London: Serena Williams can stomach her sister’s name emblazoned on the singles trophy, she even accepted the smaller room in their rented house, but she put her foot down to snatch back the Wimbledon title on Saturday.
Her emphatic 7-6 6-2 victory over 29-year-old Venus to capture an 11th grand slam singles title on Independence Day will not make any classic Wimbledon compilation DVDs, but it was razor-sharp, ruthless and just too hot for her elder sibling.
Venus strode out on a sunlit Centre Court having not dropped a set at the grasscourt grand slam since the third round in 2007 and relinquished 19 games to reach the final this year.
She seemed poised to complete a hat-trick of women’s singles titles last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1993 but in the end she was forced to play second fiddle in the 21st career meeting of the siblings since they took tennis by storm.
Later in the day, as the sun dipped down behind Centre Court’s roof, Serena and Venus teamed up to win their fourth Wimbledon women’s doubles title, defeating Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs of Australia 7-6 6-4.
It was consolation of sorts for Venus, who has now lost six of the eight grand slam singles finals she has played against Serena, three of them at Wimbledon.
She had looked the more composed on Saturday until the first-set tiebreak, which Serena won with a sublime lob, but then seemed powerless as Serena blazed away to raise the Venus Rosewater Dish for a third time.
“I didn’t think about Venus at all today. I just saw her as an opponent,” said second seed Serena, who walked in to meet the world’s media wearing a cheeky T-shirt asking “Are You Looking at My Titles?”
It is unlikely that smooth Swiss Roger Federer will turn up wearing anything quite so brash on Sunday should he beat American Andy Roddick in the men’s singles final and claim a record 15th grand slam title — one more than Pete Sampras.
Serena’s next major title, if and when it comes, would draw her level with fellow American Billie Jean King, who watched from the Royal Box, in sixth place in the list of all-time women’s grand slam singles winners.
“It’s unbelievable,” said the 27-year-old who now holds three of the four slams. “I’m looking at the next goal of someone like Billie Jean King, who is completely my idol. To get to her level and have 12 would be even better.”
Venus lags behind Serena with seven grand slam titles but would have had an awful lot more if her sister had not followed her on to the tennis courts of Compton 20 odd years ago.
“It’s a wonderful achievement,” she said of her sister’s glittering haul. “She’s played so well so many times. You know, a lot of the times actually at my expense.”
The siblings’ previous three clashes in the Wimbledon final, with the possible exception of last year’s tussle, failed to really engage the Centre Court spectators who never seem to quite know who to support.
It was no different this time.
Unlike Serena’s epic against Russia’s Elena Dementieva on Thursday, when she saved a match point before prevailing in the longest women’s semi-final at Wimbledon, there was no ebb and flow, few rallies that really stood out.
The bish-bash-boom nature of the contest was almost entirely without subtlety although the power exchanges between the finalists did have a certain beauty of their own.
“I’m a shover. Some people push, but I shove,” Venus responded to one question about her tactics. “That’s my mentality. I have to just hit, and I can’t help it. It’s just hard to change my mind.”
Serena pounced in the tiebreak, taking a 6-2 lead. Venus saved the first after Hawkeye showed a Serena forehand had landed just out but on the next point she was forced forward by a low netcord and Serena fizzed a topspin lob over her head.
It seemed to crush Venus’s resolve and although she hung on grimly at the end, saving three match points, she failed to clear the net with a backhand on the forth and the title was Serena’s again after a six-year wait.
“I felt like my name should have been there at least once more,” said Serena. “At least I got in another one.”
Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia made sure July the Fourth did not belong totally to Americans, beating twins Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-3 to retain the men’s doubles title.