Saturday, July 07, 2007

Venus Won!

On July 6, 1957 legendary tennis pioneer Althea Gibson became the first African-American athlete to win Wimbledon.

50 years to the day of Gibson's triumph, Venus Williams, one of the women now building on her legacy, won her fourth Wimbledon title and her first Grand Slam event title in two years by beating Marion Bartoli of France in straight sets 6-4, 6-1.

She made a little history as well. Since Wimbledon went to the computer raking system in 1975, Venus became the lowest ranked seed (number 23) to win the title. Her world tennis ranking has fallen to number 31 due to the wrist injury she was recovering from.

She also joined Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf as players who have won Wimbledon at least four times since the tournament began admitting professional players in 1968.

The one thing that would have made this 50th anniversary win better is if Serena could have joined her big sis in the final. She fell in the quarterfinals to the current number one world ranked player and tournament number one seed Justine Henin 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

In this decade, Wimbledon has been the personal playground of the Williams sisters. With the exception of the 2004 tournament, in which Maria Sharapova beat Serena 6-1, 6-4 and 2006 in which Amelie Mauresimo beat Justine Henin, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, either Serena or Venus has been the last one standing at Centre Court holding the Wimbledon championship trophy, ironically called the Venus Rosewater Dish.

I couldn't think of a more fitting way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Althea Gibson's breakthrough win at Wimbledon by seeing Venus hopefully return to championship form.

Watching tennis tournaments will definitely be more fun for me now that my girls are starting to return to their winning form. They just need to stay healthy, avoid the nagging injuries and they could once again dominate like they did at the beginning of the decade. I'd love to see one or both of the Williams sisters eventually win a Grand Slam before they retire.

Today, Althea Gibson is smiling. You go Venus. See you at the US Open.

No comments: