Serena Steals Slam From Venus

Serena Williams beat older sister Venus for the first time in their professional careers Sunday to capture the Grand Slam Cup and a $900,000 payday.

The U.S. Open champion won 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a family final in which the players' mother applauded at the end.

Venus, at 19 one year older, applauded Serena and the sisters embraced at the net after the match, but did not show much emotion during play.

"This is exciting, this is what we always wanted," Serena said during the awards ceremony.

"Congratulations, Serena, the U.S. Open champion," Venus said.

Venus earned $400,000, meaning the family budget grew by $1.3 million.

This was the second sister-sister final in the history of pro tennis. In the first, Venus beat Serena 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in Key Biscayne, Fla., in March. She also won their two nontitle matches in 1998.

Earlier, Greg Rusedski used his big serve to overpower Tommy Haas in four sets in the men's final, taking the richest prize in tennis.

Rusedski fired 29 aces to win 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5) and earn $1.3 million.

"I tried everything, but he was too good for me," said Haas, who won $650,000.

The $6.7 million tournament, which pays more money per player than any other tennis event, features the 12 men and eight women with the best records in the year's four Grand Slam events.

Serena won the U.S. Open three weeks ago and now has a 16-match winning streak. Venus ended another 16-match winning streak when she beat Serena in March. Venus was the only top player Serena had never beaten.

Serena, the more muscular of the sisters, won her fifth title of the year. She was all over Venus from the outset, winning 12 of the first three points and holding Venus to three points in the first five games.

But her game deteriorated in the second set and Venus evened the score. In the third set, Serena broke serve for a 3-1 lead, missed two chances to go up 5-1 and needed three match points to win in 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Rusedski, who never got past the round of 16 in a Grand Slam tournament this year, entered the Grand Slam Cup when five qualifiers, including Pete Sampras and Patrick Rafter, withdrew because of injuries.

"I was lucky to have a chance to be here," said Rusedski, a finalist at the U.S. Open in 1997. "I am not thinking about the money right now. That will come later."

The Canadian-born Briton won the eighth title of his career, relying on serves that often reached 137 mph.

Rusedski dominated the first two sets, but faltered in the third, losng the tiebreaker. He also squandered three match points in the fourth, before putting away the match with a forehand volley.

"I thought I had the match after two sets, but Tommy played much better in the third," Rusedski said. "He really raised his game."

Rusedski could be the last winner of the Grand Slam Cup, whose future is uncertain after 10 years.

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