Williams beats sister for third Grand Slam title of '02Posted: Saturday September 07, 2002 10:38 PM
Updated: Sunday September 08, 2002 2:20 AM
FLUSHING, N.Y. (AP) -- Serena Williams hit a weak lob and talked to herself. She won a long rally and pumped a fist, screaming, "Come on!" She saw a ball land out and ran over, pointing her racket at the spot to make sure the proper call would come.
At the opposite end of the court, Venus would look away or stare at her strings, perhaps trying to figure out how kid sister took over.
Unabashed about powering the ball and taking advantage of mistakes, Serena easily beat Venus 6-4, 6-3 Saturday night at the U.S. Open to win a third straight Grand Slam title -- defeating her sibling in each final.
"Venus dominated me," Serena said, "for a long time."
Well, now it's her turn to be No. 1 in the world and No. 1 in her home.
Serena has won four consecutive matches against Venus, all in straight sets, including on clay at the French Open, on grass at Wimbledon, and now on New York's hard courts.
She's just the fifth woman to win a year's last three majors.
Venus was the two-time defending U.S. Open champion, had won 19 straight matches, owns a tour-leading seven titles and is 60-3 against everyone but her sister in 2002. She'll still have to settle, for now, for being No. 2, the spot she was relegated to by Serena after Wimbledon.
"I just had a great year," said the 22-year-old Venus, who's 15 months older. "More than any person other than Serena could ask for, I guess. Everyone has their year and this year is her year."
They practiced together two hours before the final and later shared time in the training room, one on a treadmill, the other on a stationary bike.
Before the match, they acted like siblings, with Serena walking around the umpire's chair to whisper in Venus' ear during a ceremony that included Aretha Franklin's singing and the unfurling of a U.S. flag the size of the court.
And when it ended, they hugged and kissed at the net, both smiling. They were given a standing ovation by the record crowd of 23,164, which included their parents, Richard and Oracene, and celebrities such as Hank Aaron, Spike Lee, Joe Torre and Susan Lucci.
With eyes closed, it was tough to tell which grunt, which thud off the racket belonged to which sister.
When Venus faced match points at 5-3 in the second set, she wiped out the first with a second-serve ace, and the next by extending for a pretty backhand volley winner.
Two points later, Venus -- playing with tape on her right hand to cover a blister -- double faulted to set up a third match point. Serena capitalized, sending a booming backhand to a corner, and Venus' forehand hit the net.
Perhaps Serena just wanted it more, an extension of her self-described rededication to excellence over the past year. It's helped her go 4-0 in 2002 against Venus and even their career series at 5-5.
"I was just tired of losing," said Serena, who now has just as many major titles as Venus, four. "Life was passing me by."
As often as they are looked upon as a team, they are individuals, of course. Serena is more gregarious and talkative in public, and wore a short black bodysuit accessorized by pink sweatbands and a $29,000 diamond bracelet. "She's more outgoing," said Venus, who wore a more traditional, red-white-and-blue tennis dress.
While Venus was quiet and straight-faced throughout the match, Serena displayed plenty of the fire she does when beating other top women.
Serena served out the first set at love, capping it with an exclamation point of an ace at 105 mph. She had a 16-13 edge in winners, but both wiped away countless others with the supreme court coverage they have used to become the first siblings ranked 1-2.
They have won eight of the past 13 major titles. Plus, they have met in four of the past five Grand Slam finals. Not once in the 20th century did siblings face off for a major championship.
"I did the best I could today. I did make a lot of errors and that makes it tough to win the match," Venus said. "I think Serena was the best player in the tournament this year."
Indeed. Serena never dropped a set, just like at Wimbledon, where she also ended her sister's two-year reign.
The Williams sisters appear to be just at the start of the type of rivalry that Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi built over the year, one that will be celebrated when they meet in the men's final Sunday.
One big difference: Sampras and Agassi have produced several classic encounters. Venus and Serena have some catching up to do in that department.
In last year's U.S. Open final, Venus won 6-2, 6-4 despite only seven winners. In the French Open final in June, they sisters combined for 101 unforced errors. At Wimbledon, at least, they produced one set of sustained brilliance.
Perhaps it's simply a result of facing the game's other most intimidating player, or of two opponents who know each other's strengths and weaknesses much too well. Or maybe it stems from the difficulty of trying to be domnant against a sibling.
Saturday's spectators seemed to switch allegiances freely, rooting for whichever sister was trailing in a given game.
"I always want to see Venus do well," Serena said. "I never want to see Venus lose."
Except, of late, when Venus is across the net.