Serena wins title, Venus hearts
There was trauma but no tears as Venus Williams battled pain for 2hrs and 3mins against her younger sister Serena. In the end, though Serena won 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.india Updated: Jul 06, 2003 01:39 IST
There was trauma but no tears as Venus Williams battled pain for two hours and three minutes against her younger sister Serena Williams. In the end, though Serena won 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to remain the ladies singles champion at Wimbledon it was the elder sister who got a bigger round of applause.
The packed Centre Court accommodated 15,800 spectators on Saturday. They did not get to see the best quality tennis as Venus was hampered by an abdominal muscle injury and a strained left hip. At one stage, just after being broken in the first game of the final set when the WTA trainer was called, it looked Venus would not even continue. The former champion took injury time out, returned to court and played the best she could as she fought and lost.
You win some and you lose some, goes the saying. But for all those who still doubt the genuineness of an all-Williams final, they had to see this match. "I was in pain but I thought the fans deserved a final," said Venus later, who held back the tears so well.
For someone who lost her fifth Grand Slam final to Serena in the last 14 months, there was agony. But Venus conceals her emotions just a bit too much these days. The way Venus came off the blocks on Saturday, Serena may well have thought, 'Hey, is this my injured sister playing'?
Three games were gone through in a jiffy and Venus was leading 3-0. Mind you, during this phase Serena lost 10 points in a row. But the champion woke up quickly. Having beaten Venus four times in a row till the Australian Open final, there was still a lot of doubt and uncertainty which crept into Serena's mind as she played her sister.
Serena broke to make it 2-3 and continued shakily till Venus got the decisive break in the 10th game. The way Venus won the set was strange as Serena attempted a drop volley and it landed wide. Those are shots she normally doesn't need to use against other opponents.
The second set was topsy turvy. Serena, who will stay World No.1 when the WTA rankings come out on Monday, could never produce the form that she exhibited in earlier matches where she looked so intimidating. Five breaks of serve in 10 games, it was hard to predict which way the match was going.
Yet, it was the fitness factor, or the lack of it, which saw Venus in trouble in the second set. There were stages when the tall Californian ran a long distance to pick those forehands and smash her bread and butter backhands down the line.
But the bigger question was whether she could serve. Having served at over 110 miles plus at start, her painful stomach muscle started bothering her all over again. Maybe, the effects of the painkiller had worn off, and by the time she was serving in the third set's first game, the speed of the serve had dropped to the low nineties.
It would have been easier for Venus to concede, since playing matches like these does no good in the recovery process. But this was the final of The Championship and dubious history would have been created if she were to walk off. Venus decided to grin and bear it, serving and trying to stay in the match just by virtue of her powerful shoulders.
Venus did win two games in the decider, preventing a wash, but it was asking for too much if she were to break her sister's serve. And when Venus hit a forehand long on Serena's serve, it was all over.
Serena wasn't overjoyed on Saturday, even though she once again held the Venus Rosewater Plate, the symbol of supremacy at The Championships and took the winner's cheque of Pounds Sterling 5,35,000.
"I knew Venus was in pain and I just tried to tell myself focus on the ball," said Serena, when asked what was going through her mind when she lost the first three games of the match in a jiffy. "Venus is an inspiration for me," added Serena.
What did she think about winning it again? "The first time was more exciting." Yes, excitement was missing on Saturday.
First Published: Jul 05, 2003 17:28 IST