Serena makes Wimbledon kid's stuff

Younger Williams sister beats Venus in final, wins 2nd Slam tourney of '02

`I just wanted Wimbledon'

2-time defending champ dethroned, 7-6 (4), 6-3


July 07, 2002|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

WIMBLEDON, England - She's a feisty kid sister and a champ.

She tosses a racket into the dust and a fist into the air.

She's always in a hurry, first on court, first to ace, first to smile.

But yesterday, the kid sister did something truly impetuous, confirming her place as the best player in a sport and a household.

Serena Williams took her older sister Venus' crown at Wimbledon, winning, 7-6 (4), 6-3, in the tournament's first all-sister final since 1884.

It wasn't a great match - but it might have been the true start of a great rivalry.

And it should put an end to speculation that there is something pre-arranged anytime the Williams sisters face each other across a net.

Believe it: This was real, probably the hardest-hitting women's tennis at Wimbledon, outside a Williams sister practice session.

Serena Williams, 20, is the undisputed No. 1 player in the world, only the 10th player to win the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass back-to-back, winning the two finals over Venus.

"In the beginning of the year, I said, `You know, I don't care what happens this year, I want to win Wimbledon,' " Serena Williams said. "And it was an extra bonus for me to win the French. But I just wanted Wimbledon. I wanted to become a member of so much prestige, so much history. I want to be a part of history."

She is now.

And so is Venus Williams, 22, the 2000 and 2001 Wimbledon champion, who must now face the reality that the last time she beat Serena in a Grand Slam tournament final was at last year's U.S. Open. Her coveted No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour has gone to her kid sister.

"It's not fun losing, no matter who you lose to," Venus Williams said. "Doesn't matter. It's not something that I'm going to get used to or try to adjust to because I'm not one for losing often. So naturally, I'm going to go out there and try to win the very next time."

A little sibling rivalry has finally entered the most important rivalry in the women's game.

There's still something perplexing for the sport and for the crowds every time the Williams sisters face each other. As they marched onto Centre Court yesterday, the sisters were met by the kind of applause usually reserved for the start of a symphony, not the start of a major championship match.

Still, it was a historic moment, a moment not lost on the sisters who were raised by their father, Richard, to become tennis champions. It's still hard to fathom how far they have come from the hard courts of Compton, Calif., to the grass courts of Wimbledon.

"When I first walked out there, I was just thinking I wanted to win, but I was thinking also that my dad always said that, one day we'll be playing in the finals of Wimbledon, in the finals of the U.S. Open, just the big ones," Serena Williams said. "And here we were 10, 15 years later."

It was a fitful first set. The sisters know each other's game too well, extend each other for shots like no one else can, Serena Williams slamming ground strokes to the corners, Venus digging them out and sending her sister on her heels.

For a time, it looked like opening set might slip away from Serena Williams. Serving to close it out at 5-4, she was broken when Venus received a 105 mph serve down the middle, and rocked it back with a forehand. Serena Williams tossed her racket onto a Centre Court service line turned to dust by nearly two weeks of play.

But Serena Williams didn't fall apart. She fought her way into the tiebreaker, went up a mini-break at 5-3 when she scooped up a drop shot and slammed a backhand winner by her sister and made a fist. And then she closed out the set with a kick-serve ace, looping a 100 mph curveball.

Serena Williams didn't run the table in the second set so much as Venus' serve deserted her. Venus Williams had an aching shoulder and wouldn't make excuses, but she was taking 10 mph off her serve all day. She smacked a clunker in the eighth game, spinning a double fault into the other service box, losing her serve, falling behind 3-5 and watching her title fall away.

And the kid sister served it out at love, taking deep breaths between points, making herself concentrate by thinking what it would be like 20 years from now, and asking, "Am I going to regret doing this?"

No regrets. She unloaded a last serve, a 103 mph fastball that Venus pushed into the net with a forehand. She received a hug from her sister and later blew kisses to the crowd.

Serena adored the spotlight.

During the awards ceremony, Venus took charge a little bit, telling her sister to curtsy for royalty.

"Older sister is always the wisest," Serena Williams said.

But the kid sister is still the bubbliest.

After it was over, Venus Williams looked a little downcast in a news conference.

"Really, I just think that she just had a better shot," Venus Williams said in a soft voice. "I think I played well, to be honest, and high-percentage tennis."

She said she still felt "in a dominating position" in the women's game.

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