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Sister act: Venus ousts Serena in battle for family supremacy

SHARE Sister act: Venus ousts Serena in battle for family supremacy

WIMBLEDON, England — Advantage, big sister.

Venus Williams won the battle for family supremacy Thursday, beating kid sister Serena 6-2, 7-6 (3) to reach her first Wimbledon final.

One of the most eagerly anticipated Wimbledon matches in recent years failed to live up to expectations, turning into a straight-set affair dominated by errors rather than spectacular winners.

The fifth-seeded Venus appeared much less tentative than No. 8 Serena, who made repeated mistakes off her forehand, lost the last six points of the tiebreaker and finished the match with her sixth double fault.

After Serena plunked her second serve into the net on match point, Venus showed no sign of happiness. With a glum expression on her face, she walked slowly to the net, shook hands with Serena, then put her right arm around her sister's shoulder.

As the sisters walked off court, Venus gave a brief, halfhearted wave to the crowd. They left without doing the traditional curtsy to the Royal Box.

Venus Williams will play the winner of Thursday's other semifinal between defending champion Lindsay Davenport and unseeded 17-year-old Australian Jelena Dokic. The women's championship is Saturday.

The 18-year-old Serena was in tears after she shook the chair umpire's hand. It was her fourth loss in five matches to her 20-year-old sister.

"It's not really so much fun," Venus said. "If it was a final it would have

been different, but it was a semifinal and I hate to see Serena go. Hopefully, it'll be like the U.S. Open and I'll follow through and rebound for Williams."

Last year, Serena Williams won the U.S. Open after Venus lost in the semifinals to Martina Hingis.

"This has always been my dream," Venus said. "Sometimes I'd dream I'd win Grand Slams and I'd wake up and it's just terrible because I haven't."

It will be Venus' second appearance in a Grand Slam final. She was runner-up at the U.S. Open in 1997.

As promised, Richard Williams stayed away from his daughters' match, although he helped in their prematch workout. Among those who were present in the Williams' guest box were singers Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick, and former Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison. Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, watched from the stands.

The match began with a buzz of electricity on Centre Court, but the atmosphere quickly became subdued as the first set fizzled into a series of sloppy errors, particularly by Serena.

The first set lasted 31 minutes, with few long exchanges and the crowd offering only polite applause.

Serena Williams came into the match as favorite of most experts. She had lost only 13 games in five matches and displayed an overpowering game that looked unstoppable.

But she looked extremely flat against her sister, slapping unforced errors on her forehand time and again. After sailing another forehand long on break point in the sixth game, she shouted, "Nooooo."

Both players seemed tentative, content to stay at the baseline rather than play aggressive grasscourt tennis. But Venus was hitting out more on her shots and dictating most of the points.

Serena settled down in the second set, breaking in the first game and going ahead 4-2. But Venus ran off 11 straight points to lead 5-4. Serena then led 3-1 in the tiebreak but fell apart as Venus won six straight points to close out the match.

The sisters arrived together at the All England Club two hours before the match with their father. They then practiced together for 30 minutes while Richard Williams fetched balls.

The match was the most important showdown of sisters at the All England Club since Maud Watson beat older sister Lilian in the first women's final 116 years ago. It also was the first time sisters have met in a Grand Slam semi.

The men's semifinals are set for Friday, with top-seeded and six-time champion Pete Sampras facing qualifier Vladimir Voltchkov, and No. 2 Andre Agassi playing No. 12 Patrick Rafter.

Voltchkov, a 22-year-old from the former Soviet republic of Belarus, is the lowest-ranked player ever to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon and the first qualifier to make the men's final four since John McEnroe in 1977.