WIMBLEDON, England – Venus Williams hopped giddily, like a little girl born with a silver plate in her hands.
She had just won $647,500 in a very unladylike fashion. She ripped serves at 118 mph. She rushed the net at high speed. And she mercilessly wore down her teenage opponent.
That all-out style brought her to another Centre Court coronation Sunday as the first woman to win consecutive Wimbledon singles titles since Steffi Graf in 1995-96.
So there she stood after overpowering and towering over 5-foot-6 Justine Henin, a 19-year-old Belgian in her first Wimbledon final.
As a light mist moistened Williams' beaming face, the Duchess of Kent handed her "The Venus Rosewater Dish," so named because its silver face is embossed with an image of Venus, the goddess of love, and other mythological figures.
Williams raised the championship prize and curtsied as the crowd cheered.
She may never let go.
"I think she can win Wimbledon a lot," said Henin, 7 inches shorter and plenty of shots behind Williams. The final score was 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.
Williams' only struggle on serve came in the eighth game of the second set when she won one point and had a double fault as Henin broke for a 5-3 lead. But in the third set, Williams lost just 10 points in six games.
"In my mind, I'm always the best," she said. "If I walk out on the court (and) I think the next person is better, I've already lost."
For all the fortune she's amassed, Williams was born poor. Her father Richard was the son of a Louisiana sharecropper. She and sister Serena spent their early years in inner city Los Angeles.
But both were rich in physical gifts. Richard borrowed tennis videos from the library to learn how to coach them, and the family moved to Florida when they were young children.
He's been branded a pushy tennis father with an unorthodox teaching style who basks in the spotlight of his daughters' fame.
"It wasn't like I was self-motivated," Venus said earlier in the tournament. "My dad started me. It was his dream before it was mine."
That's changed dramatically, yet her passion for the game seems less intense than most other top players. She's played just eight tournaments this year -- none between her first-round loss at the French Open on May 28 and Wimbledon -- and isn't crazy about practice.
She has plenty of other interests: reading, fashion, visits to Blockbuster hoping she's not recognized. She talks in a high-pitched, almost giggly manner. At age 21, there's much more to her life than serves and volleys.
"I'm still a kid and I don't want to grow up yet," Williams said, "but I have to in some things, but not everything. So it's a happy medium."
A year ago, she leaped through the air when she beat Lindsay Davenport for the Wimbledon championship. On Sunday, her reaction was restrained.
Her triumph won't boost her from No. 2 to the top ranking in women's tennis. Martina Hingis retains that, even though she lost in the first round at Wimbledon, because she's played more and with greater consistency.
Williams has never been ranked first in the world. But that's high on her list of priorities.
"Grand Slams definitely are No. 1. Then No. 2, for sure, is No. 1," she said, chuckling at the cute play on words. "Oh boy, like a Dr. Seuss book."
More like a fairy tale.