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Williams sisters finish fabulous Wimbledon

Venus, Serena grab women's doubles crown

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2000

WIMBLEDON, England -- The Williams sisters are racking up major titles and promising many more to come.

Two days after winning the Wimbledon singles title, Venus Williams teamed with Serena Williams to beat Ai Sugiyama and Julie Halard-Decuguis 6-3, 6-2 on Monday to become the first sisters to capture the women's doubles championship.

The doubles final was postponed to Monday because of rain that extended the men's final -- won by Pete Sampras over Patrick Rafter -- to dusk Sunday.

The 70-minute victory gave the Williams' their third Grand Slam doubles title. They also won the 1999 U.S. Open and French Open.

Two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles apiece and Serena's 1999 U.S. Open single's trophy round out the silverware so far.

''We're both going to try to get as much as we can,'' 20-year-old Venus said.

''We're both really greedy,'' said Serena, 18.

With her 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory over Lindsay Davenport in Saturday's singles final, Venus became the first black women's champion at Wimbledon since Althea Gibson in 1957-58.

Venus was playing in only her fourth tournament this year after being sidelined for six months with tendinitis in both wrists. Serena, 18, had a two-month layoff with tendinitis in her knee.

''It's really amazing for us to come back like this,'' said Serena, who lost to Venus in the semifinals. ''People are going to practice harder to beat us. But you know what? We are too. We mean business.

''We can do a lot better. We're not playing our best tennis right now. There's a lot of room for improvement.''

Next target? The next Grand Slam, of course.

''For me, the U.S. Open,'' Venus said.

''For me, too,'' said Serena, who will defend her title when the tournament opens in late August.

The sisters are also determined to compete for the No. 1 ranking. When Serena joined the tour in 1998, Venus predicted they would be ranked 1-2 by the end of the year, but it hasn't happened yet.

Venus will move up to No. 3 this week behind Martina Hingis and Davenport, tying her career best. Serena will rise to No. 7.

''We've had a few hurdles to jump, as far as injuries and consistency go,'' Venus said. ''But we're on our way. We believe in ourselves. I don't think I'll be able to attain No. 1 this year. It's going to be tough. But next year, I definitely have the opportunity starting at the Australian Open.''

''We're able to beat all the players out there, getting more consistent with it,'' Serena said. ''We can't take it (No. 1) this year. It will have to be next year.''

The Williams sisters had no doubles ranking because they were injured and played so little together this year. They needed a wild card to enter Wimbledon and were seeded eighth.

Their biggest problem Monday was waking up on time.

The sisters had attended the champions dinner Sunday, both wearing sleeveless gowns, and didn't get back to their rented house until after midnight. Their father, Richard Williams, had flown home to Florida earlier Sunday.

''I said, 'Serena, you have to go to bed as soon as possible,''' Venus said.

''She took over as a parent,'' Serena said.

Their mother, Oracene, who did not come to Wimbledon, called Monday morning.

''I was somewhat in a coma,'' Venus said. ''It was 8:30. We went to bed at 2. I couldn't think. I told her I'd call her back.''

The sisters were a bit sluggish in the early going, losing serve in the opening game and falling behind 3-2.

From then on, the Williams team won eight straight games and 10 out of the last 12, overwhelming their fourth-seeded opponents with stinging serves, returns and volleys. They slapped hands after each point, win or lose, and whispered tactics to each other between points.

After Serena drilled an ace on match point, the sisters hugged each other. They held the winner's trophy aloft as they paraded around Centre Court to a standing ovation from the near-capacity crowd of around 12,000.

There was a carnival atmosphere in the stadium. Fans did the wave at the end of the first set, with guests in the Royal Box joining in. At several stages, spectators shouted, ''C'mon sisters!''

Centre Court tickets for Sunday were valid for Monday's play, while tickets were available to the general public for the discount price of $7.50, with proceeds going to a children's charity.

There were long queues outside the All England Club, with an estimated 3,000 people lined up for tickets in the early morning for the so-called ''People's Monday'' match.

''People here really support the sport from the first day,'' Serena said. ''The stadium is packed to the last day. This is not like America, where they come only for the finals or semifinals. It's really different here.''



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