A thing of beauty

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

WIMBLEDON -- At the end of the longest women's final in Wimbledon history, and quite possibly the most dramatic, all anyone could do at centre court was stand and applaud.

What else would have been appropriate?

The crowd just got louder and louder as Venus Williams jumped up and down- and then did it over and over again -- celebrating her victorious return to Grand Slam tennis with child-like glee.

"I can't help myself when I get excited ... I just show it all," said Williams, the unlikely Wimbledon champion, writing yet another chapter of her remarkable comeback story.

"Finally, I made it happen and I was able to last a little bit longer. I was just so excited."

It was that special and that memorable a day at Wimbledon, a wondrous way for the women's event to come to a conclusion.

It also was a day where legitimately two singles champions could have been declared after a two-hour, 45 minute marathon with the athletic Williams winning 4-6, 7-6, 9-7.

The competition was that special. Some who have been around a long time referred to this as the greatest women's final in history.

"It was great and it was exhilarating," Davenport said.

How often do you hear that from a defeated finalist? She knew she was part of something historic. She just wished it had turned her way.

"I felt like I played great," she said. "I felt like I did everything I wanted to do out there. And I felt like I got really close and just couldn't win. But I don't really feel I have anything to really hang my head about or be ashamed of."

It was about as good as Davenport can be, and still it wasn't enough. This is what Williams has kept locked up the past several years. It has been four years since she won this tournament.

In winning Wimbledon, Williams didn't just get another Grand Slam notch on her belt, she also showed a side of herself that seemingly had gone missing for so long.

She lost the first set yesterday, faced a match point in the second set -- the first time any finalist has survived a match point in 70 years -- but the longer the final went, the better she played. The competitive side that had disappeared from her game came back but, more than that, was necessary in order to win yesterday.

She managed to stay in the match right until she took it over. If anything, the one regret Davenport may have over time was not putting the match away when she could.

"The girl all of a sudden would make like 10 balls and hit winners," Davenport said.

"Like I said, that's not always the case. She just took it away from me every time I got up."

Davenport served for the championship in the third set and was up a service break in the second but couldn't find a way to close out the match. In the end, she was beaten by Williams and by a tight lower back which forced her to call for a trainer leading 4-3 in the third set.

In the first half of the match, Davenport controlled both the pace and the rhythm. Suddenly, almost from nowhere, Williams found a confidence that carried her to the finish line.

"I just wanted to hang in there," Williams said. "I didn't want to be off the court in one hour. I didn't really feel I was able to play my best (until the end). I just had to work with what I had.

"I spent so much time behind. The only I was in front was at the end."

It was the only time she had to be in front.

And at the end of the longest final in women's history here, she could have kept on jumping in celebration.

"Oh no, I wasn't tired," she said. "I was just so excited.

"I could have jumped for a lot longer."


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