Wednesday, September 27|
Add gold to Venus collection
SYDNEY, Australia -- Even in celebration, Venus Williams is
a captivating force on a tennis court.
This time the jubilant champion thrust her arms skyward, bowed
and twirled happily at the net. Then she borrowed an American flag
from the stands and gave it a wave.
A sellout crowd cheered, and with good reason. Williams beat
18-year-old Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-4 Wednesday (Tuesday night EDT)
to win an Olympic gold medal.
The victory extended Williams' winning streak to 32 matches, and
she became only the second player to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open
and the Olympics in the same year. Steffi Graf did it in 1988.
"I was ready to go out and take it and not just hope somebody
gave it to me," Williams said. "I guess I've graduated to a
different level where I can be like some of the greats."
Williams will try for her second gold when she and sister Serena
play in the doubles final Thursday (Wednesday night EDT) against
Kristie Boogert and Miriam Oremans of the Netherlands.
Williams is unbeaten since losing at the French Open in early
June, and her winning streak is the longest since Martina Hingis
won 37 consecutive matches in 1997. Martina Navratilova set the
record of 74 victories in a row in 1984.
Like other opponents, Dementieva couldn't cope with Williams'
power. In the sixth game, the Russian barely avoided getting hit in
the face by a second-serve ace.
"I wasn't ready for the second serve," Dementieva said. "It
was like a first serve."
Williams wowed a crowd that included her sister, their mother,
U.S. teammate and bronze medalist Monica Seles, coach Billie Jean
King and members of the U.S. swim team.
Even Williams was a bit overwhelmed by the performance. When she
received her medal, she beamed and covered her face with her hands.
"I felt really emotional," she said. "You see it on TV. It
was really great. It was me."
Seles won the bronze Tuesday. The U.S. team lost a chance at a
singles sweep when defending champion Lindsay Davenport withdrew
because of a foot injury following her first-round victory.
"That was tough," Williams said. "Potentially, it could have
been all three of us standing there in any order."
Arnaud Di Pasquale became the first Frenchman since 1924 to win
a tennis medal by beating Roger Federer of Switzerland 7-6 (5), 6-7
(7), 6-3 for the bronze Wednesday.
Defending champions Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, playing
their last match together, settled for a silver in men's doubles.
Sebastien Lareau and Daniel Nestor of Canada beat the Australians
for the gold, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
Spaniards Alex Corretja and Albert Costa won the bronze in men's
doubles, beating South Africans David Adams and John-Laffnie de
Jager 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
The 10th-seeded Dementieva, who reached the semifinals at the
U.S. Open earlier this month, started well against the
second-seeded Williams. The Russian won the first game and had a
point to up 2-1.
Then Williams won 15 of the next 18 points for a 5-1 lead. The
serving inconsistency that plagued her earlier in the tournament
was gone, and her laser groundstroke winners drew repeated gasps of
appreciation from the crowd. Once even Dementieva nodded in
"It was difficult to play against her," Dementieva said. "She
played very well. She's very strong."
Williams wavered after taking a 5-2 lead in the second set,
losing her serve for the third time in the set. She double-faulted
on the first championship point, but Dementieva then hit a backhand
wide to give Williams another victory.
|Venus Williams won her 32nd straight match, and the American star received her first gold medal.|
Williams sisters keep on rolling