- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2000

Even by the standards of Wimbledon, the millennial tournament at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was one for the ages.

Overcoming throbbing tendinitis in his leg on Sunday, Pete Sampras, the soon-to-be-29-year-old star fought off a stellar challenge from Australian Patrick Rafter to break Roy Emerson's 33-year-old record of 12 Grand Slam titles. In the last eight years, Sampras has won the Wimbledon singles trophy seven times, tying a record that William Renshaw set more than 120 years ago. In addition to his Wimbledon trophies, Sampras has captured four U.S. Open titles and two Australian Opens. The day after Sampras achieved his 13th Grand Slam singles title Emerson proclaimed him "the greatest of all time."

On Saturday, Venus Williams, the sinewy 20-year-old, 6-foot-1-inch power player whose father taught her and her sister the game of tennis on the city-owned hard courts of gang-infested Compton, Calif., captured her first Grand Slam singles title by defeating defending Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport in straight sets. Two days before, after having already dispatched top-seeded and No. 1 world-ranked women's tennis player Martina Hingis, Venus defeated her 18-year-old sister, Serena, who had won last year's U.S. Open. Thursday's match between the third-seeded Venus and eighth-seeded Serena represented the first time in more than a century that such highly seeded sisters met each other in a Grand Slam tournament. With Venus' Wimbledon title, the Williams women have now become the first sisters in tennis history to have won a Grand Slam singles title. Yesterday they added to their superlatives by becoming the first sisters in Wimbledon history to win a doubles championship.

Contemplating the finals match between Venus and Davenport, who owned a 9-3 career record over the elder Williams daughter, Richard Williams was as loquacious and audacious as ever. "It's Venus' party she didn't invite Lindsay to it," said the 58-year-old Williams, who had to teach himself to play tennis before he could teach his daughters, adding this accurate prediction: "Lindsay will get the same whipping Serena got."

In Wimbledon's aftermath, Venus and Serena will be ranked No. 3 and No. 7 in the world, respectively, prompting speculation about how long it will be before they meet each other in a Grand Slam finals. After advancing so far from the days of hitting a shopping-cart load of balls to their doting, coaching father, it is breathtaking to contemplate how much farther these remarkable athletes could still go.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide