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Revenge on the top of Venus Williams’ agenda

New York, Aug. 23 (Reuters): There must be a limit to Venus Williams’ tolerance levels.

The twice defending US Open champion was magnanimous in defeat when she lost out to younger sister Serena in both the French Open and Wimbledon finals over the past two months.

But anyone who remembers the 1999 US Open final — when Serena became the first member of the Williams clan to lift a Grand Slam crown — will know that Venus does not take too kindly to being upstaged, especially by a sister two years her junior.

On that warm and muggy September night, Venus, sitting courtside in the floodlit arena, was visibly agitated as Serena beat her to a major. So with Serena running away with most of the spoils on offer this year, the tall and powerful Venus will be determined to get her own back.

Revenge will clearly be top of Venus’ agenda over the next fortnight as not only has the muscular Serena grabbed the number one ranking away from her big sister, she has also won all three of their meetings this year.

“Serena’s crazy about beating me nowadays. Maybe she’ll give me a break and I can take something home for myself,” world number two Venus said after winning her sixth title of the year in San Diego earlier this month.

Since Venus and Serena rewrote the record books at Flushing Meadows in 2001 by becoming the first sisters to contest a Grand Slam final in more than 100 years, they have dominated women’s tennis like no other siblings before them.

Having featured in three of the last four Grand Slam finals, the pair will be chasing even more records in New York.

While 20-year-old Serena attempts to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1996 to win three majors in a row in one calendar year, Venus will be gunning to become the first player in over two decades to win a hat-trick of consecutive US Open titles.

“I have quite a few years to do really well,” said Venus. “I would definitely want to utilise my time. If anything, I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t give it my all. My personal goal is to do my personal best and that’s all I expect of myself. For me, that’s winning every match I play but that’s not possible. Sometimes you have to lose in order to get better.”

With the rest of the top women reduced to playing a supporting role as the headline grabbing “Williams Show” takes centre stage, the likes of Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati, fourth seed Lindsay Davenport and former world number one Martina Hingis will be hoping for some divine intervention at the hardcourt major.

One such intervention came in the form of acute knee tendinitis which forced Serena, who chalked up a phenomenal 21-match winning streak during her successful summer campaign, out of the Canadian Open last week.

But injuries aside, Capriati and company will have to dig deep into their bag of tricks if they are to have any chance of stopping the Williams’ charge to yet another final showdown.

Although Capriati has failed to win a tournament since her Melbourne Park triumph in January, she received a much-needed boost by reaching the Canadian Open final last week.

Despite succumbing to the power of Amelie Mauresmo on this occasion, Capriati, seeded third behind the Williams at the Open, was clearly relieved to play in her first title match since the Miami Masters in March.

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