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Serena salutes beaten Venus in Wimbledon triumph

Serena Williams' 13th encounter with her elder sister Venus proved to be the most painful one of all as she landed her second straight Wimbledon singles title - and the fourth in a row for the family.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2003 11:59 IST

Serena Williams' 13th encounter with her elder sister Venus proved to be the most painful one of all as she landed her second straight Wimbledon singles title - and the fourth in a row for the family.

The 21-year-old's 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win in a 2hr 03min centre court tussle was paradoxically made all the harder by the fact that Venus, the 2000 and 2001 champion, was labouring under abdominal and hip injuries which became hard to bear by the final set.

The celebrations were therefore muted compared with last year, when "little" sister swatted "big" sister to deprive her of a Wimbledon hattrick in what on that occasion had been only the second final between siblings in the history of the event stretching back to Maud Watson's 1884 win over Lilian.

Serena said Venus would have landed the trophy against any other rival.

"She played really well in the first set - she had me on the defensive. Venus played really well, she ran down every ball," said Serena, who landed 535,000 pounds (896,000 dollars) for her win, with a further additional 40,000 pounds added on by a women's sports equipment firm to make up the shortfall on the men's prizemoney.

Serena denied letting Venus off the hook in the opening set.

"I don't have problems playing someone who's injured. I just keep playing.

"I was just telling myself, if anything, 'this is Wimbledon. God knows if I would get this opportunity again.

"She never told me anything, she didn't talk to me about the injury at all."

Serena, whose win was watched courtside by the Williams clan with the exception of father Richard, said she was happy to have made up for allowing the French Open crown to slip from her head when she lost in the semi-final a month ago to Justin Henin-Hardenne, who went on to take the title.

"I'm definitely satisfied - but I should have won the French," she insisted afterwards

Having surpassed former world number one Martina Hingis's haul of five Grand Slam titles - she has now won the US Open and Wimbledon twice each and the Australian Open and the French Open once - Serena said she could not rest on her laurels.

"I'm gonna go home, keep working hard because there's no time to rest," she said firmly, insisting if not Venus would otherwise only pass her.

"Today could have swung either way. She had a couple of chances to break in the second (set)," she noted, saluting her opponent's "class, spirit and fighting qualities" in lasting the distance when so far below full fitness.

"People are catching up with my ranking - that keeps me very hungry," said the champion, who wants to leave her mark in tennis history.

"I hope there's several Slams left in me," she said when asked how many more she might net.

She joked that one reason for targeting more titles is the financial price which comes with being a champion in the United States.

Asked what she would spend her prizemoney on she grimaced and lamented: "I'll probably be writing a cheque to the International Revenue Service!"

Venus meanwhile hit back at her critics, who blasted her for pulling out injured at the last minute before a meeting with Serena at Indian Wells in 2001 - a no show which brought howls of protest from fans and broadcasters alike.

"There's always the 'what if' in the back of your head. It hasn't been easy. We've been blamed for a lot of things which never even happened," she said in a clear reference to the Indian Wells incident.

"It's tough enough to go into a Wimbledon final - but I wasn't sure how far I could go."

But she admitted that on another day she might have cried off.

"If it hadn't been the Wimbledon final the chances of me playing would have gone down,"she admitted.

Of the criticism she has had to live with she said simply: "That's the way it is at the top."

First Published: Jul 06, 2003 11:59 IST