Rejuvenated Venus sends message to challengers

When Venus Williams reached the Wimbledon final last year her left knee was so heavily bandaged that her leg looked like a badly lagged water pipe. The American wore the strapping for much of the season, but when she won her first title for nearly 12 months here at the Barclays Dubai Championships on Saturday she looked a picture of health and fitness.

Williams' 6-3, 7-5 victory over Victoria Azarenka, who is breathing down her neck at No 6 in the world rankings, put the seal on a week in which the 29-year-old has shown she has no intention of letting a younger generation take over yet. Her 42nd singles title, which puts her one ahead of Justine Henin at the top of the list of current players, came in Williams' 700th match and after wins here over opponents aged 20, 21, 18, 22 and 20.

"I really had a hard time last year with my fitness, but I learned how to manage my pain better," Williams explained after her triumph. "It's not easy, especially when you keep playing and you don't get better. This year I am able to get better. As you see, I have no huge horrible strap. I hated that thing. I don't want it ever again.

"I'm doing OK. I feel like I'm moving better and better. Last year it was difficult to move at my best, because I just couldn't. Now I find myself getting faster and faster the better that I feel."

It was the American's strength and ball-striking power that eventually made the difference against an opponent regarded as one of the best up-and-coming players. While the first set was comparatively comfortable for Williams, Azarenka briefly threatened when she recovered from 2-0 down to lead 5-4 in the second before crumbling under the weight of Williams' serve and returns.

*Anne Keothavong, the former British No 1, will return to action in Indian Wells next month buoyed by her form following her return from a serious knee injury making the semi-finals of her first event back on the main Sony Ericsson tour in Memphis before losing 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to Sofia Arvidsson.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat