Wimbledon: Venus Williams giggled as she clutched the championship trophy against her chest, threw back her head and whooped at the sky.
Winning Wimbledon never gets old.
Venus won tennis’ most prestigious tournament for the fourth time on Saturday, beating surprising finalist Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-1.
It was Venus’s sixth Grand Slam title, and her first since winning Wimbledon in 2005. She was also the champion at the All England Club in 2000 and 2001.
At No. 31, Venus became the lowest-ranked women’s winner in Wimbledon history. Plagued in recent years by injuries that sent her ranking sliding, she rediscovered her championship form this week on the surface that always seems to inspire her best efforts.
“It has been a long road back,” Venus said during the trophy ceremony. “I brought it together here against some of the best players in the world, including Marion.”
She lost 22 games in her final four matches, beating 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova on Wednesday, 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on Thursday and French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic on Friday.
Venus’s resurgence was reminiscent of the run to this year’s Australian Open title by her sister Serena, who entered that tournament ranked 81st. Venus expressed gratitude to her sister — among others — during the trophy ceremony. “Serena, she inspired me,” she said. “The Australian Open champion — I wanted to be like her.”
Serena, eliminated by top-ranked Justine Henin in the Wimbledon quarter finals, watched from the stands as Venus turned in a workmanlike performance punctuated by occasional brilliance. She chased down shots all over the court, and her varied shot-making ranged from delicate slices to a fearsome backhand overhead slam.
While the tournament was plagued by rain for much of the past two weeks, the final took place right on schedule — and in warm sunshine, the best weather of the fortnight.
Venus served out the first game at love, then broke serve when Bartoli double-faulted. They played 19 minutes before Bartoli won a game to make it 3-1, prompting cheers of encouragement from a Centre Court crowd eager for a competitive match.
And it was — for a while. The Frenchwoman, playing in her first Grand Slam final, settled down to reach three-all. But she double-faulted for the fourth time for set point, and Venus converted by charging forward to put away a backhand volley.
She kept up the pressure to start the second set, winning the first three games. Both players then requested medical timeouts — Bartoli to have her left foot retaped, and Venus to have her upper left thigh taped.
Following the 11-minute interruption, the 19th-ranked Bartoli held serve to make it 3-1. She had rallied from a set down in her past three matches, including a shocking win on Friday over Henin.
But this time, there would be no comeback. Venus hit a backhand winner to break serve for 5-1, and closed out the victory with a 124-mph service winner that handcuffed a weary Bartoli. The crowd roared as Venus raised her arms, grinned and, after shaking hands with her opponent, let out with an exultant “Woooooo!”
Venus boosted her bank balance by a cool £700,000 ($1.41 million), but rather than the amount itself, she was delighted that women competitors had finally won the battle for equal pay. (AGENCIES)