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Comeback complete, championship sweet



Published: Sat, July 2, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Venus Williams topped Lindsay Davenport to become the lowest-seeded champion in history.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Venus Williams mounted one last comeback, capping her career revival by winning another Wimbledon title.

Williams overcame an early deficit and a championship point Saturday to beat top-ranked Lindsay Davenport 4-6, 7-6 (4), 9-7 for her fifth major title and her first in nearly four years.

At 2 hours, 45 minutes, the women's final was the longest on record at Wimbledon. Williams became the first woman since 1935 to win the title after facing a match point in the final.

"I just spent so much time behind," Williams said. "The only time I think I was in front was when I won the match."

Happy champion

When Davenport hit a forehand into the net on the last point, Williams raised both fists and grinned. After the players hugged, Williams hopped, sank to her knees and patted the grass. Then she rose and hopped some more, laughing all the while.

"I could have jumped for a lot longer," Williams said with a laugh two hours after her victory. "I was just so excited. I can't help myself when I get excited. I show it all."

In the postmatch ceremony, Williams was presented with the championship trophy that coincidentally bears her first name -- the Venus Rosewater Dish. She also won Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001, and was runner-up to sister Serena in 2002 and 2003.

Long third set

The Williams-Davenport match peaked with the longest third set in a Wimbledon women's final since Louise Brough beat Margaret Osborne duPont 10-8, 1-6, 10-8 in 1949, and it was full of suspense.

Davenport's back tightened and bothered her for several games midway through the set, and she required treatment from a trainer when ahead 4-3. She reached championship point leading 5-4 and receiving serve, but Williams kept the match alive with a backhand winner, then hit another to win the game for 5-all.

Both players held to 7-all. One rally lasted 25 strokes, by far the longest of the match, with both players running side to side and slugging shots into the corners.

Williams earned three break points in the next game and converted the third, hitting a forehand winner to close a 14-shot rally.

She won the first three points of the next game to reach championship point. After belting a backhand winner for 40-love, she pumped both fists and gritted her teeth, then finished the job two points later.

"Every time the chips were down for Venus, she played unbelievable," said Davenport, who declined to blame her stiff back as a factor in the defeat. "I thought I played really well and I thought I had a lot of chances, and I feel like she never let me take advantage of those chances."

Six for six

With Williams' victory, six women have won the past six major titles. She snapped a streak of losses in her past five Grand Slam finals, all against her sister.

At No. 14, she became the lowest-seeded women's champion, surpassing 2004 champion Maria Sharapova, who was seeded 13th. Williams beat Sharapova in the semifinals.

Davenport, who was mulling retirement at this time last year, has staged a career comeback of her own, and was seeking her first major title since 2000. Instead she's a two-time Grand Slam runner-up this year -- she lost the Australian Open final in January to Serena Williams.

Williams won despite 10 double-faults and some shaky early play, and hit 49 winners to 30 for Davenport, who converted only four of 12 break-point chances.

Williams earned $1,062,000 and Davenport $531,000.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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