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Venus pads Hall credentials

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - A recently-overlooked Venus Ebony Starr Williams added to her Hall of Fame credentials last week by capturing her fourth Wimbledon and sixth major title.

The former world No. 1 Venus often has her spotlight stolen by her younger (and more talented) sister Serena, but the 27-year-old Venus pulled within two Grand Slam singles titles of Serena by securing her fourth Wimbledon championship in eight years when she got past upstart Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli in last week's finale at the storied All England Club.

Aside from Bartoli, some of Venus' other victims at the AEC were French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic in the semis, fellow former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarters and reigning U.S. Open champ and Aussie Open runner-up Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, this after she almost lost to little-known Russian Alla Kudryavtseva in the opening round and okay Japanese Akiko Morigami in the third. She won both of those matches by taking third sets at 7-5.

Venus, who turned pro 13 long years ago, has now appeared in 12 Grand Slam finals, going an even 6-6. She lost to Serena in back-to-back Wimbledon finales in 2002 and 2003, also gave way to her little sis in the '02 U.S. and French Open finals and succumbed to Serena in the '03 Aussie finale.
Venus Williams
Venus Williams is 6-6 in her career Grand Slam finals.
Venus is actually a weak 1-5 versus her younger sister in major finals, with her lone victory coming at the '01 U.S. Open.

So just imagine how many major titles Venus might have if she was the only professional tennis player in her family. Maybe her six Grand Slam tourney wins would be as high as 11, which would equal the tally currently held by the ever-growing legend that is Roger Federer, who notched a men's Open Era- record-tying fifth straight Wimbledon title last week.

As a matter of fact, the last time Venus lost in a Grand Slam final to someone not named Serena was 10 long years ago against Martina Hingis in New York.

Venus and Serena have, however, combined for six major doubles titles. Venus also owns two mixed doubles majors, giving her a combined 14 Grand Slam event championships. The mixed crowns came alongside fellow American Justin Gimelstob, with one of the victories coming against a tandem of Luis Lobo (who?) and...Serena.

FYI: Although Venus is a former No. 1, did you know that she has never finished as a year-end No. 1? She placed inside the year-end top five from 1998-2002, with her best-ever showing resulting in a No. 2 finish in '02. She's placed inside the year-end top 10 in seven out of the last nine campaigns.

Venus, who holds the record for the fastest serve ever recorded in a women's main draw match (128.8 mph), is currently 17th in the world, as she moved up 14 spots from No. 31 by virtue of her most recent Wimbledon success. The 6- foot-1 American star is now a stellar 51-7 lifetime at the Big W.

Only four women have won at least four Wimbledon titles over the last 40 years, and they (legends mostly) are Martina Navratilova (9), Steffi Graf (7), Billie Jean King (6) and Venus.

Tennis company doesn't get much better than that!

And thanks mostly to Venus, the U.S. has produced seven of the last nine women's Wimbledon champions. Prior to this current hot stretch, the tournament had a 17-year streak of non-American-born titlists.

Wow.

The California native/Florida resident Venus' prize money also eclipsed the $17 million mark as a result of her $1.4 million windfall at the AEC. And the prestigious title marked her 35th championship on the WTA Tour, which is good enough for 11th on the all-time list. Navratilova is the all-time leader with a mind-boggling 167 singles titles on the ladies' circuit.

Belgian stud Justine Henin is right on Venus' heels with 34 wins, including (just like Venus) six majors.

FYI, Venus is currently dating professional golfer Hank Kuehne, who owns zero major titles.

Ace or double fault? Send your comments to Scott Riley at sriley@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Riley


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