- Kamakshi Tandon
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Need the inside scoop on all the latest news, results and gossip during the 2009 Wimbledon Championships? Our fearless blogger Kamakshi Tandon is on hand to fill you in on all the happenings every day. Don't hesitate to ask your questions.
11:05 a.m. ET: Now Serena is walking around with the trophy, letting the fans take their pictures. Venus waits at her chair, and then it's back inside as Venus presumably goes to the locker room and Serena (still holding the trophy) is led off to give some TV interviews.
In typical Wimbledon efficiency, Serena's name is already on the honor roll as this year's champion, her third title at the All England Club and 11th Grand Slam overall. She's now holding three of the four Grand Slams and is unquestionably the pre-eminent player in the women's game at the moment.
Final stats -- 25 winners and 12 unforced errors for Serena, and 14 and 18 for Venus. The big difference is points won on serve, with Serena at 94 percent (first serve) and 71 percent (second serve). Venus was at 70/56. Those latter numbers for Venus really fell toward the end.
The sisters will be back out on Centre Court later today to try to win the doubles title for the second straight year, and I'll be back Sunday with the men's final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. See you then.
10:53 a.m. ET: The two sisters hug at net, and soon after there's Venus with a small smile as she gets the runner-up trophy and Serena with a beaming smile as she holds up the winner's plate.
Here are some snippets from their on-court interview with the BBC's Sue Barker.
"Today she was too good. She had an answer for everything. She played the best tennis today, so congratulations," said Venus. "I don't think the loss has set in yet. I'm still smiling. ... But I've had so many great times, so I'll be back next year."
"I feel so amazing, I'm so blessed," said Serena. "I feel like I'm holding Venus' trophy."
10:41 a.m. ET: Drama here at 2-5:
Venus makes a poor start to take Serena to break point and match point at 30-40 but saves herself with a decent second serve that Serena just misses. Serena wins a long baseline rally to reach another match point, but inexplicably doesn't pull the trigger when she gets a short forehand and ends up losing the point.
A backhand winner from Venus takes her to game point, but then Serena does find a good forehand and it's back to deuce. Another Venus error, another match point for Serena. Venus saves it with a big overhead that Serena actually reaches but can't put back.
A third match point for Serena off another Venus error -- but this time Venus can't recover and Serena sinks to her knees, the new Wimbledon champion.
10:37 a.m. ET: There was a huge buzz on the changeover as the spectators ponder Venus' sudden collapse. Her serve has gone off, she's not digging into the rallies, and you have to wonder if that knee is bothering her.
10:35 a.m. ET: One of the advantages of keeping the final in the family is that the Williamses get the whole Centre Court players' box to themselves. But it's a lot emptier today as Richard Williams and his new wife have gone home. Papa Williams never stays for the girls' final, saying his work is done.
While the box is conflicted, it's interesting to note that a lot of the crowd seem to have definite rooting interests. A "Go Venus!" from someone near me early in the match set off a ripple of various "Go Venus!" and "Go Serena!" cheers around the stadium.
No sign of the jokester who likes to yell "Go Serenus!"
10:29 a.m. ET: Just after I write that, Venus suddenly can't find a first serve and then double-faults on break point to give Serena a 4-2 lead. If Serena keeps serving like she has been, this could now be over quickly.
10:24 a.m. ET: Still no break points in this set as Serena holds for 3-2. Venus has won 8 of 50 points on the return, and Serena 13 of 50.
10:19 a.m. ET: Many of us were struck by how hard Serena took her loss to Venus in the final last year, reacting much like she would after a loss to any other player.
Venus, who played the role of Serena's protector during their childhood, has always seemed more affected by the sibling connection, and it's often considered part of the reason why she's lost five of the seven Grand Slam finals the sisters have played against each other.
Venus gave a thoughtful reply the other day when asked about the difference between reaching a Grand Slam final against her sister versus any other player:
"It is different because I'm happy for her to be in the final, but I have to face her and defeat her. I don't necessarily want her to lose, but for sure I want me to win.
"Maybe that doesn't make sense. But when I'm playing someone else, for sure I want them to lose. I don't like to ever see her disappointed in any way. But at the same time, I don't want to see myself disappointed. You know, I need to get my titles, too.
So I'm still the big sister, but I'm still gonna play great tennis. So it's definitely completely different."
Does Venus now have the heart to scratch and claw in this match like she would against anyone else? You have to think she'll definitely try to at least lift the level of her tennis.
It's been fairly routine on serve at the beginning of the second, and it's 2-1 to Serena with Venus serving.
10:11 a.m. ET: But I'm not Venus. Big sis stays rooted to the baseline until 2-6 down in the tiebreaker, giving up a mini-break when she netted a backhand off a good return from Serena.
Of course, Serena almost made that wicked forehand pass at 2-6 and then lofted a lob to win the set after Venus was forced in by a net cord. So coming to net doesn't look like an infallible strategy, either.
Serena is looking very good from everywhere at the moment.
10:08 a.m. ET: Sure enough, we're going to a tiebreaker. If I'm Venus, I'm thinking that little sis is looking pretty solid and I'm not going to be able to outhit or outlast her at the baseline today, so I should start looking to come in more.
10:01 a.m. ET: A net-cord winner is the only point Venus manages to get as Serena quickly makes it 5-5. It's all the more impressive because they've been barely above 50 percent on their first-serve percentage for most of this match, though those numbers are climbing.
One thing to note is that Serena's forehand really seems to be clicking today -- each sister counts the backhand as her stronger and more reliable wing, so this could be a factor in who has the edge in baseline rallies today.
One of the reasons Serena has been more successful overall is that her shots are less likely to break down than Venus' long-limbed strokes. Venus' second serve and forehand can unravel in difficult matches -- though it hasn't happened here for years.
Serena wins a couple of long baseline points to get to deuce against Venus, but Venus holds on for 6-5. This set will be decided before the next changeover.
9:45 a.m. ET: Venus slipped on the first point of her service game at 3-3 and pulled up a little slowly but is jumping around as she prepares to receive serve up 4-3. Some sloppy footwork from Serena produces a couple of errors and Venus gets the first break opportunities of the match at 15-40.
But just as quickly, the chances disappear. A big kick serve from Serena is too much to handle, and though Venus returns the next one, she hits the lob a little long as Serena charges in. Serena then closes out the game with two unreturnable serves. It's 4-4.
9:33 a.m. ET: Serena holds easily once again and it's 3-3.
Interestingly, Venus and Serena's head-to-head is tied at 10-10 coming into this match.
Before the final, they were both asked if their record against each other means anything to them.
Venus: "I do like to be ahead, even though she's my sister. I do."
Serena: "Would I like it to end even? Of course not. Then I wouldn't win. I'm sure she feels the same."
9:31 a.m. ET: Now we're starting to get the first meaty exchanges. Venus ventures to net on Serena's serve and gets passed off Serena's forehand; a few long baseline exchanges have turned on Serena's forehand.
So the younger sister is looking the more predatory so far, but she is also making a few mistakes in her efforts to take charge.
9:26 a.m. ET: We all remember how awkward matches between the sisters were when they first came on tour, but they've become more comfortable with it after about a decade of playing each other on tour.
Their matches in the Wimbledon final and U.S. Open quarterfinal last year were tense, high-quality matches, and so far this one looks like it's going to be a competitive encounter, too. Venus has served a couple of double-faults, but they're both serving well and it's 2-1 for Venus.
There's a lot at stake for both -- a sixth Wimbledon title for Venus and an 11th Grand Slam title for Serena.
9:19 a.m. ET: The stadium is almost full as the sisters walk out to begin their warm-up. The good folks who run the media operations here have actually made it possible for me to blog from inside Centre Court itself today, so I'll be able to give you a first-hand account of the action and atmosphere!
There's a happy buzz as everyone waits for the match to begin. Venus has her left knee heavily taped, as she has for her past few matches, and Serena has some light strapping around the ankles.
The warm-up has now ended; the two don't look at each other as they get ready to begin. Venus won the toss and chose to serve.
8:56 a.m. ET: Hi everyone, and welcome to the women's singles final here at Wimbledon. It's the Fourth of July (Independence Day) in the United States, and appropriately enough, we have an all-American final between Venus and Serena Williams.
Here in Britain, there's a cloud of gloom following Andy Murray's defeat to Andy Roddick on Friday in a men's semifinal.
The recriminations have been muted, partly because of Roddick's superb, elevated performance and partly because Murray still has a few years to try to win -- they don't want to burn him on the rubbish heap just yet.
Still, there's a lot of disappointment, and some of it has a little edge. I caught the beginning of a Saturday cooking show this morning, and Pat Cash was the featured guest. The host of the show reported his cabbie told him, "Don't worry, he's Scottish." The whole British/Scottish debate was also a segment on the late-night news Friday night.
But that's just one segment of the population. As I walked into the grounds this morning, there was a guy wearing a bright red T-shirt with the royal seal and the following declaration:
Well, that's what we're about to do, as a fascinating women's final gets underway.
8:18 a.m. ET: Greetings from the All England Club, where sisters Venus and Serena duke it out for the second straight year in the Wimbledon final. Who has the upper hand? Venus cruised through her semifinal match and has looked stronger as the tournament has progressed. Serena manifested mental toughness in coming back from being down a match point, and defeated Elena Dementieva.
Don't miss a beat of the final. We'll have all the action right here.
Keep those e-mails coming (firstname.lastname@example.org), as I also will be answering your questions and comments throughout the day.
13hMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne