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Wimbledon lifts Venus to great heights
July 08, 2007 12:22 IST
Summertime arrived apologetically late at Wimbledon on Saturday just as Venus Williams burst once again from the shadows to walk off with the silverware.
As she did two years ago when she came in at number 14, the imposing American made a mockery of a low seeding to prove that, when fit and healthy, not many can tame her on grass courts.
The spirited Marion Bartoli tried her best but ultimately the French 18th seed was ill-equipped to deny the 27-year-old Williams a fourth Wimbledon title, losing 6-4, 6-1.
"I feel fantastic. My sixth slam... I want some more," said Williams, who began the year ranked 48th in the world and missed the Australian Open with a wrist injury.
Her younger sister Serena, who was watching from the stands, won that Australian Open ranked 81st and Venus said her achievement there spurred her for Wimbledon.
"When I saw her win in Australia I knew I could do it. We love each other and inspire each other like that," Venus, whose last Grand Slam title came here two years ago, said.
Bartoli said she had been inspired by former 007 actor Pierce Brosnan [Images] sitting in the Royal Box when she caused one of the great Wimbledon shocks by beating world number one Justine Henin [Images] in the semi-final less than 24 hours earlier.
He missed the final but with serves and groundstrokes exploding off the Williams racket, the Frenchwoman needed all of James Bond's [Images] powers of self preservation while a few of his sneaky gadgets would have come in handy too.
Bartoli did bring her unorthodox grass-cutting double-handers to the battle but was left standing time after time as Venus blasted 22 baseline winners and at least as many unplayable firecrackers.
"Venus played some unbelievable tennis," said Bartoli, who learnt her game on a basketball court. "
"She served 120mph on first serve. Sometimes it was hurting my wrist so bad because the ball was coming so fast.
"Nobody can beat her when she plays like this on grass. It's not possible."
At least she appeared to enjoy her first Grand Slam final. In one lengthy interlude midway through the second set when her opponent was having strapping applied to her left thigh, she joined in with a Mexican wave.
Venus, who broke her own record as the lowest seed (23) to win Wimbledon since computer rankings began in 1975, had only one moment of alarm in a largely predictable contest.
After striding into a 3-0 lead she was pegged back to 3-3 as Bartoli's low, skimming shots began to find the corners and keep Venus lurching along the baseline.
Normal service was resumed with Bartoli serving at 4-5 in the first set, however. Two scorching Williams backhand winners, followed by a Bartoli double fault gave her set points and she pounced in ruthless fashion.
Bartoli's final flourish came in the second game of the second set when she matched her American opponent shot for shot in a sequence of mesmerising rallies.
At deuce Williams leapt athletically to angle away a high backhand volley off an attempted topspin lob and she eventually sealed the decisive break with another backhand bullet.
The players traded injury timeouts at 3-0, Bartoli having her foot taped and Venus having repairs on her thigh.
On the resumption Bartoli held serve but Williams was simply unstoppable.
Serving with two breaks at 5-1 she finished the contest in merciless fashion. One bone crunching first serve, clocked at 125mph, bent back Bartoli's wrist and she clinched victory with another one that nearly cut her opponent in half.
Bartoli's defeat ended French resistance in the Wimbledon singles after Richard Gasquet had earlier been brushed aside 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 by Swiss world number one Roger Federer [Images] who set up a second successive Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal [Images].
Spaniard Nadal was leading 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 in his semi-final when Serbian fourth seed Novak Djokovic retired injured.