No family planning as sisters battle all the way

In the end, Venus was a sister without mercy, on court. Yet, a fifth championship here in all, and a second final triumph over her younger sister was celebrated with due sensitivity to the woman closest to her."My first job is big sister,"Venus explained, with a laugh."I take that really seriously."In between, though, there were precious few feelings spared as the Williams sisters provided the required riposte to anyone who'd had the temerity to suggest that this would besome kind of carve-up.

Rarely will either have had to participate in a tougher contest of 22 games, which included some titanic rallies. As Venus said afterwards: "Whenyou're in a final against Serena Williams, five [Wimbledon titles] seems so far away from that first point." And you don't hit a record-equalling 129mphserve, as the winner did at the start of the second set, in a contest that is in any waypre-ordained.

But it was never going to be thus. The remark of Venus's semi-final conquest Elena Dementieva that "for sure, it's a family decision" was something or nothing. Most on Centre Court yesterday would have been utterly convinced of the latter, even before the Russian clarified the issue and attributed the comment to lack of English as her first language.

That said, in elite sport, the situation here was surely unique. Well, at least since the last time they met in a final here, in 2003. And the Williams blood is thicker than most; for these are hardly distant acquaintances. This pair live togetherin Florida's Palm BeachGardens. Which may explain why the three previous finals between them here – with Venus the victor in 2000, and the 2002 and 2003 titles both going to Serena – have not exactly crackled with magnetic energy.

So, nobody expected that Williams versus Williams Act 4 was ever going to contain the acrimony of, say, "Kramer vs Kramer". But it had its moments And nobody could say it wasn't power versus power. For most of the 111 minutes, it wasfull on. On court, these women wouldn't know how to go soft on each other under the eyes of mum Oracene and sisters, Isha and Lynn, who could do nothing more than joyfully applaud every winner. "It's hard for all of them," reflected Venus, adding with a laugh: "I kinda hope they want me to win."

Referring to her relatively subdued response to victory, Venus added: "When a matchis that close, it obviously makes it more exciting to win, and nothing can detract from winning Wimbledon, but I'm definitely in tune to my sister's feelings, and she has lost."Lost, but still way ahead of her other rivals.

In only the second year since equal prize money for men and women was introduced, the distaff side of the game finds itself embarrassed by the fact that yesterday's final was contested by two women who can almost be regarded as part-timers and drop into Wimbledon between fashion shoots for Vogue. The retirement of players like Kim Clijsters and, earlier this year, Justine Henin, has not helped matters, but for the top four seeds to all fall by the fourth round is an indictment of the paucity of competition. But that is no fault ofthese redoubtable characters: Serena who won her first Wimbledon ten years ago and Venus, who followed up two years' later.

Under the approving gaze of the nine-times Wimbledon champion, Martina Navratilova, and six-times winner, Billy Jean, King in the Royal Box, Venus, the defending champion, contesting her seventh Wimbledon final in nine years, still has work to do to equal those records, though, with Venus enthusing, "this puts you in the stratosphere" it bodes well that she can remain in those rarified heights.

On route to this final, she hadn't dropped a set. And after 53 minutes yesterday, she still hadn't, after recovering superbly from being broken in the first game. Slowly, inexorably, she asserted herself as Serena began to question herself. A brutal rally in the eighth game, won by Venus, who broke back a point later, was a prelude of what was to follow.

The intensity of the match was encapsulated by an engrossing ninth game, in which Serena reached break point, only to her allow her sibling to take the game, and the lead for the first time. "Use the force, Serena" was the haunting advice ofan onlooker at one stage.A would-be Alec Guinness, presumably, imagining this was "Star Wars"? In a sense it was, of course. But the force wasn't with Serena, and after a protracted battle of wits,Venus prevailed to forge ahead before taking the set.

The sisters broke each other early in the second set, and it went with serve until Venus had two match points in the 10th game. Serena saved the first with an punishing ace but a poor backhand on the second gave yielded Big Sis the title.

The only disappointment,was that Serena couldn't stretch her sibling more and extend matters to a third set. The Centre Court crowd made it abundantly clear that they wanted more.But it was no to be. Only their father and coach, Richard Williams, was not overly concerned with the outcome. Which is why he absented himself from the final, his task complete. Either way, it would be victory for daddy's girl. He knew that these sisters wouldbe doing it for themselves.

Major achievements

Grand Slam singles titles: Serena Williams: 8

1999 US Open v Martina Hingis 2002 French Open v Venus Williams

2002 Wimbledon v V Williams

2002 US Open v V Williams

2003 Australian Open v V Williams

2003 Wimbledon v V Williams

2005 Australian Open v Lindsay Davenport

2007 Australian Open v Maria Sharapova

Venus Williams: 7

2000 Wimbledon v L Davenport

2000 US Open v L Davenport

2001 Wimbledon v Justine Henin 2001 US Open v S Williams

2005 Wimbledon v L Davenport

2007 Wimbledon v Marion Bartoli

2008 Wimbledon v S Williams

Head to head in Grand Slam finals: Serena 5-2 Venus

2001 US Open Venus bt Serena 6-2 6-4

2002 French Open Serena bt Venus 7-5 6-3

2002 Wimbledon Serena bt Venus 7-6 6-3

2002 US Open Serena bt Venus 6-4 6-3

2003 Australian Open Serena bt Venus 7-6 3-6 6-4

2003 Wimbledon Serena bt Venus 4-6 6-4 6-2

2008 Wimbledon Venus bt Serena 7-5 6-4

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits