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Venus outguns Serena in Centre Court thriller

Venus Williams survived a fierce onslaught from Serena Williams to win her fifth Wimbledon singles title, finally subduing her younger sister 7-5 6-4.
AFP | By Angus MacKinnon, London
UPDATED ON JUL 06, 2008 02:19 AM IST

Venus Williams outhit younger sister Serena to claim her fifth Wimbledon crown in exhilarating fashion in London on Saturday.

The defending champion recovered from a whirlwind start by her younger sister to land her seventh Grand Slam title courtesy of a 7-5, 6-4 win.

Venus paid tribute to the performance of Serena, who had looked as if she might blast her big sister off court in the opening games.

"I can't believe it is five because when you are in the final against Serena Williams five seems so far away," said the champion.

"It's unbelievable especially with some of the injuries I have gone through. I love this place."

The quality of the meeting dispelled any suggestion that the two siblings were incapable or unwilling to produce their best tennis against each other.

But Venus admitted she never found it easy to take on Serena, who comfortably won their previous Wimbledon finals, in 2002 and 2003.

"My first job is a big sister and I take that very seriously," she said. "It is hard for all of my family, although I like to think they want me to win."

Serena, who had won five of her previous six Grand Slam finals against her sister, admitted things had not gone as she expected.

"She was a little better today, but it didn't work out as planned," she said.

"But I'm so happy that at least one of us could win. We were glad to be in the final."

The lacklustre nature of some of the sisters' previous meetings had led some to voice fears that this would be another contest lacking in the intensity both women bring to bear on other rivals.

On that score, the opening point of the match was encouraging, Serena ruthlessly taking advantage of a short second serve with a searing forehand down the line.

Any lingering doubts that this would be as ferociously contested as any final of recent years were then completely banished by an exchange in the third game of the match.

Having followed up her break in the opening game with a service game to love, Serena was looking to take a stranglehold on the match.

So when the opportunity arose to punish an under-hit volley, she duly accepted, lashing the ball straight at her elder sister's midriff. It must have been pure survival instincts that enabled Venus to get her racquet on to the ball but somehow she squeezed it back over the net to win the point.

The defending champion managed to hold her serve but the momentum remained with Serena, who was denied a 4-1 lead when a forehand from her sister caught the top of the net and dropped almost dead on the second break point of the fifth game.

Venus was clinging on and her perseverance paid off when Serena's level finally dipped sufficiently for her to level things with a break for 4-4.

She then got her nose in front thanks to a sporting gesure from her sister. With Serena having exclaimed 'no' as she mishit a backhand, both sisters were surprised to see the ball drop in. The umpire ordered the point replayed but Serena conceded it and the game.

A tentative edge had appeared in Serena's game by this stage and, serving at 5-6, she gifted her sister the first set with a tamely netted backhand.

The first game of the second set saw Venus fired down a serve at 129 mph -- a Wimbledon record.

Yet it appeared Serena might have regained the initiative when she converted her seventh break point in a 14-minute third game of the second set.

But Venus hit back immediately to level.

The games then went with serve until, with Serena serving at 4-5, Venus ran down a drop shot and sent a backhand down the line to claim two match points.

Serena produced an ace to save the first one but a long rally on the second ended with her pushing a backhand inches wide to hand her sister the title.

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