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Despite the stakes, there's nothing but love and respect between Venus and Serena Williams at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England — Venus Williams is just about the perfect older sibling: She supports sister Serena endlessly, protects her fiercely and even lets her pick which bedroom she wants when they're on the road.

Where does Venus, 29, draw the line with Serena, 27? At Grand Slams championships.

The sisters today face each other again in a major final, meeting for the Wimbledon women's singles title for the fourth time.

"I'm happy for (Serena) to be in the final, but I have to face her and defeat her," Venus said Thursday after reaching her eighth final at the All England Club by routing top-ranked Dinara Safina 6-1, 6-0. "I don't necessarily want her to lose, but for sure I want me to win."

After their showdown, the sisters become teammates for the doubles final. They are the defending champions.

Besides having won five Wimbledon singles titles, beating Serena in last year's final, Venus is trying to become the first woman to win three straight since Steffi Graf from 1991 to 1993.

"Even if (Serena is) not playing her best, just that fight she has, you're facing that," Venus said. "So there's so much to face when you play her. It's definitely a lot to get your mind around."

Serena showed her fight Thursday, saving a match point against Elena Dementieva before winning 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 8-6. The match, longer by time than any Wimbledon women's semifinal or final on record, was one of the most exciting of the tournament.

But if that was tough, wait until Serena faces an opponent who has won 20 consecutive matches at Wimbledon, the past 17 in straight sets.

"You know, (Venus is) not the easiest opponent on grass," Serena said. "I hope I win. Obviously, if I do, I'll be really, really excited. So we'll see."

Off the court, the sisters often share an apartment for Wimbledon, and there's no squabbling when it comes to choosing rooms. "I always defer. She picks first," Venus said.

On the court, things get intense when they're on opposite sides of the net.

"I feel very calm, actually," said Venus, who is 2-5 against Serena in Grand Slam finals. "But of course I'm going to bring the tough feet to the court."

For Serena, it's just more of the same. "We're used to being in this position now, so we pretty much have it down," she said Friday after she and Venus beat top-seeded Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-1, 6-2 to reach the doubles final, where they face Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs.

But even though Serena beat Venus in the 2002 and 2003 Wimbledon singles finals, she feels like the underdog against a player trying to win her sixth Venus Rosewater Dish.

"I feel like going into this final I have nothing to lose," Serena said. "I feel like obviously she's playing the best tennis at this tournament."

The final pits two players with two of the best serves on the tour, and both had those serves working pretty well in the semifinals. But Venus, who holds the tour record for fastest serve, 129 mph, had only five aces against Safina. Serena hit a tournament-high 20 against Dementieva.

When the sisters face each other, there are no secrets. They have been coached by their father, Richard, and mother, Oracene Price, since the beginning.

"We both play such a similar game. I mean, we had the same teacher," Venus said. "But what I can tell you is the same is the respect that we have for each other on and off the court."

Serena — with 10 major titles, three more than her sister — does believe Venus has a little something that she would like to emulate. "Her positive attitude," Serena said. "I get negative a lot. I think it creates who I am as a person, but it's good to stay positive and stay calm."

fast facts

Women's final

Serena vs. Venus

27Age29

2World rank3

430-92Career W-L541-127

31-72009 W-L27-6

33Career titles41

10-3Slam finals W-L7-6

2Wimbledon titles5

49-7Wimbledon W-L64-7

Source: Associated Press

Despite the stakes, there's nothing but love and respect between Venus and Serena Williams at Wimbledon 07/03/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 3, 2009 8:21pm]
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