WIMBLEDON, England – Venus Williams mustered one last comeback, capping her career revival by winning another Wimbledon title.
Williams overcame an early deficit and a championship point Saturday to beat top-ranked Lindsay Davenport (search) 4-6, 7-6 (4), 9-7 for her fifth major title and her first in nearly four years.
At 2 hours, 45 minutes, the match was the longest Wimbledon women's final on record. Williams became the first woman since 1935 to win the title after facing a match point in the final.
"There were so many times when I was just trying to stay in the match," Williams said during the trophy ceremony. "Really I couldn't have asked to play a better player today to bring my level up."
When Davenport hit a forehand into the net on the last point, Williams raised both fists and grinned. After the players hugged, Williams hopped, sank to her knees and patted the grass. Then she rose and hopped some more, laughing all the while.
Williams then was presented with the championship trophy that coincidentally bears her first name — the Venus Rosewater Dish (search). She also won Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001, and was runner-up to sister Serena in 2002 and 2003.
"You never know what life will throw at you," Williams said. "I just expect the sun to come up these days, that's all."
The men's final Sunday will be a rematch of last year, when Roger Federer (search) beat Andy Roddick (search) to win his second straight title. Roddick completed a two-day semifinal suspended overnight because of rain, beating Thomas Johansson (search) 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (10), 7-6 (5) on Saturday.
Williams vs. Davenport climaxed with the longest third set in a Wimbledon women's final since Louise Brough beat Margaret Osborne duPont 10-8, 1-6, 10-8 in 1949, and it was full of suspense.
Davenport's back tightened and bothered her for several games midway through the set, and she required treatment from a trainer when ahead 4-3. She reached championship point leading 5-4 and receiving serve, but Williams kept the match alive with a backhand winner, then hit another to win the game for 5-all.
Both players held to 7-all. One rally lasted 25 strokes, by far the longest of the match, with both players running side to side and slugging shots into the corners.
Williams earned three break points in the next game and converted the third, hitting a forehand winner to close a 14-shot rally.
She won the first three points of the next game to reach championship point. After belting a backhand winner for 40-love, she pumped both fists and gritted her teeth, then finished the job two points later.
"Every time the chips were down for Venus, she played unbelievable," said Davenport, who said the sore back wasn't a factor in her defeat. "I thought I played really well and I thought I had a lot of chances, and I feel like she never let me take advantage of those chances."
With Williams' victory, six women have won the past six major titles. She snapped a streak of losses in her past five Grand Slam finals, all against her sister.
Williams had lost five Grand Slam finals in a row, all to her sister. With her victory, six women have won the past six major titles.
At No. 14, she became the lowest-seeded women's champion, surpassing 2004 champion Maria Sharapova (search), who was seeded 13th. Williams beat Sharapova in the semifinals.
Davenport, who was mulling retirement at this time last year, has staged a career comeback of her own, and was seeking her first major title since 2000. Instead she's a two-time Grand Slam runner-up this year — she lost the Australian Open final in January to Serena Williams (search).
Controversy flared briefly in the second set. Williams was serving at 4-4, 15-0 when her serve was ruled an ace, even though TV replays showed the ball clearly out. The mild-mannered Davenport pleaded in vain for chair umpire Gerry Armstrong to overrule the call.
"If I did my job that poorly, I wouldn't be able to be out here," she told Armstrong. "I don't understand why you're sitting here. It's not even close. You don't have the guts to overrule?"
Asked later about the dispute, Davenport smiled and said, "Gosh, I wish I could remember more of the second set."
Williams went on to win the game at love for 5-4, then earned a set point in the next game. Davenport saved it with a service winner, then won the next two points as well for 5-all.
Davenport regrouped and broke in the next game when Williams slipped and fell on her backside chasing a shot on the worn turf behind the baseline. From a prone position, Williams got her racket on Davenport's final shot but pulled the ball well wide.
Down but not out, Williams rallied, breaking at love when Davenport served for the match. Williams then hit six winners in the tiebreaker to even the match.
She won despite 10 double-faults and some shaky early play, and hit 49 winners to 30 for Davenport, who converted only four of 12 break-point chances.
Williams received 600,000 British pounds ($1,062,000). Davenport settled for 300,000 pounds ($531,000).