STOWE, Vt. -- One week after winning her fourth Wimbledon
title, Venus Williams returned home to win another big match for
herself, her sister Serena and her country.
But it wasn't easy.
Williams overcame a terrible second set to beat Nadia Petrova in
the semifinals 7-6, 0-6, 6-4 on Saturday to tie the Fed Cup match
between the United States and Russia at 1.
Earlier Saturday, Anna Chakvetadze gave Russia a lead by
dominating Vania King 6-1, 6-3.
Williams will play Chakvetadze and U.S. Capt. Zina Garrison said
she is leaning toward sending Meilen Tu against Petrova in the
reverse singles Sunday. If necessary, a deciding doubles match will
The winner meets the winner of the other semifinals between
Italy and France for the championship in September.
The win "takes a lot of pressure off my teammates," Williams
said. With no other player on the team ranked higher than the
43rd-ranked Tu, Williams was being counted on to win two matches.
Venus jumped from 31 to 17 after her Wimbledon victory.
She said her sister wanted to play but had to pull out because
of an injury.
"I told her, 'You're not playing,' so I'm playing for me, for
her and for the U.S," she said.
Williams fell behind 3-0 and 5-2 in the first set against the
9th-ranked player in the world.
She held serve for 5-3, then broke the Russian and finally
pulled even by winning serve in the 10th game at love.
Facing three set points in the tiebreaker, Williams answered by
winning the next five points. First came a service winner, then
Petrova hit a backhand into the net after a long rally, and her
long forehand made it 6-6.
Petrova then double-faulted, and finally hit another long
forehand, and angrily slammed a ball after the point.
Williams said getting blanked in the second set was an emotional
"Even a bit in the beginning of the third, it was really
frustrating when I was missing," Williams said.
She fell behind 0-40 in the first game of the third set before
pulling out the game.
After Petrova broke her for a 4-3 lead, Williams broke back when
Petrova double-faulted for the sixth time at deuce and Williams won
the next point for 4-4.
Williams then won serve at love, and lost only one point to
break Petrova and end the match.
Despite being down so often, Williams said she was never
"I was not tight. I think it was more for her," she said.
"But after all the matches I played at Wimbledon, that stress
level, I don't get nervous any more," she said, laughing.
King was no match for Chatkvetadze, who never faced a break
point. King managed to hold serve only four times, scattering
forehands and missing on volleys throughout.
"I think I didn't start off very well. I think I started
playing better and better toward the end," King said. "But you
know, she didn't really give me anything."
King, ranked 84th, was a late replacement to play after Serena
Williams, who withdrew with an injury. Garrison picked King over
Tu, who only joined the team this week.
The U.S. has dominated this series with 17 championships since
it began in 1963, but has not won since 2000. Russia, which has
become a dominant force in women's tennis, won in 2004 and 2005.