Saturday, July 07, 2007

WIMBLEDON 2007: Ladies' Final (and Semifinal) Review

Venus Williams USA (23) d. 6-4, 6-1 Justine Henin BEL (1) Marion Bartoli FRA (18) . In one of the most shocking upsets of the year, and possibly the decade so far, yesterday unheralded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli came back from down losing the first set 1-6 to defeat 6-time Grand Sam champion and 2-time Wimbledon finalist Justine Henin, the top seed, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 to reach her first major final. Venus continued her astonishingly consistent and aggressive play to defeat 2007 Roland Garros finalist Ana Ivanovic (who will enter the top 5 in the WTA rankings on Monday) relatively easily 6-2, 6-4 in the other Wimbledon semifinal.

However, on Saturday Venus Williams broke her own record from 2005 by becoming the lowest seeded player (#14 in 2005, #23 in 2007) to win her 4th Wimbledon Ladies' singles title, 50 years after Althea Gibson became the first African American tennis player to win a major title. Williams won her 6th major title over-all and joined the elite players of the game, Martina Navratilova (9), Steffi Graf (7) and Billie Jean King (4) who have won (at least) 4 Wimbledon titles.

Marion Bartoli played well and proved herself a fearsome competitor, with a powerful, unorthodox game (two handed on both sides). She takes the ball very early and finds very difficult angles, a la Monica Seles. However, Venus played better, with 29 winners to Bartoli's 7 (Venus was running down everything). Venus had a mere 12 unforced errors (a very low total for her in 17 games played) to 9 errors for the Frenchwoman. If Venus can play like this on other surfaces, or even again at Wimbledon, there's no reason why she can't catch up to her sister Serena's total of 8 Grand Slam titles (3 Australian, 1 French, 2 Wimbledon, 2 US Opens).

There were some interesting quotes in the Los Angeles Times (formerly Venus' hometown newspaper) article covering the story:
"It has been a long road back," Williams said during the trophy ceremony. "I brought it together here against some of the best players in the world, including Marion."

She lost 22 games in her final four matches, beating 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova on Wednesday, 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on Thursday and French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic on Friday.

"She loves the grass," said Williams' boyfriend, pro golfer Hank Kuehne. "And she loves the environment here."

Her father and coach, Richard, said that when his daughter was about 9, she declared she wanted to win Wimbledon more than anyone else.

"I think she can win three more," he said, "and I would be disappointed if she did not."


Williams' resurgence was reminiscent of the run to this year's Australian Open title by her sister Serena, who entered that tournament ranked 81st. Venus expressed gratitude to her sister -- among others -- during the trophy ceremony.

"Serena, she inspires me," Venus said. "The Australian Open champion -- I wanted to be like her."

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin