— A jubilant Venus Williams defeated Lindsay Davenport in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) at Wimbledon, becoming the first black woman Wimbledon champion since Althea Gibson won back-to-back titles in 1957-58.
When Davenport’s forehand landed in the net on second championship point, Williams celebrated her first Grand Slam title with a jump and a scream before scampering off the court and through the stands to hug her father and coach, Richard, and little sister, Serena, who were in the family box.
A beaming Richard Williams held a sign that read, “It’s Venus’ party and no one was invited.”
Indeed, Centre Court was center stage for Venus Williams, whose ascent to the Wimbledon final was the top story of the tournament. Her win gives the Williams family two Grand Slam titles: Serena is the 1999 U.S. Open champion.
It’s the first time in tennis history that two sisters have each won a Grand Slam.
The fifth-seeded Williams showed great athleticism and excellent pacing to win her first Grand Slam title, while Davenport, the No. 2 seed and defending Wimbledon champion, was denied in her bid to win her fourth title.
Williams received the appropriately named Venus Rosewater Dish, the sterling silver plate that goes to the women’s champion. She also earned $650,000 for the victory, while Davenport received $325,000.
Upon receiving the championship plate, Williams said with a laugh, “I used to go to bed at night dreaming about winning a Grand Slam, and when I'd wake up, it’s a nightmare. Now I know I won’t have to wake up like that anymore.”
Admiring the plate she said, “It is better than the men’s cup, in my opinion.”
Williams Varies her Game to Win
Both players showed early nerves and were broken in their first service games after the start was delayed 30 minutes by light rain.
Williams won the first set 6-3, banking on a blistering serve and strategically placed shots that left Davenport chasing balls all over the court. Known for her powerful groundstrokes, Williams varied her game during the match and repeatedly hit light dropped shots for winners.
Williams went up 3-1 in the first set with powerful backhands that proved too much for the slower Davenport, who played with her left thigh bandaged. The set took just 32 minutes with Davenport hitting a forehand long to give Williams, who earlier had wasted two set points, the final point.
Davenport, down 5-3 in the second set, found her groove and broke Williams’ serve to even the set at five games a piece. But Williams, a child tennis prodigy from Compton, Calif., held on to force the tiebreaker, which she won 7-3.
At 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-1, respectively, Davenport and Williams were the tallest two women to reach a Wimbledon final. It also was the first all-American women’s final at the All England Club in 10 years, since Martina Navratilova beat Zina Garrison in 1990.
Williams advanced to the final by beating her little sister Serena in straight sets Thursday in one of the most highly anticipated matches on the women’s tour recently.
Davenport won her six tournament matches without much fanfare, and earned a return trip to the final by defeating 17-year-old Jelena Dokic, also in straight sets on Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.