Sharapova dominates Serena in final

Updated: July 4, 2004, 3:57 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

WIMBLEDON, England -- Teenager Maria Sharapova stunned defending champion Serena Williams 6-1, 6-4 in the final Saturday to become the first Russian to win a Wimbledon singles title.

Sharapova, 17, also became only the second Russian woman to win a Grand Slam title, less than a month after Anastasia Myskina became the first in winning the French Open.

In the Open era, only Martina Hingis was younger than Sharapova when she won the women's singles title here. The Swiss was 16 when she beat Jana Novotna in 1997.

After Williams hit a forehand into the net to end the 73-minute match, Sharapova dropped to her knees at the baseline and covered her face with her hands. She raised her arms and walked to the net, where Williams greeted her warmly.

Sharapova pumped her fists, whacked a ball into the stands and climbed into the guest box to hug her father, Yuri. She pulled out a cell phone and tried to call her mother but couldn't get through.

In accepting the winner's trophy -- the Venus Rosewater dish -- from the Duke of Kent, Sharapova said, "I want to cut up this trophy and give it to everybody, this whole crowd."

Turning to Williams, Sharapova said, "I have to take this trophy from you for one year. I'm sorry. ... I'm sure we're going to be here one more time and hopefully many more times in other Grand Slams and fight for the trophy. Thank you for giving me a tough match but I'm sorry I had to win today."

A gracious Williams told the Centre Court, "It wasn't my day. Maria played a really good match. Congratulations on your first Grand Slam."

Williams, 22, was seeking her third successive Wimbledon singles crown but she was unable to cope with the brute force of Sharapova's groundstrokes and ended up suffering the most lopsided loss in a Wimbledon women's final in a dozen years. Williams was 6-1 in Slam finals and last lost this soundly in March 2000.

Playing in her first Grand Slam final, Sharapova showed no early nerves and drew first blood by breaking the defending champion's serve to lead 3-1 after Williams ballooned a backhand long.

Sharapova broke again for 5-1 with a searing backhand winner and kept her composure to take the first set on her fourth set point when Williams netted a forehand service return.

The 13th seed maintained her momentum at the start of the second set and a shell-shocked Williams was struck on the nose by the ball after one particularly venomous groundstroke from the Siberian.

With both players troubled by the gusty wind, Williams thought she had wrested away the initiative when she broke for 4-2 but Sharapova defiantly broke straight back.

In an epic ninth game, Williams grittily saved three set points but Sharapova secured the decisive break when Williams slipped and hooked a forehand out.

The fearless Sharapova then completed an astonishing victory on her second match point when Williams netted a forehand. Sharapova greeted her triumph by collapsing to her knees in tears in disbelief.

"At 17, to have that ability already, it's pretty amazing," said Andy Roddick, who will play for the men's title Sunday. "But it's almost like she expects it. There's something inside her that's pretty impressive."

Sharapova kept Williams on the defensive throughout, hitting 17 winners and committing only 11 errors.

Her victory is the first for a non-American in the women's final since Czech Novotna in 1998, which is also the last year neither Venus Williams nor her sister held one of the four Grand Slam titles between them.

In halting Williams' bid to become only the third woman in 35 years to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles, Sharapova also ended the Williams sisters' four-year hold on the trophy.

The second youngest champion since 15-year-old Lottie Dod, who won 117 years ago, Sharapova was born in Siberia and moved at age 7 to Florida, where she joined Nick Bollettieri's tennis academy.

The 6-foot blonde has a modeling contract, drawing comparisons to Anna Kournikova but, unlike Kournikova, she's a winner on the court, having captured three tour titles coming into Wimbledon.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.

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