Work in Sports
Williams defeats Davenport for Wimbledon title
WIMBLEDON, England (CNN/SI) - Venus Williams finally became a Grand Slam champion on Saturday by defeating Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon, completing a dominating two week run at the All England Club and showing that she and sister Serena could be a force on the women's tennis tour for years to come.
Venus Williams displayed extraordinary power, pace and athleticism to defeat the defending champion 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) and become the first black women's champion at Wimbledon since Althea Gibson, who won the title in 1957 and 1958.
It was the ultimate performance on the sport's grandest stage by the Venus Williams the tennis world has been hearing about ever since she emerged as a child prodigy in Compton, Calif.
The 20-year-old Williams accepted the appropriately named Venus Rosewater Dish, the silver salver that goes to the women's champion, after an emotional celebration of her family's second Grand Slam title.
Eighteen-year-old Serena Williams, who lost to Venus in the semifinals Thursday, won last year's U.S. Open. It's the first time in tennis history that two sisters have each won a Grand Slam championship.
"We're breaking records and we're moving forward," Venus Williams said. "I always expected to win Grand Slams. This was meant to be."
"I know she's somewhere watching this. She was watching when Serena won the Open," she said.
After Davenport pushed a forehand into the net on the second match point, Williams leaped high into the air, her arms outstretched. She skipped and bounded five times to the net, her face the picture of elation.
Williams climbed into the stands and ran up the steps to the guest box, where she fell into a long embrace with her sister. Her father, Richard Williams, wiped away tears with a towel.
"It's really great because I've worked so hard all my life to be here," Venus said after accepting the winner's plate from the Duchess of Kent. "It's strange. I always dream I win a Grand Slam. When I wake up, it's a nightmare. Now that I've got it, I don't have to wake up like that any more."
As for the family celebration, she said, "I can't hold back in life. That's just the way I am. I don't like to miss a celebration or a great laugh."
Holding the plate, Williams said, "It's better than the men's cup in my opinion."
Looking forward to the traditional champions' ball Sunday night, she said, "I bought my gown before I came here because I was determined to get this."
Davenport, winner of three Grand Slams, looked confused and overwhelmed against the faster, stronger and more consistent Wiliams.
"You knew eventually she was going to win a Grand Slam," Davenport said. "It's nice to see the monkey get off her back. Both Serena and Venus are going to win more Grand Slam titles. Venus is going to be a lot tougher to beat now that she has this first one under her belt."
While Davenport normally dictates points with her booming serve and groundstrokes, Davenport was left dazed and flat-footed as Williams cracked searing winners all over the court.
Not only did she dominate with her power from the baseline, she also beat Davenport with put-away volleys, overheads and deft drop shots.
Davenport, wearing a wrap around her left thigh, appeared slightly restricted in her mobility. She's been bothered by leg and back problems for weeks, but made no excuses.
"It's tough when your opponent is hitting the ball so hard, on the lines," she said. "That tends to make [the ailments] a little worse. It was just really hard to combat the power that she was giving me and try and run down enough balls on the grass."
Williams looked tight in the early going, losing her serve in the first game after three unforced errors. But she broke back right away to take control, winning four straight games and keeping Davenport pinned on her heels.
Davenport went ahead 3-1 in the second set but failed to keep the momentum. Williams showed signs of choking when, serving for the match at 5-4, she double faulted twice and made two unforced errors to get broken. But Williams was dominant in the tiebreak, twice holding up her clenched left fist after winners.
Richard Williams, coach and manager of his two daughters, held up different hand-written messages on a board throughout the match. They included "Hello Mrs. Williams -- I Love You And Miss You"; "British Fans Are The Best Fans In The World"; and "We Love You Duke and Duchess."
Rather than praise Venus, her dad chose to pay tribute to Davenport. "I don't have nothing to say at all except that Lindsay is a great player," he said. "I love Lindsay. And I think she's a wonderful human being."
The victory was worth $650,000 for Williams, while Davenport received $325,000.
The top-seeded Sampras beat Belarussian qualifier Vladimir Voltchkov in straight sets Friday to earn a shot at his seventh Wimbledon title and a record 13th Grand Slam championship.
"I'd love to break it here," Sampras said. "I'm not looking at it as pressure. I'm looking at it as a great moment for tennis, a great moment for me."
The 12th-seeded Rafter overcame Andre Agassi in five sets, becoming the first Australian to reach the final here since Pat Cash won the tournament in 1987.
Sampras holds a 9-4 edge in matches against Rafter, but the Australian has won three of the last four. They've never met on grass -- a surface that suits the serve-and-volley games of both players.
Sampras, who reached the final without facing a seed, can reach two milestones Sunday: He can equal William Renshaw's record of seven Wimbledon singles titles, set in the 1880s, and surpass Roy Emerson for sole possession of the all-time Grand Slam mark with 13.
"My legacy is really the last thing on my mind Sunday," Sampras said. "When you're going through the battle, you can't think of your place in history or your legacy. It's the match at hand. When you're competing, you're in kind of your own little world."
While Sampras is playing for history, Rafter is playing against it.
No player has ever beaten both Agassi and Sampras at the same Grand Slam tournament. Eight players have beaten one but lost to the other.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.