Venus Williams Wins Singles Title at Wimbledon

Venus Williams won her fourth Wimbledon title Saturday, then basked in cheers on the court that always seems to inspire her best tennis.

The heavily favored Williams beat surprising finalist Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-1 for her sixth Grand Slam title. She also won Wimbledon in 2000, 2001 and 2005.

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At No. 31, Williams became the lowest-ranked women's winner in Wimbledon history. Plagued in recent years by injuries that sent her ranking sliding, she rediscovered her championship form this week at the All England Club.

En route to the final she lost a total of 17 games while beating 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova on Wednesday, 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on Thursday and French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic on Friday.

Williams' resurgence was reminiscent of the run to this year's Australian Open title by her sister Serena, who entered that tournament ranked 81st.

Serena, eliminated by top-ranked Justine Henin in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, watched from the stands as Venus turned in a workmanlike performance punctuated by occasional brilliance. She chased down shots all over the court, and her varied shotmaking ranged from delicate slices to a fearsome backhand overhead slam.

While the tournament was plagued by rain for much of the past two weeks, the final took place right on schedule — and in warm sunshine, the best weather of the fortnight.

Williams served out the first game at love, then broke serve when Bartoli double-faulted. They played 19 minutes before Bartoli won a game to make it 3-1, prompting cheers of encouragement from a Centre Court crowd eager for a competitive match.

And it was — for a while. The Frenchwoman, playing in her first Grand Slam final, settled down to reach 3-all. But she double-faulted for the fourth time for set point, and Williams converted by charging forward to put away a backhand volley.

She kept up the pressure to start the second set, winning the first three games. Both players then requested medical timeouts — Bartoli to have her left foot retaped, and Williams to have her upper left thigh taped.

Following the 11-minute interruption, the 19th-ranked Bartoli held serve to close to 3-1. She had rallied from a set down in her past three matches, including a shocking win Friday over Henin.

But this time, there would be no comeback.

Williams hit a backhand winner to break serve for 5-1, and closed out the victory with a 124-mph service winner that handcuffed a weary Bartoli.

The crowd roared as Williams raised her arms, grinned and, after shaking hands with her opponent, let out with an exultant "Woooooo!"

With Wimbledon paying equal prize money to men and women for the first time this year, Williams won $1.407 million. Bartoli received $703,500. Williams has been among the most vocal proponents of equal prize money.