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Venus Williams clinches first WTA championships

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-10

Venus Williams defeated Russia's Vera Zvonareva in three sets on Sunday to win the season-ending WTA Championships for the first time, capping a year marked by victories at Wimbledon and the Zurich Masters.

Venus Williams can look forward to next year with optimism after winning the season-ending WTA Championships to become the first American to win the event since sister Serena in 2001.

Williams' 6-7 (5/7), 6-0, 6-2 final win over Vera Zvonareva, the week's surprise packet in this eight-women event, proved that she is still a major force on surfaces other than grass.

Although the five-times Wimbledon champion was often not at her best on Sunday, and sometimes laboured to impose her heavy game on her opponent, there was no doubting her fight or her ability to figure out a way to win.

She also proved to have the greater stamina because well before the end Zvonareva, who has clocked up 27 matches since the US Open and played eight tournaments in nine weeks, was spent.

Near the end she collapsed on the ground and burst into sobbing, apparently because of the exhaustion which was diminishing her brilliantly rhythmic ground strokes.

"It was a hard fought match right down to the end," reckoned Williams, though that hardly looked the case. "I am so excited. I wanted it so bad."

Asked how she recovered from her first set setback, when she had a long lead in the tie-break only to lose it and then lose the set on an unlucky net cord, Williams said: "That's tennis.

"Sometimes it goes your way and then all of a sudden in comes crashing down. It's been a pretty good year for me. Next year I hope I can stay healthy and I can go higher," added Venus, who will finish the year as world number six. Zvonareva will be seven, her highest ever.

"I think I could have done better but I had a great time with five matches against top ten players," the Russian said.

"It's the first time I have played so many matches in a row against top ten players and so that was pretty good."

Her 715,000 dollars pay day was by far her biggest, while Williams' 1,340,000 first prize takes her into fourth place in the list all-time highest money earners, overtaking Martina Navratilova.

Date created : 2008-11-09