LONDON, England - Everyone knew she was a threat, having won the title twice before in 2000 and 2001, but Venus Williams was more of a dark horse at Wimbledon in 2005, going in at No.16 on the WTA Rankings and the No.14 seed - no player in the Open Era had won it ranked or seeded that low.
But Williams got more and more confident as the tournament went on - she didn't drop a single set in her first five matches, a path that included an upset over No.12 seed Mary Pierce in the quarterfinals, and she continued that pattern in the semifinals, taking out No.2 seed Maria Sharapova, 7-6(2), 6-1.
Sharapova wasn't just the defending champion at the All-England Club a decade ago, she was on a 22-match grass court win streak - she had also beaten Williams in the pair's only two previous meetings.
The path got even tougher in the final. Lindsay Davenport, ranked and seeded No.1, awaited in the final, and she came out firing, winning the first set and breaking late in the second set for a chance to serve for it at 6-4, 6-5 - and when she got broken, she was still three points away in the tie-break.
Williams was being dragged all over the court, even falling to the ground to make one shot...
And though she got out of trouble and took the second set, she faced match point down 5-4 in the third.
But Williams never stopped believing - she ripped an inside out backhand winner to save that match point, and after two hours and 45 minutes on the court she finally had the title, 4-6, 7-6(4), 9-7. It was the longest final ever at Wimbledon, and it made Williams the lowest-ranked, lowest-seeded player to win Wimbledon in the Open Era. It also propelled her back into the Top 10 - from No.16 to No.8.
"I always felt like a champion in my heart. I always gave it 100%," Williams would say afterwards.