February 24, 2007
Williams Crushes Peer, Captures Memphis Title
MEMPHIS, TN, USA - Throughout the last week, the Memphis crowds watched as one of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's all-time greats played her way back into form, after missing most of the last eight months with a left wrist injury. On Saturday night that became title-winning form as Venus Williams earned the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships & the Cellular South Cup with a resonant 61 61 victory over Israel's Shahar Peer.
Williams, who came into the Tier III event ranked No.54 after a long struggle with the wrist, shook off some rust en route to the final, going to three sets in her opener and winning her second round and quarterfinal bouts in tight two-setters. She showed glimpses of her former brilliance on Friday evening, racing past Romanian Ioana Raluca Olaru with the loss of only five games, but her best was still to come.
The No.7-seeded American was in complete control against the top-seeded Peer from start to finish, and particularly on serve, never facing a break point during the one-hour, eight-minute rout. She finished with nearly twice as many points as her shell-shocked opponent, who was coming off some of the best results of her career, including two Top 10 wins and her first major quarterfinal in Australia.
"I felt confident today - it was good," said Williams, who earned her 34th career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title. "I like a challenge. It was a wonderful match as she is a great player. I had to make the most of the opportunities she gave me."
Williams, whose 33 previous titles include five majors and a smattering of Tier I and Tier II titles, was playing at the Tier III level or below for just the fifth time - but with her run this week she is an immaculate 23-0 in those, prevailing at the Oklahoma City event in 1998 and 1999, Gold Coast in 2002 and Istanbul in 2005.
On the new rankings she is projected to re-enter the Top 40; should she move that high, she'll pass Lindsay Davenport, Meghann Shaughnessy and Shenay Peery to become the second-highest American on the chart, trailing only Serena.
"My goal is to be in the Top 16 by the French Open," said Williams, who has had a lot of success at events such as Miami, Charleston and Rome, which are all on the calendar leading up to Paris. "I have three of four tournaments to get there."
The No.17-ranked Peer, who lost just 19 games in four matches in reaching the final, said she just couldn't get into the match from the beginning.
"I didn't start out well and she just started gaining confidence," she said. "I didn't see her play like this the whole week. She just made so many winners and I did a lot of unforced. It was going both ways. I wasn't playing well and she was. That's why I lost so easily."
Peer is now 3-1 in finals, having won Pattaya City, Prague and Istanbul last year.
2 Grand Slam (Mixed Doubles) Titles
(1) Wimbledon ('98), (1) US Open ('98) (both w/ Max Mirnyi)