Friday, August 29
Venus was playing the best

Special to ESPN.com

WIMBLEDON, England -- There's been a brief pause in the Williams sisters' run.

The French Open had the all-Belgian final. Venus, with only one title this year, hasn't exactly dominated the tour. Serena lost her perfect year in Miami. Now, people are realizing that a dominant run is never far from ending. Obviously, the Williams sisters want to extend their dominance, but it has become much tougher than anyone thought it would be six months ago.

Pam's Picks
Pam Shriver
Shriver
Former WTA Tour pro Pam Shriver is providing ESPN.com with in-depth analysis throughout Wimbledon. Shriver, a tennis analyst for ESPN, was ranked as high as No. 3 in singles play. She won 21 singles and 112 doubles crowns, including 22 Grand Slam titles.

That being said, clearly the two best players are in the final of Wimbledon. That was not the case at the French Open, when the two best players -- Serena and Justine Henin-Hardenne -- played in the semifinals.

Serena handled all of the pre-match intrigue before her semifinal here with Henin-Hardenne. With talk of the French Open and its related crowd stories and Henin-Hardenne's hand hold-up denial still fresh, Serena responded as well as you can respond.

Aside from one minor three-game hiccup, she played as complete a match from start to finish as you can play. Serena captured just the right amount of emotion. She didn't go overboard; rather, she used her emotions to drive her through the match. So not only was she hitting her strokes well, but she also used the intangibles to overcome Henin-Hardenne. That's never an easy combination to achieve, especially in such a big match.

For the first time ever, Venus learned that she can play through injury and win a big match. That's important for an athlete to find out. There are times when you cannot be at your best and still win. But can she do it against her sister -- in the final?

Before aggravating her abdominal injury, Venus was playing as well or better than anyone. Will she be able to call on her big serve to earn her easy points and hit her big overhand freely with the injury? It's a tougher problem to beat Serena while injured than Kim Clijsters, who doesn't have full belief that she can win.

Venus will get lots of help to get the stomach as healthy as possible. I'm sure she's happy she doesn't have to play doubles.

Without the stomach pull, I'd give the slight edge to Venus, but now, I think Serena will win her sixth major championship and second straight Wimbledon title.