Venus clinches fourth Wimbledon crown
Venus Williams beat France's Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-1 to win the Wimbledon women's singles title for a fourth time on Saturday.
The American, who was only the 23rd seed, added to her 2000, 2001 and 2005 titles with another turbo-charged display of tennis against an opponent who had created one of the biggest surprises in the tournament's history by beating world number one Justine Henin in the semifinal.
Bartoli, who had never previously gone beyond the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament, had come back from a set down in the wins over Jelena Jankovic, Michaella Krajicek and Henin which had carried her to the most unexpected of final appearances.
But there was to be no repeat of those heroics against Williams, who reproduced the kind of form she had displayed in demolishing two Grand Slam winners, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, in her quarterfinal and semifinal matches.
The American picked up where she had left off in those matches with an immaculate start to the final.
After holding her own serve to love, she capitalised on a nervous opening service game by Bartoli to claim a break and soon had moved smoothly into a 3-0 lead.
But the one-sided contest many in the Centre Court must have feared at that stage did not materialise.
The nervousness that had afflicted Bartoli in the opening games dissipated and she rallied to level things up at 3-3 with the help of an overcooked Williams forehand which handed her a fifth game break of serve.
From then there was little in it until Bartoli double faulted at 4-5 and 15-30 to hand her opponent two set points.
She managed to save the first one but there was nothing she could do on the next one when Williams rifled a forehand down the line, followed it in and clinched the set with a swinging backhand volley from mid-court.
Williams pressed home her advantage with a break in an exhilarating second game of the second set, claiming it at the third attempt with a fine backhand down the line after Bartoli had saved an earlier break point by coming out on top at the end of a 21-stroke rally.
With the match slipping away from her at 0-3 down in the second, Bartoli opted for a medical break to have a foot re-strapped.
That prompted Williams to seek treatment on her left thigh and the result was an interruption of play that lasted 11 minutes.
If Bartoli's goal had been to upset her opponent's rhythm, she appeared to have succeeded as the French player won the first game after the restart to love.
But normal service was resumed on Williams's next service game and, at 1-4 down, Bartoli's resistance evaporated. Another break gave Williams the chance to serve for the match.
A stinging cross court backhand clipped the outside of the line and gave her two match points. Bartoli saved the first but there was nothing she could do about the unstoppable serve that Williams hammered down on the second to end the contest after one hour and 30 minutes.