LONDON - For the eighth time in the last decade, the Wimbledon women's trophy will be lifted by one of the Williams sisters. The Williams sisters are back in the final again, Venus for the eighth time and Serena for the fifth, and it will be the fourth Williams vs Williams final at the All England Club and eighth in a Grand Slam title match
Despite 128 players starting out in the first round last week, the two Americans are once again left to contest the final for the second successive year and for the eighth time in a Grand Slam final. Venus won last year to clinch her fifth Wimbledon title and a seventh major; Serena was the champion in 2002 and 2003 and has captured 10 Grand Slam trophies in all.
Despite the success, Russia's Dinara Safina, still without a major, and who was humiliated 6-1, 6-0 by Venus in the most one-sided Wimbledon semifinal in 40 years on Thursday, remains a contentious world number one. The sisters, who are level 10-10 in career meetings, are desperate to put the controversy over rankings to one side and put on a competitive Centre Court showpiece.
"I think women's tennis is fantastic. I would never be down on it. I happen to have enormous respect for Dinara," said Venus after her 51-minute demolition of the Russian. "I'm not the number one seed so I shouldn't be expected to win but I have more experience playing on grass courts."
Venus, bidding to win a hat-trick of Wimbledon singles titles, is more concerned about quelling the competitive instincts of her sister who saved a match point in her three-set semifinal win over Elena Dementieva. At 2 hours and 49 minutes, it was the longest women's semifinal in history. Venus recalled the first time she witnessed Serena's battling qualities when she was still a rookie on the tour back in 1998.
"We were playing in Sydney at White City and she was playing Lindsay Davenport. She was down 1-6, 2-5 and I'll never forget that she came back and won," said Venus. "It was so intense. I just learned so much from that, her fight. I think that actually had a huge impression on my career, that one incident."
As always the final will be closely scrutinized for its competitive edge. Last year, Dementieva, who had been defeated by Venus in the semifinal, appeared to suggest that the winner would be a "family decision" although she quickly corrected herself, claiming her remarks had been misinterpreted.
Venus won a closely-fought final here in 2008 and the sisters have served up two three-setters since, in Dubai and Miami.
"I'm happy for Serena to be in the final, but I have to face her and defeat her. I don't necessarily want her to lose, but for sure I want me to win," said the defending champion.
"Maybe that doesn't make sense. But when I'm playing someone else, I want them to lose. I don't like to ever see her disappointed in any way. But at the same time, I don't want to see myself disappointed. I need to get my titles, too." Serena says the final is another step on their journey to fame and fortune which began in the tough Los Angeles neighbourhood of Compton.
"The more we play, the better it gets. When we play our match on Saturday it's for everything," said the world number two. "This is what we dreamed of when we were growing up in Compton 20 something years ago. This is what we worked for, and this is what we want."