Is Serena recovered from grueling semi?

Updated: July 3, 2009, 4:57 PM ET
ESPN.com

Venus and Serena Williams have won seven of the nine Wimbledon titles this decade, with the older sibling owning five.

Their roads to the final could not have been more different. Serena, on the precipice of defeat, clawed her way back versus Elena Dementieva in an instant classic, while Venus handed Dinara Safina the beating of her lifetime.

But don't count out Serena. After a bitter loss last year to her sister at the All England Club, she is steadfast on revenge. Will is happen? Our writers weigh in on three salient questions.

Will Serena be adequately recovered from her marathon semifinal match?

Greg Garber: As has been noted in the British papers, Serena is not leanly conditioned in the manner of Andy Roddick or Andy Murray. "She's not fit," wrote Simon Barnes of the Times of London. "Mobility was never a strong point, and she's gone downhill. A pie or two has probably been consumed along the way." Serena's semifinal match with Dementieva on Thursday went two hours, 49 minutes, and despite the fact that she looked winded a number of times in the third set, she looked fine playing doubles with Venus on Friday. If she were concerned about her state of readiness, she could have pulled out of doubles. As it is, the sisters are in the final.

Kamakshi Tandon: It was a tough match -- two hours, 50 minutes -- but Serena didn't look out of gas. Afterward, she said, "I was thinking at, 5-6, 'OK, I'm not tired, so I've just got to keep going.'" The sisters' doubles match Friday was also quite easy, so fatigue shouldn't be a factor unless the final also goes about three hours. With another player, there might also be the prospect of an emotional hangover, but Serena has shown in the past it's not a problem for her.

[+] EnlargeVenus Williams
Ian Walton/Getty ImagesVenus Williams looks to be in prime shape to capture her third consecutive Wimbledon title.

Ravi Ubha: As dad Richard pointed out Thursday, throw any fatigue out the window at this stage. Serena only averaged one hour, six minutes on court before then and hadn't dropped a set. A day of mostly rest Friday (doubles with Venus) won't hurt. She's had more grueling paths to a Grand Slam final -- think Australian Open two years ago -- and cruised in the showpiece.

Will Venus' ailing knee be a factor?

Garber: It hasn't been a factor so far, so why should it become a problem now? Venus has been wearing heavy tape on her knee throughout the fortnight for "support." Her father, Richard, insists that it is really "sore," but there hasn't been any dropoff in her results. She wrecked Dinara Safina in the semifinals -- Safina managed to win only a single game, the worst loss by a No. 1-ranked player in the history of WTA rankings going back to the mid-1970s. Venus' game on grass is predicated on her movement. She has long legs, and they propel her to the net -- where she wins many of her critical points -- with amazing speed. Based on what we've seen so far, it won't be an issue.

Tandon: Venus won't talk about the problem, but the strapping around the knee is so heavy it's clearly not preventative -- there's a real injury there. Whatever it is, however, it's clearly not affecting her overall level of play. But it might be affecting her on certain shots, and who better to know which than sister Serena?

Ubha: Nope. It hasn't really been throughout the fortnight. In fact, it might have forced Venus to get to the net more, thus ending points quicker. She's had tremendous success going forward. If the knee was really that bad, she would have pulled out of the doubles, as Richard wanted, a few days ago. Similarly, Serena has cast aside nagging knee and ankle injuries.

Who will win?

Garber: This is the 21st time Venus and Serena have met in a WTA-level match; they have split the previous meetings precisely down the middle, 10-all. Their four Wimbledon matches, three of them in the finals, are also a dead heat, at 2-all. The last three matches between the two have gone three sets, but Venus won here a year ago in straights. This is her house; she is the two-time defending champion and is looking for her sixth Wimbledon title. It says here she will get it -- and inch closer to Steffi Graf's total of seven and Martina Navratilova's amazing nine.

Tandon: Venus is the favorite, but it's a close call. Serena seems to have been serving somewhat better -- especially on the second serve -- but Venus has been much better at moving forward to end the point. Based on that, I give Venus the edge.

Ubha: Don't underestimate the revenge factor here, even if they are siblings. Serena was mighty ticked after losing last year's final, essentially talking about Venus as if she were just another opponent. A win would give her three Wimbledon titles, not far removed from Venus' five. Serena got a wake-up call in the semifinals and knows she needs to elevate her game. But she will win.