S. Williams slams Davenport, captures 2nd Australian Open

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — MELBOURNE, Australia - This wasn't a game of two halves, rather, a game of two selves.

The injured imposter portraying Serena Williams was slow-moving, slow-serving and almost couldn't keep a ball in play during the first set of the Australian Open final. Sets two and three featured the tenacious Serena Williams, the one who dominated the sport a couple of years ago.


Confusion reigned at Rod Laver Arena. And ultimately, so did the second Serena. The seventh-seeded Williams won her second Australian Open singles title, and her first Grand Slam championship in 18 months, defeating No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, in 1 hour, 29 minutes at Melbourne Park. In the first set, Williams left the court for several minutes, requiring treatment for what she said was an injured back.

For Williams, who won the final nine games, it was her seventh Grand Slam singles title and the first since she had knee surgery in August 2003, which forced her to miss the Australian Open last year. Her previous Slam victory was at Wimbledon in 2003 in front of family and friends, including her older half-sister, Yetunde, who was killed in a shooting in Los Angeles a few months later.


Williams made an indirect reference to that: "I never really thought about holding a Grand Slam trophy [again], I kind of reflected on my life. ... what do I want most in my life and what's most important," she said shortly after in an interview with Australian TV. "... If I can go through that. ... I can go through anything."

Said Davenport: "She's had a tough couple of years and has come back like a champion she is. So everyone should applaud her for everything she's gone through."

Despite being three games from winning her first Grand Slam in five years, Davenport was not bitterly disappointed, saying: "No, I've had much worse. I've had bigger opportunities."

She told the crowd that she hoped to see them again. What did that mean for the future of the 28-year-old?

"You know, haven't gone there yet," said Davenport. "You never know what's going to happen in a year. I hope if I'm back, I know that I'm healthy and feeling good and feel like I have a chance to win. In that regard, I do hope I'll be back."

Two games in the second set stood out as turning points. Williams saved six break points in the fifth game to stay in contention. Davenport's downfall began in the eighth game, serving at 3-4, she took a 40-0 lead and, with plenty of time, hit a routine backhand cross court wide.

Williams pulled to deuce and ended up getting the break when Davenport double faulted.

"I felt like I was playing well and in control," said Davenport, who had seven aces and eight double faults. "I had that horrible lapse at 4-3, serving 40-0 made a few quick errors and opened the door for her. She kept going through it. She raised her game and started serving really well and hard. At the end I was just a little bit fatigued."


Said Williams, of the fifth game: "I kept thinking to myself, 'I'm not losing this game.' I told myself, 'I don't care if my arm falls off and I'm not losing this game.' Keep fighting and see what happens.

"I didn't want to lose that particular game. I thought if I did, it would give her a lot of confidence and momentum going into the next game."

Still, she had faced considerably more difficult predicaments in Melbourne. Williams saved three match points in her semifinal match against Maria Sharapova of Russia, and finally won it, 8-6, in the third set. Two years ago, she saved two match points in the semifinals and went on to win the title.

Today, she had to leave the court, down 1-4, in the first set for treatment of her injury. Williams said she felt the pain when she went to reach for a backhand. Off the court, the trainers manipulated her and put Williams back together again.

Williams was off the court so long, the joke was that she was looking for Andy Roddick in the locker room. Roddick, disappointed after losing the second and third sets in tiebreakers in his semifinal against Lleyton Hewitt of Australia yesterday, left the court for 11 minutes after the third set and had to be retrieved by the tournament referee.

Unlike Roddick, Williams came back and won with an impressive fighting spirit. She got better, stronger and faster with each passing game, it seemed. Ten of her 12 aces came in the final two sets and she hit 22 of her 31 winners in the second and third sets.


For her, the title marked a certain vindication. She repeated what she said after an earlier round, taking offense at being asked if she and her older sister Venus were in decline. "People are asking what's wrong with the Williams sisters," Serena said. "There's nothing wrong with us."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Box score

........................... Williams Davenport

First-serve % 60 63

Aces 12 7


Double faults 5 8

Unforced errors 21 25

First-serve winning % 76 70

Second-serve winning % 47 32

Winners (incl. serv.) 31 24

Break points 4-8 2-8


Net points 4-8 7-10

Total points won 84 68

Time of match: 1:29