1 by claiming a Venus shot had been out. No, said the system, it was on the line.

By the time Venus got in her own challenge, which was upheld, she was set point down and although Hawk-Eye delayed the inevitable, it was for only one more point as Serena left sister stranded with a perfect backhand lob after 52 minutes.

The second set proceeded uneventfully to 3-2 in Serena's favour before Venus and her first service action parted company. One of her second serves trundled over the net at 66mph, which is food and drink to Serena. Venus then double faulted on break point to give her a 4-2 lead, and the destination of the title was set as Serena moved to a 5-2 lead with a love game.

The final Venus service game was another catalogue of errors as she faced, and fought off, three match points before capitulating on the fourth with a backhand into the netting.

Centre Court - Ladies' Singles - Finals
Venus Williams USA (3)632
Serena Williams USA (2)Winner776

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