Venus Caps Comeback With Memphis Title
Published Feburary 24, 2007 12:00
MEMPHIS, TN, USA - Throughout the last week, the Memphis crowds watched as one of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's all-time greats played her way back into form, after missing most of the last eight months with a left wrist injury. On Saturday night that became title-winning form as Venus Williams earned the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships & the Cellular South Cup with a resonant 61 61 victory over Israel's Shahar Peer.
Williams, who came into the event ranked No.54 after a long struggle with the wrist, shook off some rust en route to the final, going to three sets in her opener and winning her second round and quarterfinal bouts in tight two-setters. She showed glimpses of her former brilliance on Friday evening, racing past Romanian Ioana Raluca Olaru with the loss of only five games, but her best was still to come.
The No.7-seeded American was in complete control against the top-seeded Peer from start to finish, and particularly on serve, never facing a break point during the one-hour, eight-minute rout. She finished with nearly twice as many points as her shell-shocked opponent, who was coming off some of the best results of her career, including two Top 10 wins and her first major quarterfinal in Australia.
"I felt confident today - it was good," Williams said. "I like a challenge. It was a wonderful match as she is a great player. I had to make the most of the opportunities she gave me."
On the new rankings Williams is projected to re-enter the Top 40; should she move that high, she'll pass Lindsay Davenport, Meghann Shaughnessy and Shenay Perry to become the second-highest American on the chart, trailing only Serena.
"My goal is to be in the Top 16 by the French Open," said Williams, who has had a lot of success at events such as Miami, Charleston and Rome, which are all on the calendar leading up to Paris. "I have three of four tournaments to get there."
The No.17-ranked Peer, who lost just 19 games in four matches in reaching the final, said she just couldn't get into the match from the beginning.
"I didn't start out well and she just started gaining confidence," the Israeli said. "I didn't see her play like this the whole week. She just made so many winners and I did a lot of unforced. It was going both ways. I wasn't playing well and she was. That's why I lost so easily."
Peer is now 3-1 in finals, having won Pattaya City, Prague and Istanbul last year.
Australian pairing Nicole Pratt and Bryanne Stewart were also winners Saturday, capturing the doubles title with a 75 46 105 match tie-break championship victory over Slovak-Japanese duo Jarmila Groth and Akiko Morigami. Pratt captured her ninth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour doubles title, while Stewart earned her third.