Originally created 01/30/05

Serena's Grand Slam drought over

MELBOURNE, Australia - Serena Williams was fed up with the same old question: What's happened to the Williams sisters?

She showed 'em.

Down a set and facing a break, her back hurting and her serve misfiring, Serena Williams dug deep to beat top-ranked Lindsay Davenport 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in Saturday's Australian Open final, ending an 18-month Grand Slam title drought.

"I've always considered myself the best and the top," she said. "I never considered that I was out of it. Ever."

She won the final nine games and lost only eight points in the deciding set en route to her seventh major championship. Her previous Grand Slam title was at Wimbledon in 2003, the last in a sequence of five titles in six majors.

"I never, ever, think that I have to give up, in the most dire situations," Williams said.

She is coming off a year of physical and emotional upheaval. Williams and sister Venus have contended with injuries and the shooting death of sister Yetunde Price in September 2003.

"It's that much sweeter because people are always wondering about what's happening to us," Serena said. "It's nothing. The matches we lose, it's just maybe because of a few points here, a few points there of not playing well but we're really in it."

While the Williams sisters were not winning Grand Slam titles, the championships went to Belgians Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters and Russians Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Davenport rose to No. 1 in the rankings, despite thoughts of retirement, without adding to her three major titles and Amelie Mauresmo - without a Grand Slam title - held the No. 2 ranking.

Williams overwhelmed Mauresmo in the quarterfinals. She avenged her Wimbledon final loss to Sharapova

Against Davenport, Williams lost the first four games. She was grimacing and grunting in pain with almost every shot after wrenching her back chasing a backhand in the opening game. After holding serve for the first time, she called for the trainer and took an eight-minute break for treatment on and off the court.

Davenport finished off the set and had six break points in the fifth game of the second, until Williams felt she could push herself to the limit.

Williams, seeded seventh, appeared doomed and ready to smash her racket. But she saved six break points to turn the match.

"I felt like I was playing well and in control pretty much of the match," Davenport said. "Then I just had that horrible lapse ... and opened up the door for her. She just kept going through it."

Today's men's final - the first in the Australian Open at night - features Lleyton Hewitt against Marat Safin. Safin is playing his third final in four years at Melbourne Park but has yet to win.


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