Saturday, July 07, 2007

Venus Wins Wimbledon In Historic Fashion...

In The Spirit Of Althea Gibson...

Venus Williams Win Wimbledon Title...

July 7, 2007
By Duncan Bech Special to PA SportsTicker

WIMBLEDON, England - Venus Williams claimed her fourth Wimbledon singles title with an efficient 6-4, 6-1 victory over Marion Bartoli on Centre Court.

Williams, competing in her sixth final at the All England Club, overpowered her 22-year-old opponent with a display which was ruthlessly effective at key moments.

The American met with stubborn resistance throughout as Bartoli, who was clearly fatigued from yesterday's epic triumph over No. 1 seed Justine Henin, battled bravely for every point.

Bartoli had produced one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history in toppling Henin but there was to be no fairytale ending to her fifth appearance at SW19 and best run at a Grand Slam event.

"Venus played some unbelievable tennis," Bartoli said. "I mean, she reached some balls like I never see one person reach on a tennis court, and she would even hit it harder back to me. So I really tried my best I think, and I played a great match, but at the end she was just too good.

"I can't say a player can beat her when she plays like this on grass. I mean, it's not possible to beat her. She's just too good, you know."

But she had made history by contesting the lowest-ranked women's final at the All England Club - Williams was seeded 23 and Bartoli 18.

Williams sounded an ominous warning when she blazed through the opening game by winning every point, and then picked apart Bartoli's serve in the second.

The Frenchwoman, ranked 19 in the world, looked nervous and double faulted on break point to hand Williams a 2-0 lead. Williams was glued to the baseline where she could overpower her opponent with a string of accurate, powerful strokes.

With her stamina sapped by yesterday's epic against Henin, Bartoli double faulted once again to concede another break point in the fourth - only for Williams to squander the opportunity with a long forehand.

It was Williams' turn to double fault in the fifth, conceding two break points and hitting the second long to haul her opponent back into the set.

The American's error-count was growing steadily as her earlier authority vanished, largely as a result of the resistance offered by Bartoli.

Bartoli was serving to save the set in the 10th and she wilted in the face of a ferocious onslaught from Williams, who accompanied every shot with a loud cry of intent.

A double fault handed the 27-year-old two set points. The first was saved with a fine passing shot but Williams smashed the second out of reach.

Bartoli came under siege early in the second set and initially dug herself out of trouble with a series of crisp forehands, only to then be broken by a thunderous Williams backhand.

Play was interrupted when the former junior French Open champion required treatment on an array of blisters on her left foot and Williams followed suit, receiving attention to her left leg.

Bartoli was first up on her feet and she grew impatient waiting for Williams, whose thigh was now heavily strapped.

When play finally resumed, Bartoli raced through her serve and caught the eye with a precise lob which left Williams stranded.

But she conceded three break points in the sixth with Williams smashing a vicious backhand to claim the third.

Serving for the match, Williams ended Bartoli's resistance with an unstoppable serve to take the set 6-1 - and the title.

Williams admitted the victory was made all the sweeter by her season-long struggle with a wrist injury that has affected her world ranking.

"I have so many people to thank. My sister Serena inspired me by winning the Australian Open at the start of the year. I wanted to be like her," Venus Williams said. "My mum helped me out in the first round and my family knows what I went through when I was off with the injury.

"It was a long road back with some tough losses to take. But it was great to be here and Marion was a really tough opponent. It's so exciting to win four titles. I always believed I could do it, but to actually do it is something different completely."

Bartoli paid tribute to her father and coach Walter and set her sights on winning next year's Wimbledon title.

"I'm disappointed with the result but I have to thank everyone on Centre Court for the support I've had," Bartoli said. "The world number one on grass is Venus so congratulations to her for the way she played here.

"For me to play in the final on Centre Court was a dream come true and it is possible because of one person only - my dad. Thank you Dad. I'll be happy if I come back here next year and reach the final again - with the trophy in my hands."

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