Venus triumphs in sibling showdown


Williams sisters
Venus Williams is congratulated by sister Serena after winning the US Open (© Allsport)

Venus Williams has won U.S. Open title by defeating her sister Serena Williams 6-2 6-4 last night in a historic Grand Slam final.

Defending champion Venus, who made it through the championship without dropping a set, took 69 minutes to beat her younger sister and collect the $850,000 top prize.

Tenth-seeded Serena, the 1999 Open champion, committed 36 unforced errors in an erratic performance on Arthur Ashe Stadium but received $425,000 for her efforts.

The sisters embraced at the net after the match, and Venus said, "I love you," to her defeated sibling.

The championship final was the first ever between African Americans, and the first Grand Slam final between sisters in 117 years, since Maud Watson beat Lilian in the first Wimbledon women's final in 1884.

"There's some good things and some bad things," the fourth-seeded Venus, 21, said during the awards ceremony. "I always want Serena to win, so it's kind of strange because I'm the big sister. I take care of Serena."

Said Serena: "I'm disappointed but not much, because Venus won and I'm still young. I'm only 19 I have a few more years."

With the dynamic Williams sisters contesting the first Grand Slam final to be played under the lights, there was an extraordinary buzz of excitement among a celebrity-studded crowd of 23,023 packed around centre court.

The title tilt between two of the sport's biggest hitters and most charismatic players, however, was not as electrifying as Serena misfired with her groundstrokes off both wings.

"I was fighting the wind, fighting myself because I was making too many errors and fighting Venus," said Serena. Too many fights going on."

The defending champion played a patient game, firing in only seven winners as she played the ball back with depth and pace and waited for younger sister to self-destruct.

Venus broke Serena in the fifth game of the first set with a forehand winner and a backhand drive down the line.

She snapped Serena's serve again in the seventh game when the younger Williams netted a backhand and then double faulted.

Venus ran her streak to seven games in a row by breaking Serena in the opening game of the second set and holding serve before the 10th seed finally held for 1-2.

Serena threatened to make a match of it by breaking her big sister in the next game, which marked the start of a string of three successive breaks that left the sisters tied at 3-3.

Venus scored the decisive break in the ninth game.

The younger Williams double-faulted twice to start the game then Venus drilled a shot right at Serena stationed at the net, which she wasn't able to volley in to make it 0-40. Two points later Venus ripped a backhand winner to take a 5-4 lead.

Venus served out the title match to 15 when Serena netted a backhand as her racket went splattering across the court.

Venus spoke of her feelings for her younger sister during the awards ceremony, moving Serena to poke her to stop the emotions from flowing.

"I love her. It's hard but I love her too much and that's what counts," said Venus.

"It was just so deep. She was so sincere and I'm an emtotional person," the teenager said later.

Serena, who has lost five of six matches played against Venus as a professional, was asked about the sibling rivalry.

"For the younger sisters, we always look up to the big sister and we always want to win because they're always older and ahead of us and always do (win)."

The triumph capped a tremendous stretch for Venus, who for the second successive year pulled off a Wimbledon-U.S. Open double.

Since losing in the first round of the French Open, Venus has gone 24-1, taking titles at Wimbledon, San Diego, New Haven and the U.S. Open - nearly matching her perfect summer of 2000 when she also won the Sydney Olympics gold medal.

Richard Williams, father and coach of the celebrated sisters, had said he could not bear to stay and watch the final. He did give the sisters a pep talk earlier in the day.

"He just told us to go out there and compete and have fun," Serena said. "Just to have fun with it. This is history."

Watching nervously from the players' box was their mother, Oracene Williams, who also serves as coach to the tennis stars.

"Historical, that's my one word answer, said mother Williams when asked about her feelings.

"What they've achieved in a lifetime of work since they were four is amazing. They always dreamed of playing each other in a Grand Slam final and now they've done it."

"I wanted to win more than anything," said Venus, whose Wimbledon-Open double matched the 1957-58 feat of Althea Gibson, the first African American to win a Grand Slam. "Serena wanted to also.

"It was our first Grand Slam final together. That's the way we like it to be. Then both of us win." -Reuters