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A power play

Serena Williams shows why she's No. 1 in the first final face-off with sister Venus that doesn't fall short.

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 7, 2002

WIMBLEDON, England -- Serena Williams captured her second straight Grand Slam event by beating two-time defending champion Venus Williams 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 Saturday in their first major final that lived up to its billing.

"It was really fun," Serena said. "It was a good match to watch."

Serena didn't drop a set on her way to her first Wimbledon championship, has won a season-best 19 straight matches and is 36-3 with a WTA Tour-leading five titles this year.

Plus, she's beaten her older sister three straight times to pull within 5-4 in their pro careers. At 20, Serena is 15 months younger.

"She was just tremendous today," said Venus, who dropped to second in the rankings. "There wasn't a lot between us. Just on some of those points, she was getting some that I couldn't get."

In the first set each sister was at the top of her game. They traded powerful strokes and dueling grunts from the baseline, aiming for the lines and hitting them.

A sketch of one of the points would look like a Batman strip:

Crack! Serena delivers a serve at 100 mph.

Boom! Venus whacks a backhand return to the corner.

Pow! Serena laces a cross-court forehand.

And so on.

It came down to two key statistics: Serena had more winners (20-14) and Venus had more double faults (6-2).

The last came on break point in the eighth game of the second set, on a serve that fluttered over the net at 67 mph and landed 6 inches wide. Quite out of character for four-time major-champion Venus, who regularly tops 100 mph but had a sore right shoulder. She stretched it during the last changeover and after the match.

"I noticed it. Definitely," said Serena, who won the family's first major title at the 1999 U.S. Open. "If I'm a competitor I'm going to have to notice it. Unfortunately it's like a war out there. If there's a weakness, someone's going to have to be attacked."

Two hours after the sisters' final, they returned to Centre Court and reached the doubles final by beating Anna Kournikova and Chanda Rubin 6-7 (3-7), 6-0, 6-3.

"We have to hold on and win the doubles," Venus said, "because obviously it's all I have left now."

The Williamses face French Open champions Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez in today's final. The sisters won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2000.

The singles final was the first between siblings at Wimbledon since the first in 1884, when Maud and Lillian Watson squared off.

Battling for Grand Slam titles is nothing new to Venus and Serena.

They met in the U.S. Open final in September (Venus won despite seven winners) and in the French Open final last month (combining for 101 unforced errors in Serena's win).

And just as in those encounters they seemed to try to block out the idea of facing a sister. After all, it's not often in pro sports that a championship is decided between people who live and practice together.

Serena strode out first on Centre Court with Venus two steps behind. They didn't look at each other while at the net for the coin toss. Venus' changeover chair faced a baseline, her back to Serena's chair.

Both were demonstrative after the pivotal point of the match, with Serena ahead 4-3 in the tiebreaker. A shot by Serena slapped the net tape and went over, and Venus got to the ball and responded with a drop shot Serena whipped for a backhand passing winner down the line. Serena pumped her fist, and Venus raked the grass with her racket.

Serena ended the set three points later with a 100 mph ace.

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