Venus Williams left the U.S. Open the same way Serena Williams did, undone by all those big shots off the racket of little Justine Henin. In a riveting match filled with superb all-court play, Henin became only the second woman to beat both Williams sisters at the same Grand Slam tournament, reaching the final at Flushing Meadows with a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Venus on Friday.
The No. 1-ranked Henin will face No. 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova on Saturday night in a title match featuring two past Open champions.
Henin eliminated Serena in the quarterfinals, and Venus said she wanted to right that wrong.
But it was the 5-foot-5, 125-pound Henin who controlled the tempo Friday and worked every angle, constructing points, sneaking to the net and repeatedly placing balls on the lines. She even pounded serves at up to 117 mph and came up with a second-set lob winner over the 6-1 Williams — a delivery that put a wide smile on the Belgian's face and left the American slumping her shoulders and hanging her head.
By the end, Williams was physically spent, hitting some serves in the 70s while getting broken to trail 5-3 in the second set. During the preceding changeover, Williams felt dizzy and a trainer came out to check her pulse and temperature.
That's not to say the older Williams wasn't good, too.
She broke when Henin served for the first set at 5-4, ending a 10-stroke point with a backhand passing winner, and a 16-stroke exchange with a cross-court forehand winner on the line. Then, when Henin served for the match at 5-3 in the second, Williams broke again to extend the match. But Henin broke right back to end it.