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Venus: The Goddess Of Wimbledon


At the tournament revered for its history and tradition, Venus Williams staked her claim to the future of women's tennis.

With an extraordinary display of power and athleticism, the 20-year-old Williams beat defending champion Lindsay Davenport in straight sets Saturday to claim the Wimbledon title she always felt she was destined to win.

CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports that Williams, by joining kid sister Serena as a Grand Slam champion, served notice that the American siblings could dominate the game for years to come.

"Predator one and predator two," said tennis writer Michael Mewshaw. "These two girls are very young, very strong, very athletic. We could be seeing a lot more of them."

Venus' overpowering 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory allowed her to 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."

The sisters have already won two Grand Slam doubles titles together, and will try for a third in Sunday's final against Ai Sugiyama and Julie-Halard-Decugis. They've also won two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles apiece.

"We have two singles `slams' in our family, four mixed doubles and two doubles," Venus said. "We're racking them up now."

Williams said she was honored to equal the achievement of Gibson, now 72 and living in East Orange, N.J.

"I know she's somewhere watching this," Williams said. "She was watching when Serena won the Open. ... She said that she was happy that she got to see another black person win it in her lifetime. So now I think it's really a privilege for me to win this Wimbledon while she' still alive."

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 Williams.

"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, she was left dazed and flat-footed as Williams cracked searing winners all over the court.

Not only did Williams dominate with her power from the baseline, she also beat Davenport with put-away volleys, overheads and deft drop shots.

Davenport was wearing a wrap around her left thigh and 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."

In winning the title, Williams capped a tournament in which she defeated the draw's three other most talented players top-seeded Martina Hingis, No. 2 Davenport and No. 8 Serena.

She summed up her Wimbledon fortnight in one word: "proud."

"I got the job done," she said. "I didn't let anything hold me back - not No. 1, not No. 2, not No. 8."

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