Venus salutes Peer following Dubai victory
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:29
Venus Williams claimed title No.40 and will return to the WTA top 5 when the new rankings come out on Monday after defeating Virginie Razzano 6-4 6-2 in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championship.
The opening set of the final was a tight affair, although Williams’ dominated on serve. However, Razzano’s impressive returning forced her to fight off three break points to hold for 3-2. With the former world No.1 leading 4-3, Razzano had to have treatment to her lower back.
Williams then broke in the final game of the set, bringing up set point with a crosscourt backhand winner before Razzano netted a forehand.
Still struggling with her back, Razzano’s serve deserted her at times in the second set, and the Frenchwoman double-faulted three times as Williams broke to lead 2-0.
“It was brave of her to come here and try and play despite knowing that it is not going to be easy” – Williams
Williams then surged to a 5-0 lead before Razzano offered some late resistance and the 28-year-old showed uncharacteristic signs of nerves. After failing to convert two match points on Razzano’s serve at 5-1 Williams double-faulted twice as she dropped the seventh game, but finally closed out the match on her fourth match point when Razzano again netted a forehand.
During the trophy presentation Williams felt she “had to” speak about Shahar Peer, the Israeli player who was denied entry into the United Arab Emirates a week ago because of what organisers called security concerns.
The WTA fined organizers of the tournament a record $300,000 on Friday, saying it will compensate Peer and ensure other Israeli players aren’t shut out of future events.
“I felt like I had to talk about her,” Williams said. “I thought it was brave of her to come here and try and play despite knowing that it is not going to be easy for her. My dad grew up in an area where if you spoke too much, it was your life. So I felt I had a small opportunity to say something where everyone will listen.”
“I am not here to rock any boat or upset people, I am just here to do things that are right,” Williams said. “And I think right things are already happening next week and right things will happen next year.”
“I thought of Althea Gibson who was excluded,” she added, referring to the American who overcame discrimination and exclusion to become Wimbledon’s first black champion in 1957. “She played, and I thought of people who stood up and played with her when no-one else would.”
Israeli player Andy Ram was granted a visa Thursday for next week’s men’s tournament. On Saturday, organisers said Ram would have the security needed to play.
“Obviously, Andy Ram got his visa, so I’ll be happy to come and defend next year,” Williams said. “If everyone is not given the equal opportunity to play, I’d rethink. But I love this tournament. They really care about the players.”
Williams was also full of praise for Razzano, who beat three seeds on her way to the final.
“I think she definitely had a much better week than I had, even though I won the tournament,” Williams said. “She played a great game and she came with a great game plan to come out and attack. She’d have been in trouble if she had let me take control of the match.
“But I am pretty used to players coming against me and playing aggressive tennis. I can’t really control that, so I just try and play my side of the court.”
Razzano, who upset second-seeded Dinara Safina and fifth-seeded Vera Zvonareva in Dubai, said her performance was the best of her career.
“I am very happy,” said the world No.58, who is expected to reach the top 40 on Monday. “I am happy for Venus, who played great and deserved to win. And I am feeling happy for myself because I played so well throughout the week. I know I can challenge the top players.”
In the doubles final, Cara Black and Liezel Huber claimed an unprecedented third Dubai title with a 6-3 6-3 win against the unseeded Maria Kirilenko and Agnieszka Radwanska.