| Serena and Venus Williams with their trophies after the women’s singles final Saturday. (Reuters)
London, July 5 (Reuters): A subdued Serena Williams retained her Wimbledon title Saturday when she beat her injury-hampered older sister Venus 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Centre Court.
Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi lost 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 3-6 to Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge in the men’s doubles final (see page 14).
Venus, the 2000 and 2001 champion who also lost last year’s final to Serena, struggled with a stomach strain and finished the match in considerable pain.
Serena’s victory was her fifth in succession over Venus in a Grand Slam final. It was her sixth Grand Slam singles triumph in total and re-established her dominance of the women’s game after a bitter French Open semi-final loss last month.
Venus finally conceded defeat when she sent a forehand long. “It was a little more difficult seeing as Venus was injured, but I just had to tell myself to look at the ball and nothing else,” said Serena after receiving the famous Rosewater Dish and a cheque for £ 535,000 ($ 892,400).
Serena now holds the Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon singles titles. She is the fifth woman since the game turned professional in 1968 to retain the Wimbledon crown after Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Venus.
After Venus practised for only 15 minutes in the morning there was some doubt about whether she would play at all. Under sunless skies the sisters stalked into the arena with Venus’ left thigh strapped, stepping gingerly and looking distinctly uncomfortable.
Bizarrely, though, Serena seemed the more afflicted early on, quickly falling 0-3 behind in an atmosphere more akin to a practice match. The defending champion looked completely off the pace but gradually found her rhythm, levelling 3-3 as the match began to pick up.
The younger sibling lapsed badly at 4-5, double-faulting for 0-40. Venus, apparently coping with her pain, then took the set after a prolonged exchange.
Three successive breaks at the start of the second ended when Serena held for 3-1. She led 5-1 but Venus won the next three games before the defending champion finally levelled the match at one-set apiece.
When Venus lost her opening service game of the decider, she called for the trainer and headed for the locker room for treatment.
She bravely continued but a pained double-fault at 2-4 killed off any doubt about the outcome and Serena served out the match to complete victory in two hours, three minutes.