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Record-breaker Venus sets sights on Slam glory

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Originally published on: 05/03/10 18:06

Venus Williams secured the 42nd title of her career, defending her Dubai Tennis Championships crown with a 6-3 7-5 victory over Victoria Azarenka.

The American is now the most successful active WTA player after securing the win, overtaking Justine Henin’s 41 titles two months after breaking the $25 million prize money barrier – a feat only she and sister Serena have achieved.

In a noisy, hard-hitting encounter, Azarenka found herself under pressure on serve as Venus looked for winners early in the rallies to prevent the Belarusian building the points.

Azarenka double faulted on game point at 2-3 to hand Venus the initiative after a successful appeal to Hawkeye showed the second serve was indeed long.

It was enough for Venus to clinch the first set, and she rode the momentum to break again at the start of the second set. But Azarenka responded with a break of her own to level the set at 3-3.

The set was still in the balance at 5-5 before Azarenka was made to pay for a mediocre approach to the net on break point in game 11, leaving Venus to serve the match out.

Injury-free and with another landmark to her name, Williams is keen to jump-start her assault on the remaining Grand Slams in 2010.

“Absolutely,” she said about her desire for more majors. “I am so happy to have added to my collection here. And I am keen to keep adding every time.

“I’m definitely starting to feel better,” she added after playing without strapping on her knee for the first time in months. “It’s been a learning curve in managing the playing and keep the swelling down.

“I don’t usually talk about my injuries this much, but I am excited about what is happening.”

Venus also expressed her delight that her semi-final victim Shahar Peer became the first Israeli woman ever to compete in the United Arab Emirates after being denied a visa last year.

“Obviously we had issues with everyone getting included. But this year it was great to show a spirit of inclusion and equality.

“I definitely think her playing has an influence on things outside the tennis,” she added. “We need government to do the right thing like they did here and people of courage to come here and play, to play so well with focus.”

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