Entries in Venus Williams (40)

8:39PM New York version of Grand Slam all about fun, entertainment

By Art Spander
The Sports Xchange/

NEW YORK -- They've made it here. It doesn't matter if they can make it anywhere else.

The United States Tennis Association found the formula to mine gold, to make history, to have a tournament that's an event, noisy, boisterous and, as Andy Roddick verified at 12:45 a.m. ET Tuesday, virtually never-ending.

Truly, there's nothing like it. Other than the corner of 42nd and Broadway. Or 57th and Lexington. Or other intersections in Manhattan.

Wimbledon is quiet lawns and British reserve. The French Open, Roland Garros, is clay courts and long rallies. The U.S. Open is a crowded, rollicking 14 days of celebrity watching, T-shirt selling, latte sipping, beer guzzling, pastrami chewing and great shot-making.

Night and day it goes. Day and night. Seemingly no sooner had Roddick departed in the wee hours than Julia Goerges and 2004 women's singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova were arriving for their 11 a.m. start. Less than an hour and a half later, Kuznetsova was a 6-3, 6-2 winner.

On to Arthur Ashe Court came the No. 1 women's seed, Dinara Safina, and an Australian named Olivia Rogowska, ranked 167th in the world. And on to the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center came thousands of fans, great gobs of them standing in the bright sunshine outside the stadium, in front of the fountain and watching on the big TV screen as Rogowska took a 3-0 lead in the third set.

Screams and gasps. How could this be happening, the top seed getting beat in the first round? By the time anyone else figured it out, Safina had figured it out, slipping by Rogowska, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.

"I try to do something good," said Safina, the Russian, who, despite never having won a Grand Slam event is atop the women's rankings, "but when it doesn't go good, then I go like too much into myself, what I'm doing right, wrong, instead of thinking what I have to do with the ball."

Which, of course, is hit it over the net to places where Rogowska can't hit back over the net.

Then, echoing Scarlet O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, Safina mused that she had made it to the next round "and tomorrow is another day."

Sometimes at the Open, it's difficult to separate yesterday, today and tomorrow. You know the line, about waking up in the city that never sleeps. What about not going to bed at all?

For years they've been writing songs about late hours in New York, "... When a Broadway baby says good night it's early in the morning ..." It's hard to say if the milkman was on his way when Roddick said good night -- do they still have people who deliver milk? -- but presumably some people were on their way to work.

There were some opening-night ceremonies with famous types, including the former basketball player David Robinson, and by the time Venus Williams and Vera Dushevina began, it was almost 8 o'clock.

When they finished, Venus staggering through in three sets, it was almost 11. And Roddick and his opponent, Bjorn Phau, still were waiting.

"The later the better," Roddick would say. "You know what it is. It's just something that's always been there in New York. It's tough sometimes. It's all part of it, kind of the crazies who stay 'til 1 in the morning. There's something fun about that."

Fun is an appropriate word for the Open. And lunacy. Tennis often is thought as a dispassionate activity for the elite. But here they've turned it into around-the-clock entertainment.

James Blake has a cheering section, the "J Block." Sam Querrey, the kid from Southern California who Tuesday beat Michael Yani, is shouted on by his "Samurai."

The famous Carnegie Deli has a booth here, and the lineup for one of those monster corned beef sandwiches is almost as long as it is to get on to Court 13, where Tuesday the lineup included Fernando Verdasco, the No. 10 seed, who defeated B. Becker -- Benjamin, not Boris.

Ralph Lauren Polo is the official clothing outfitter for the Open, but Nike and LaCoste, which Roddick wears, are well represented. If unofficially.

Nike is not allowed to use the phrase U.S. Open on its attire, so the stuff has subtle references such as "New York 2009." A T-shirt with those words costs $22, while a Nike model with "RF" (for Roger Federer) runs $40.

The New York Post had its fashion reporter, one Anahita Moussavian, critique the clothing and jewelry on display by the competitors. The observations were hardly positive.

Moussavian called Serena Williams' choice of basic black for night matches "misguided" and described Roddick's shirts and shorts as "a double fault ... it's boring."

She's entitled to her opinion, but if there's any description that never should be applied to the U.S. Open, it's "boring." On the contrary. For two weeks, the Open might be the most exciting place in the country.

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© 2009 CBS Interactive. All rights reserved.
10:54AM Serena beats Venus for her third Wimbledon title

Special to Newsday

WIMBLEDON, England - She's a tennis player again. The champion again. The Serena Williams who wanted to dabble in television and fashion is now back on the stage she knows best and back on top. Who said there are no second acts in American lives?

Serena won the battle of the Williams sisters, the battle of Wimbledon, defeating her older sibling, Venus, 7-6 (3), 6-2, Saturday in the women's final.

This was Serena's 11th major singles title and, starting with the U.S. Open last September, her third in the last four. She's missing only the French, where she made it to the quarterfinals.Not long ago, television commentator Mary Carillo reminded her audience that an athlete, in this case Serena, would regret not taking advantage of her peak years.

But now Serena is looking forward again. At 27, she is talking about competition for another three or four years. She's back where she was in 2003 and 2004. In fact, she's better than she was in '03 and '04.

"I've played a lot this year, and I've paid the price. I've really just wanted to focus on tennis, and I've really been doing that.''

What she did to Venus, who had won 20 straight matches, 34 straight sets, two straight Wimbledons and a total of five overall, was keep her moving, slugging forehands to the corners. Then Serena won the first-set tiebreak, reminiscent of the U.S. Open quarterfinals, where she beat Venus with two tiebreakers.

"When I went out on court, I felt this was one of the few times I didn't expect to come out with the win. I felt I had nothing to lose. Then when I won that first set, I was like, 'Wow, this is great.' No matter what, I'm a set away.''

Venus again had wads of tape on her left leg to protect a knee her father, Richard, said was a problem but which she refused to discuss. "I think I played well,'' Venus said, noticeably dispirited, "but she just seemed to play better. There's no easy way of losing, especially when it's so close to the crown.''

This was the fourth time Serena had beaten Venus in a major final and the 11th time Serena had beaten Venus of the 21 matches they have played overall.

"In the tiebreak,'' Venus said, "I would play a good shot, and she'd just hit a winner off of it or put me in a position where she could hit another winner.''

In other words, despite predictions, Serena controlled the match, not Venus, who conceded in the second set she began to rush her shots. "I think I lost it from the ground [strokes],'' was Venus' analysis.

There was a brief rain shower about an hour before the 2 p.m. (British summer time) start, but after tarps were placed on court, the sun came out, and there was no thought of utilizing the new roof.

What Venus could have utilized was that big serve, but as she mentioned a few days ago, against Serena her 127-mph serve often comes flying back.

"It feels so amazing," Serena said after being presented the trophy, called coincidentally the Venus Rosewater Dish. "I can't believe I'm holding it and Venus isn't in. She always wins.''

Serena has won three of the past four major singles titles, though when the world rankings come out tomorrow, she will be No. 2 to Dinara Safina, whom Venus destroyed in the semifinals.

"If you hold three Grand Slam titles, maybe you should be No. 1, but not on the WTA Tour, obviously," Serena said.

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Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.

4:09PM In all-Williams final, little sister has all the answers

By Art Spander
The Sports Xchange/

WIMBLEDON, England -- It was the little sister who came up big. It was Serena Williams who made the shots, made the comments and, with a T-shirt that offered both a laugh and a reference to her greatness, made everyone understand she has a sense of humor as well as a brilliant forehand.

Venus Williams was the defending champion. Venus Williams was going for her sixth Wimbledon singles title. Venus Williams was the favorite. Venus Williams, however, came in second in a two-sister battle at Centre Court.

In truth, it was less a battle than a romp. For Serena, that is, who defeated Venus 7-6 (3), 6-2 on a Saturday of great potential and disappointing outcome. Not in who won, since both the Williams are champions, but in how Serena won.

Venus was going for a third straight title. Venus had won 20 straight matches at Wimbledon, 34 straight sets. Then she lost two straight sets. In 1 hour, 28 minutes.

"She had an answer for everything," Venus said of Serena.

But we had no answers for what happened to Venus, who again wore tape to brace a left knee her absent father Richard -- he had flown home to Florida to avoid watching daughter against daughter -- said was a problem but of which Venus, stubbornly in denial, said, "I have no complaints."

She no longer has the trophy that carries her name, the Venus Rosewater Dish, given the champion. For the third time, but the first time in six years, that belongs to 27-year-old Serena, who came to the news conference in a T-shirt that read, "Are you looking at my titles?"

"Well," explained a particularly jovial Serena, in full commercial mode, "this shirt is available at Nike stores, if you guys want to go get one. I thought [Friday] night, when I was getting my stuff together, if I win, I'll wear this because I would have 11 titles and I wouldn't know if you were looking at my titles or my Gatorade bottle."

Hey, it's been a great few years. She's entitled to have some fun. Serena has won three of the last four Slams, the U.S. Open in September, Australian Open in February and now in July, Wimbledon, her 11th Slam overall.

After Thursday's semis, in which Serena saved match point against Elena Dementieva, she said, "Obviously, Venus is the favorite." And Serena conceded when she walked out on Centre Court, "This is one of the few times I didn't expect to come out with the win."

So she played a gambling style, using her big serve, ripping forehands into the corners. Never was broken. And then after winning the first set on a tiebreaker (she had beaten Venus in the U.S. Open quarters on two tiebreakers) took advantage of Venus' suddenly ineffective serve and lack of movement.

"I felt like I had nothing to lose," said Serena. "When I won that first set, I was like, 'Wow, this is great.' No matter what, I'm a set away."

They are siblings, but they are not alike. Serena shows her emotions, tells you what she's thinking. Venus is the mystery lady, revealing very little.

On the BBC telecast, Tracy Austin said Venus' second serve was "slower and predictable." In the interview room later, Venus said, "I don't agree on that; [Serena] had a hard time stepping into my second serve."

Venus did concede she played too far behind the baseline in the second set when she was broken twice, the second time on match point.

"I tried my best," said 29-year-old Venus. "She just played so well. She really lifted her game. There's no easy way of losing, especially when it's so close to the crown.

"She played great, especially in the tiebreak. I don't think I did too many things wrong in the tiebreak. Just, I would hit a good shot, and she would hit a winner off it or put me in position where she could hit another winner."

The sisters have played six times in Grand Slam finals. Serena has won four. The sisters have played 21 times overall. Serena has won 11.

Serena is No. 2 in the women's rankings, behind Dinara Safina, who was crushed 6-1, 6-0 by Venus in the Wimbledon semis. The points system is skewed, and confusing.

"I'd rather be No. 2 and hold three Grand Slams in the past year than be No. 1 and not have any," Serena insisted. Then with a bit of a needle she added, "I see myself as No. 2. That's where I am. I think Dinara did a great job to get to No. 1. She won Rome and Madrid."

A couple of years back, injuries and boredom had an effect on Serena, who didn't play a great deal and didn't do well when she was playing.

"I feel like I've played a lot this year and I've paid the price," said Serena. "For several years now, three or four years, I just really wanted to focus on tennis, and I've really been doing that. I feel like this is where I want to be, and this is my chance to capitalize on everything."

In the Wimbledon women's final of 2009, no question she certainly capitalized on her big sister.

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© 2009 CBS Interactive. All rights reserved.
5:33PM Venus, Serena support for each other will take Saturday off

By Art Spander
The Sports Xchange/

WIMBLEDON, England -- Still the big sister. Venus Williams made that clear. As before, she made clear how overwhelming she can be on the lawns of Wimbledon, her little Edens in the chaos of big-time tennis.

She's back, like the shark in Jaws. Venus is back, in the final once more, playing Serena Williams once more Saturday, the Fourth of July, perfect for two Americans.

Almost as perfect as Venus was in destroying the player seeded first, the player first in the women's rankings, dumbfounded Dinara Safina.

"I think," sighed Safina, "she's just too good on grass. She gave me a pretty good lesson today."

Venus needed only 51 minutes for what was less a match than a mismatch in one of Thursday's two semifinals.

Serena didn't have it quite as easy or swift. She was one shot away from losing to Elena Dementieva, who like Safina is Russian. But Dementieva couldn't make that shot, a cross-court backhand, in the 10th game of the third set, and Serena finished a 6-7, 7-5, 8-6 winner.

The shortest set in that one was only a minute less than Venus' entire match. In the end, Serena and Dementieva, who was more aggressive, hitting better forehands, but couldn't hang on, played 2 hours, 49 minutes, the longest women's semi in Wimbledon's records.

So it is Venus, trying for a sixth championship and third in a row, against Serena, who lost to her in the final last year but won a couple of Wimbledon titles herself in 2002 and 2003.

Sibling against sibling, Williams against Williams, for the fourth time in a Wimbledon final, the 21st time overall. Each has 10 victories. Each feels compassion toward the other. Each desperately wants the trophy, interestingly named the Venus Rosewater Dish.

"It is different," Venus said of playing Serena, "because I'm happy for her to be in the final, but I have to face her and defeat her. I don't necessarily want her to lose, but for sure I want me to win.

"Maybe that doesn't make sense, but when I'm playing someone else, I want them to lose. I don't like to ever see her disappointed in any way. But at the same time, I don't want to see myself disappointed."

Venus is 29 and more protective than 27-year-old Serena, who, with her Twitter and Facebook, is considerably more outspoken. Venus is cautious in her remarks. Serena can be outrageous.

"But, you know," a candid Venus said, "I need to get my titles, too. I'm still the big sister."

The first few times the Williamses met, in the U.S. Open at the beginning of the decade, at Wimbledon, there were suggestions their father Richard decided who would be the winner before they took the court.

Whether that was legitimate speculation or stupid contemplation, their early matches seemed to lack emotion.

But over the years any hesitancy has disappeared. They charge and slug and chase down balls against each other as they would against anyone else.

Venus wanted Serena to win Thursday. "It's like, if she didn't win, the dream doesn't come true that we're playing in the final."

Serena wanted Venus to win. "It was like, great going." Now they don't want the other to win.

Venus has to be favored, not only after her clubbing of Safina but because Venus has won 20 consecutive matches at Wimbledon, and 34 sets.

"I feel going into this final," said Serena, "I have nothing to lose. Obviously she's playing the best tennis at this tournament. Start with that and just keep positive."

Serena very well could have lost, maybe should have lost. She challenged a couple of calls that originally went Dementieva's way but that the instant-replay review, Hawk-Eye, verified were incorrect. By fractions of an inch.

But Serena refused to concede she was lucky. "I don't think there was too much luck involved," she said.

Not when Serena was serving. She had 20 aces.

"I definitely owe this one to my serve," she agreed.

Her usually strong forehand was nonexistent. "He didn't show up today," she cracked. "I think he went to Hawaii. But I've called him ... er, her, and asked her to come back for the final. Hopefully she'll come back."

No question Venus has come back. Someone whose English carried a strong Eastern Europe accent told Venus that the score of her match, Safina winning one pathetic game, "is very strange."

Not to Venus.

"I like the score," she said with a smile. "Be honest about that. I think the score just showed my level of play. I was just dictating every point. I felt like my performance has been building each round, better and better."

And only one person can stop her: little sister.

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© 2009 CBS Interactive. All rights reserved.
9:38AM Venus, Serena again in Wimbledon class of their own

By Art Spander
The Sports Xchange/

WIMBLEDON, England -- There's a new musical in London, Sister Act, based on the movie of the same name. There's an old tennis routine at Wimbledon, sister act, based on a history of similar results. No dancing in this one, just advancing.

Venus and Serena Williams are at it once more. In the semifinals once more. One win from the final once more.

"That would be fantastic," said Venus. "It's what Serena and I are hoping for, but we still would have to play well."

They hardly can play better than they have been. It was 90 degrees in the shade Tuesday, and there isn't much shade at the All England Club except for some of the seat holders on Centre Court and Court One.

No time to dawdle. The heat was on. So were Venus and Serena.

Venus needed a mere 68 minutes to squash Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 6-2, in one of the quarterfinals. Serena took 73 minutes to gain revenge, 6-2, 6-3 against Victoria Azarenka, who had beaten Serena in Miami in the spring.

In the Thursday semis, Venus, trying for a sixth Wimbledon singles championship and third in a row, faces No. 1 seed Dinara Safina, a 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 winner over Sabine Lisicki, while Serena plays Olympic champion Elena Dementieva, who in the other quarter defeated Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-2.

This in an affirmation of those who arrange the seedings. The final four are the top four seeds, Safina (1), Serena (2), Venus (3) and Dementieva (4). If form didn't exactly follow function, there wasn't much deviation.

There hasn't been any deviation in Venus' purposeful march. She has won 19 straight matches at Wimbledon, 32 consecutive sets. "Her tennis is so powerful," Radwanska said of Venus, "She's playing so flat (with no spin and little bounce to the ball), and it's hard to do anything."

Azarenka was no less impressed with Serena: "She was striking the ball so hard and good, she really showed the unbeatable Serena today."

Sister act. One Williams or the other has won seven of the last nine Wimbledon women's titles, Venus in 2000, '01, '05, '07 and '08; Serena in '02 and '03. Last year Venus beat Serena in the final; in '02 and '03, Serena beat Venus in the final.

"Do I feel invincible?" 29-year-old Venus Williams asked rhetorically. "I'd like to say yes, but I really do work at it."

Someone wondered what it would be like for Venus to play Venus. "I have no idea," Serena answered, "but I guess the same way I feel when I have to face Venus. You can't give an inch. You have to be on your best game and hopefully she might not be on her best game."

Both the Williams ladies appear on their best game, a game no one else seems to possess.

"I don't know," Serena responded when asked what sets them apart. "We have a great game. We have strong serves. I think we have pretty good returns. Just solid all-around court players. I think we move pretty well. And honestly, I feel lucky and blessed to have had such a good coach in my dad, and my mom, to have taught us the game."

Some, perhaps out of jealousy, say the sisters simply were born great, tremendous athletes -- which they are -- but refuse to acknowledge the sweat and thought that has gone into making them successful.

"If it was that easy," said Venus, "we'd win everything. But it's not that easy. Still, I think we definitely are the front-runners as far as being some of the best players out there. ... I think the style of the game Serena and I play, we play better than the other women."

The Wimbledon style, matches before dark, changed Monday night when the new roof was closed, on the excuse of a brief shower, and Andy Murray took five sets to beat Stanislas Wawrinka, the final point coming at 10:38 p.m. local time.

Murray, the Scot, grumbled about the lack of notice he was given about playing indoors and the amount of humidity despite air conditioning. The BBC attracted 12.6 million viewers for the match, and there was a debate whether the broadcast network persuaded Wimbledon to close the roof and hold the Murray match last on the schedule, after many commuters had arrived home.

Venus, for her part, watched on TV long after finishing a fourth-round match. "It was exciting," she said. "The lighting, from the TV at least, it looked like daylight instead of playing under lights. But I haven't played under the roof, so I don't know what it's like."

What Wimbledon has been like is an old routine with new questions for the participants, such as the one to Serena, who has a total 10 Grand Slam victories, about whether she contemplates her achievements.

"Some of my trophies," she pointed out in denial, "I use for makeup brushes. Maybe I'll just take a step back and take all the brushes out and appreciate every title and every trophy."

But not after she tries to keep stepping forward at Wimbledon toward a probable rematch in the final against her sister.

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