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practiceboy
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:07 PM
By S.L. Price

Suddenly, she looked so young. All the cool was gone: Her opponent, once a bitter rival, started to extend a hand, but Venus Williams opened her arms for a hug. All the hauteur had melted away: Venus leaped from the grass, skinny legs flying up, treating Wimbledon's august Centre Court like some backyard trampoline. Her father, Richard, stared down from the stands, his mind flashing back to a three-year-old girl bouncing on the bed as he yelled, Get your legs strong! "I loved doing that when I was little," Venus says, but now she was 25 and big and doing it again, jumping and giggling while her dad fought back tears. Who could blame them? Venus had just done what few expected her ever to do again. Flashbulbs popped. She fell to her knees. Men shouted, "Well done, Venus!" and 13,802 people wouldn't or couldn't stop clapping, filling the Saturday twilight with this rolling roar of amazement. Already broadcasters and tennis officials were scrambling to find the one fact grand enough to sum up what they'd seen. Was it that Williams had risen from near oblivion to become the lowest-seeded player (14th) in the Open era to win Wimbledon? Or that she'd become the first woman since 1935 to save championship point and win? Maybe it was that she'd flirted so shamelessly with disaster: Eight times in the two-hour, 45-minute match, the longest women's final in Wimbledon history, Williams was two points from defeat; eight times she outhustled and outplayed world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport before finally seizing her third Wimbledon title, 4-6, 7-6, 9-7. Take your pick. By the time one of the grittiest performances in Grand Slam history ended, the drama had grown so thick, the quality of tennis so high, that even the loser called the experience "exhilarating."

"She just took it away from me," said the 29-year-old Davenport after cracking in a way that would leave most players shattered. "She just was ... incredible."

But maybe it wasn't the tennis that told the tale. Maybe it was what happened once the match ended. For if Saturday's final provided a microcosm of Williams's two-year struggle and two-week resurgence, its aftermath pushed the clock back even further. Venus screamed as the applause went on, like a kid howling at a passing locomotive, like the exuberant teenager -- Venus Unbound -- who stormed the sport in 1997. Watching her try to sit still, then stand up, then sit back down during the trophy presentation, you half expected one of her old hair beads to skitter across the court. "It's been a long time," said her mother, Oracene Price, "since I've seen her that happy."

The CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, Larry Scott, made sure to find Richard Williams to say how much Venus's return will help the sport. But if the last decade has taught us anything about the Williams family, it's to presume nothing about the long term. Better, for the women's game, to simply revel in the fact that Venus's stunning victories over defending champion Maria Sharapova in the semifinals and Davenport in the final overshadowed anything tossed up by the men. Roger Federer may have won his 21st straight final and his third straight Wimbledon on Sunday with a breezy 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 dismissal of Andy Roddick, but mere genius can't compete with the buzz of Venus on a roll -- or the revelation that as much as the game needs her, the feeling is mutual.

"I put tennis first in my life," Williams said after trouncing Sharapova, but it took that straight-sets victory for the world to start believing her. Ever since Williams tore an abdominal muscle during a semifinal win at the 2003 Wimbledon, her interest in tennis has constantly been called into question. She missed the rest of the '03 season trying to recover, and that fall her sister Yetunde Price was murdered. Venus suffered through wrist and ankle injuries in 2004 and lost count of the score during her second-round loss at Wimbledon. At this year's French Open she lost early to a 15-year-old, and her ranking dropped to No. 16. Talk of her interior-design business and an upcoming reality show with sister Serena -- not to mention the fact that Venus hadn't won a Grand Slam title since the 2001 U.S. Open -- made it easy to imagine her drifting away from the game.

Not anymore. Williams came into this year's Wimbledon transformed, a new-old version of the woman who once disposed of opponents with regal disdain. She had always expressed a near-delusional belief in herself, but this fortnight she delivered it with a tweak: "Faith without work," she admitted early on, "is dead." Healthy again, but having played a reduced schedule because of continuing abdominal tenderness, she avenged Serena's third-round loss to Jill Craybas with a 6-0, 6-2 fourth-round thrashing, then rolled past Mary Pierce in straight sets in the quarterfinals. The shaky forehand and fraying serve, longtime signs of Venus's spotty practice habits, had disappeared, replaced by vicious strokes that stood up under pressure. As the final weekend loomed, Williams turned down chances to see a hot play in London's West End and to have dinner out with her family; she didn't want to lose focus. Capable at times of wearing half a jewelry box on court, she went into the final without earrings, her head and body free of all distractions.

Not that Williams was the only player seeking a psychic boost from the sport's greatest event. This year's Wimbledon was a lollapalooza of need. Sharapova needed to win to justify her presence on seemingly every bus stop and billboard in London. Amélie Mauresmo needed to win to shed her reputation as the game's biggest choker. Davenport needed to win to justify a top ranking unbolstered by a Grand Slam title since 2000. For the first time in two years the Williams sisters, Davenport, Sharapova and Belgian stars Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters all converged on a major tournament -- not that the results provided much clarity. Just as Venus regained her focus, Serena went all fuzzy: After missing last month's French Open with a stress fracture in her left ankle, the 2005 Australian Open champion lasted only three rounds at Wimbledon. Henin-Hardenne, meanwhile, followed a revitalizing title run in Paris by re-straining a hamstring and losing early. Who knows who will show up for the hard-court season?

The men's tour is not nearly as unsettled, but you could feel the need all the same. Once ranked No. 1, former Wimbledon champ Lleyton Hewitt came to England ranked second but with seven straight losses to Federer; only a win would restore his previously unshakable self-confidence. Once ranked No. 1, Roddick retooled last winter in an attempt to gain on Federer, replacing coach Brad Gilbert with Dean Goldfine and amping up his conditioning program; a loss in the Australian Open semis and an early exit in Paris made a reset at Wimbledon imperative. "I'm hungry," Roddick said after his quarterfinal win over Sébastien Grosjean. "If anything this year, I've wanted it too much."

But Federer's want, if not as desperate, was just as strong. He won three Grand Slam titles last year without a coach, and it's a sign of his ambition that he then hired Tony Roche, former mentor of Ivan Lendl and Patrick Rafter, to help him make a run at all four. But then Federer squandered a match point and lost to Marat Safin in Melbourne and buckled mentally against Rafael Nadal in Paris. "Only the win [at Wimbledon] would be satisfying," Federer admitted after eliminating Nicolas Kiefer in the third round. He went on to beat baseliners Juan Carlos Ferrero and Fernando González at their own game and to bat around an oddly subdued Hewitt in Friday's semifinal, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6. For a measure of Wimbledon's increasingly slow playing surface and Federer's dominance during the last two weeks, chew on this: The game's premier grass-courter used serve-and-volley as Plan B for seven matches, resorting to it only to keep things interesting.

In the final Roddick showed off the fruit of his work over the last 12 months: improved volley, shored-up backhand, confidence coming to net. None of it helped. Federer, the man many feel could be the greatest player ever, produced "the best match I ever played," he said. It was so easy that while serving at 4-3 in the third set, Federer almost started crying for joy.

"I did everything I could," Roddick said. "I tried going to his forehand and coming in; he passed me. I tried to go to his backhand and come in; he passed me. Tried staying back; he figured out a way to pass me, even though I was at the baseline. It's not like I have a lot of questions."

Here's one: What's it like to butt one's head against the game's most impregnable talent? Jim Courier, who struggled similarly against Sampras a decade ago, said, "I think Lleyton feels like Roddick feels: 'How do I get past this guy? I'm looking for an answer, and I don't like what I see in the mirror.' Federer's absolutely the most complete player I've ever seen. When you see him in slow motion, look how loose his jaw is; he's never expending much energy to hit a shot. It's truly magic. I'd pay to see Roger play, and I would not pay to see anyone else. He's that good."

Still, the opposite of a commitment like Federer's can prove just as intriguing. The circuitous route to the top taken by Venus and Serena Williams is nothing that the Swiss star can relate to, yet he says, "I'm always happy when the Williams sisters win. I support them; I don't know why. They can lose, they can win, and they take it the same way. Maybe it's because tennis is not the biggest focus in their lives. But that they still end up winning Grand Slams is great."

What was great for Wimbledon, too, was a final weekend combining Federer and a Williams sister: the state-of-the-art player and the ultimate family drama. A year ago, the night before Serena's demolition by Sharapova in the Wimbledon final, Venus had a nightmare about the match and tried to call Serena but couldn't reach her. This year, the night before the final, Venus made sure she and her sister conversed. As Venus tells it, "She gave me a pep talk: 'You have to want this. That's how I won in Australia. I lost the first set and said it doesn't matter, I want it more. You have to want it more.' So I took all that on the court with me."

That she did. As the match progressed you could see Venus's want and need grow until it blossomed at 6-7, 15-30 in the third set, when she fought through a sprinting sideline-to-sideline 25-stroke rally that she finally took with a shrieking forehand winner. Davenport then stood doubled over on the baseline for 15 seconds, struggling to catch her breath. Venus herself stood heaving, back literally against the wall as the cheers showered down. She didn't realize that she'd just produced one of Wimbledon's great moments.

"I was just thinking, I've got to stay tougher," Venus said afterward. "I've got to stay tougher than whoever's across the net."

Whether Venus can stay hungry is, of course, a question that will be debated for the rest of the year. But Saturday wasn't about that. Saturday on Centre Court was about Venus coming back to herself and the game she once ruled, living out the mad idea that you can actually repeat the past. After her win she opened an e-mail from Serena that read, We're going to the U.S. Open finals together.

Venus yelled, "Yes!"

Who, now, would even think of telling her no?

Issue date: July 11, 2005

venus_rulez
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:22 PM
That is an excellent article, thank you for posting :).

Veenut
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:30 PM
A fantastic read!!! :D Wow Roger likes when they win too!!! :hearts: When will Tracey, Pam and the other so called "journalists" produce anything like this?

practiceboy
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:34 PM
What strikes me most was Serena's email to Venus after Venus's win. It seems like Venus really did motivate her!!! A sister-sister final at the US Open would be incredible.

auntie janie
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:35 PM
Thanks, CornellBoy. Very kind of you to post an article that we'd have to pay to see otherwise! :kiss:

lizchris
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:36 PM
A fantastic read!!! :D Wow Roger likes when they win too!!! :hearts: When will Tracey, Pam and the other so called "journalists" produce anything like this?


Probably never.

practiceboy
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:37 PM
Thanks, CornellBoy. Very kind of you to post an article that we'd have to pay to see otherwise! :kiss:

You're more than welcome!

Oneofakind0490
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:45 PM
I only read the bold part and I hope them making US Open final will happen.

AkademiQ
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:54 PM
Roger :kiss:

I can see why this was premium. Thank you for sharing it with us. Venus and Serena please keep that promise for the US Open :)

serenafan08
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:00 PM
Great stuff, CornellBoy! Looks like you're relatively new to the board, so if anyone hasn't already said so, Welcome to WTA World!! :wavey:

Marcell
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:02 PM
Serena has publicly stated that she admires Roger too.

Paneru
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:36 PM
Great stuff, CornellBoy! Looks like you're relatively new to the board, so if anyone hasn't already said so, Welcome to WTA World!! :wavey:

Yes, Welcome CornellBoy! :cool:

Great article!

pla
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:39 PM
A fantastic read!!! :D Wow Roger likes when they win too!!! :hearts: When will Tracey, Pam and the other so called "journalists" produce anything like this?

In this life if some things don't come at the right time, they will never come- brain is one of them :lol:

Cariaoke
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:45 PM
That was a damn good article! WOW!

oh Roger :hearts: :kiss: I'll love/hate you always! :lol:

CJ07
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:50 PM
if the draw allows it, I def see an all-williams final at the open.

that would be just perfect

SJW
Jul 6th, 2005, 06:07 PM
absolutely fantastic article. and now i'm gonna quote Mr Federer in my sig :)

StarDuvallGrant
Jul 6th, 2005, 07:00 PM
Article made my day :) Thank you :bigclap:

volta
Jul 6th, 2005, 07:34 PM
WOW Roger i guess that i gotta support u now ;) not when u play Nalbandian :devil:

Vee :hearts: :hearts: :hearts:

great artile thanks for posting it ^^

Jericho
Jul 6th, 2005, 07:40 PM
great article ;)

Kabezya
Jul 6th, 2005, 07:41 PM
This is a wonderful article by Mr. Price. I'm actually surprised he had it in him with his previous pieces but I when you're inspired you come up with pieces like this. I think the question on whether Serena would also be inspired has been definitively answered and I like the boldness that Serena presents. I truly appreciate Roger's words. I guess he was serious when he said Serena was his favorite female tennis player to watch.

spartanfan
Jul 6th, 2005, 08:28 PM
That is by far the best Wimbledon article on Venus' win that I've read so far. And here's to hoping that they are on opposites sides of the draw at the US Open.

PaulieM
Jul 6th, 2005, 08:42 PM
a williams final at the USO!! sounds great to me. and of course roger :hearts: wonderful as always. i was a little bit surprised the first time i heard him say serena was his favorite female player, but it's only one more reason for me to love him. :)

SJW
Jul 6th, 2005, 08:43 PM
a williams final at the USO!! sounds great to me. and of course roger :hearts: wonderful as always. i was a little bit surprised the first time i heard him say serena was his favorite female player, but it's only one more reason for me to love him. :)
OMG. Rogi said that? :eek: when?

Kabezya
Jul 6th, 2005, 08:48 PM
a williams final at the USO!! sounds great to me. and of course roger :hearts: wonderful as always. i was a little bit surprised the first time i heard him say serena was his favorite female player, but it's only one more reason for me to love him. :)

I know, wasn't that so sweet :hearts: Greatness appreciating greatness.

pcrtennis
Jul 6th, 2005, 08:58 PM
That is the best article on the Venus story I have ever read...incredible.

Sir Stefwhit
Jul 6th, 2005, 09:18 PM
What a fun read, thanks for posting!

Diesel
Jul 6th, 2005, 10:39 PM
Whether Venus can stay hungry is, of course, a question that will be debated for the rest of the year. But Saturday wasn't about that. Saturday on Centre Court was about Venus coming back to herself and the game she once ruled, living out the mad idea that you can actually repeat the past. After her win she opened an e-mail from Serena that read, We're going to the U.S. Open finals together.

Venus yelled, "Yes!"

Who, now, would even think of telling her no?


Never say never and in the Williams sisters case, never say no. I'm going to keep Serena to her words :worship: Let's go Venus and Serena, bring things back to the way they used to be!

moon
Jul 6th, 2005, 10:55 PM
My favorite part of the article was Oracene saying that this is the happiest that she has seen Venus in a long time.
Just reading that makes me feel like she is happy again. :hearts:
And that's all that counts right?

Denise4925
Jul 6th, 2005, 10:56 PM
This article had the tears streaming once again. Reliving the moment of her triumph, her family standing proud and tall together and her sisters, all but one, beside her in spirit.

I can't stop crying. :sobbing:

This statement is overwhelming.
After her win she opened an e-mail from Serena that read, We're going to the U.S. Open finals together.

Venus yelled, "Yes!"

Denise4925
Jul 6th, 2005, 10:59 PM
Yes, thanks Cornellboy :hug:

raquel
Jul 6th, 2005, 11:27 PM
Roger :hearts: If it was even possible, I like him even more now. Great to see he has a lot of respect for Venus and Serena. He and Venus looked very nice together on Sunday :)

Bright Red
Jul 6th, 2005, 11:41 PM
Bravo. Now that's how to write an article. :)

vettipooh
Jul 6th, 2005, 11:54 PM
That was like a breath of fresh air!!!! Thank you so much, Cornellboy, and welcome aboard!!!

whitecamero
Jul 7th, 2005, 12:02 AM
So great to read, didn't want it to end. Makes me admire my three faves: Venus, Serena and Roger even more now! Thanks Cornellboy. :)

StarDuvallGrant
Jul 7th, 2005, 02:30 AM
Welcome to the board CornellBoy :)

cartmancop
Jul 7th, 2005, 02:44 AM
Great article... Thanks for posting:)

Infiniti2001
Jul 7th, 2005, 02:51 AM
The CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, Larry Scott, made sure to find Richard Williams to say how much Venus's return will help the sport.

WOW lovely article!! Hope Julia read the above carefully :lol: According to her the WTA can survive without the Williames.

mykarma
Jul 7th, 2005, 03:01 AM
This article had the tears streaming once again. Reliving the moment of her triumph, her family standing proud and tall together and her sisters, all but one, beside her in spirit.

I can't stop crying. :sobbing: CHUMP! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


This statement is overwhelming.
After her win she opened an e-mail from Serena that read, We're going to the U.S. Open finals together.

Venus yelled, "Yes!"
Hey Girl! She's Baaack!

RVD
Jul 7th, 2005, 03:53 AM
http://deephousepage.com/smilies/welcome.gifCornellboy!
And thank you very much for that superb article. I can't remember the last time such a well-written article contained both Venus and Serena in it. Not only that, but the icing on the cake is that quote by the best male player today, Roger.

It would be great if either Venus or Serena played mix-doubles with Roger. Better yet, since Venus already has a worthy partner, maybe the US Open would look like this... Venus Williams/Mark Knowles vs Serena Williams/Roger Federer! :bounce:
Now that's a SCARY PROSPECT! :scared:

Denise4925
Jul 7th, 2005, 04:05 AM
Hey Girl! She's Baaack!
She must have deleted it already, because I didn't even see it. :lol:

RenaSlam.
Jul 7th, 2005, 02:41 PM
What a tremendous champion and more importantly, a tremendous family.

HAIL WILLIAMS!

Williams Rulez
Jul 7th, 2005, 03:02 PM
lovely article! :)

"Capable at times of wearing half a jewelry box on court, she went into the final without earrings, her head and body free of all distractions"

"Sharapova needed to win to justify her presence on seemingly every bus stop and billboard in London." :lol: too funny!

TomTennis
Jul 7th, 2005, 03:49 PM
fantastic!

servenrichie
Jul 7th, 2005, 09:06 PM
Not suprised. I have been checking for a detailed Price article on Venus' Wimbledon run and I was not disappointed. For those of you, who dont know this guy, dig up some of his archives, when V & S started making it big and you will enjoy every bit of it. He is by far my most favorite tennis journalist:worship:

Denise4925
Jul 7th, 2005, 09:25 PM
Not suprised. I have been checking for a detailed Price article on Venus' Wimbledon run and I was not disappointed. For those of you, who dont know this guy, dig up some of his archives, when V & S started making it big and you will enjoy every bit of it. He is by far my most favorite tennis journalist:worship:
Thanks serven, will do. :yeah:

DA FOREHAND
Jul 7th, 2005, 09:29 PM
You're more than welcome!


Thanks

Do you play tennis? Where? Im in dc too.

icequeen
Jul 7th, 2005, 11:57 PM
Not suprised. I have been checking for a detailed Price article on Venus' Wimbledon run and I was not disappointed. For those of you, who dont know this guy, dig up some of his archives, when V & S started making it big and you will enjoy every bit of it. He is by far my most favorite tennis journalist:worship:

I wonder if he's related to Orcene?

tennisbum79
Jul 8th, 2005, 12:02 AM
...
After her win she opened an e-mail from Serena that read, We're going to the U.S. Open finals together.

Venus yelled, "Yes!"

There is something special between these 2 sisters.
I must confess, I always thought that Venus gave more than she was receiving from Serena. But this article clearly shows that Serena's support and input are very important to Venus. True Venus can get pep talk from mother and father, but nothing can replace a pep talk from someone who has been there . And if that someone is your kid sister, it is even more motivating.

Denise4925
Jul 8th, 2005, 01:46 AM
There is something special between these 2 sisters.
I must confess, I always thought that Venus gave more than she was receiving from Serena. But this article clearly shows that Serena's support and input are very important to Venus. True Venus can get pep talk from mother and father, but nothing can replace a pep talk from someone who has been there . And if that someone is your kid sister, it is even more motivating.
See, I told you tennisbum. ;)

tennisbum79
Jul 8th, 2005, 03:33 AM
See, I told you tennisbum. ;)

My bad. You are correct.
It is no accident that you have both names in your signature.
This small but powerful episode, has given me a different perspective on Serena. :)
Thank you Denise4925

Denise4925
Jul 8th, 2005, 03:52 AM
My bad. You are correct.
It is no accident that you have both names in your signature.
This small but powerful episode, has given me a different perspective on Serena. :)
Thank you Denise4925
I don't know for what, but you are very welcome, sweetie. :hug: