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Past controversies pressured Venus to play

Injured Venus Williams felt under pressure to play on Saturday against Serena because of allegations made against their family.
PTI | By Reuters, London
PUBLISHED ON JUL 06, 2003 01:18 AM IST

Injured Venus Williams felt under pressure to play in Saturday's Wimbledon final against her sister Serena because of allegations made against their family in the past.

"It's just hard these days (because) Serena and I have taken a lot of slack so I thought I ought take one for the team," said Venus after her 4-6 6-4 6-2 defeat.

"It hasn't been easy. Serena and I have been blamed for a lot of things that never even happened so I thought I had to go out and play there today."

In the 2001 Tennis Master Series event in Indian Wells, Venus pulled out minutes before she was due on court for her eagerly anticipated semi-final showdown with Serena, citing tendinitis in her right knee.

Serena was jeered during the final and the sisters have not participated at the tournament since.

The incident sparked suspicion that Richard Williams did not like his daughters to play each other and was even determining the outcome of their head-to-head meetings beforehand.

Since then the siblings have only met each other at grand slam events, although Serena's five straight wins over her sister in finals has pretty much put paid to the match-fixing theories.

On Saturday Venus's discomfort was evident to everyone on Centre Court.

She came out with her left thigh heavily strapped and still suffering from an abdominal strain that she had been carrying for the last two months.

Just as in her semi-final against Belgium's Kim Clijsters, the 2000 and 2001 champion had to take a three-minute time out to receive treatment.

Despite being hampered in her movement, Venus romped through the first set before Serena came back to level the match.

But after dropping her serve in the first game of the deciding set, Venus decided she needed some medical care.

Limping and massaging her thigh throughout the deciding set, Venus was able to last the distance even though she failed to wrest the trophy away from her sister.

"If it wasn't the Wimbledon final the chances of me playing probably would have gone down," said Venus, who lost her fifth consecutive grand slam final to her sister.

"Today was a good effort and I had to play.

"It's tough enough to go into the Wimbledon final but it's a little tougher as I wasn't sure how far how I could go."

Venus first suffered the injury in the final of the Warsaw Cup and has since failed to shake off the problem.

She was advised against competing in the French Open but chose to turn up. Her campaign, however, did not last long as she was beaten in the fourth round by Russia's Vera Zvonareva.

"The injury first occurred in Warsaw but it was hard to pinpoint and no one knew where it was and why," she said. "On and off, I've had good days and bad.

"It was the one thing I dreaded happening the most at this tournament but knew it could happen because I wasn't 100 percent. But this is life."

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