Venus Williams wins Billie Jean King Cup
NEW YORK (AP)
Serena Williams' injured leg kept her from a chance to avenge her U.S. Open loss to Kim Clijsters, so sister Venus took care of the job on Monday.
Venus Williams defeated Clijsters 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 at Madison Square Garden to win the Billie Jean King Cup in the BNP Paribas Showdown.
Serena Williams withdrew a week ago because of her leg, ending what would have been the first meeting between her and Clijsters since the U.S. Open semifinals in September when the American unleashed a tirade against a line judge after she was called for a foot fault near the end of the match. Clijsters went on to win the championship.
The 26-year-old Belgian struggled early against the elder Williams before finding a groove in front of a very Venus-friendly crowd of 11,702 in the second set.
``In the beginning it took some time to find an aggressive game,'' Clijsters said. ``If you're not feeling the ball 100 percent, it's very hard. I kind of just had to look for my game a little bit, really look for my position on court. I got better as my match went on.''
Williams broke Clijsters in the first game and then held each of her serves to win the first set.
In the second set, Williams again won the first two games but got sloppy, volleying one break point wide and hitting another past the baseline. Clijsters held her serve for the rest of the set to win.
Williams was down 3-4 in the final set but broke back when Clijsters hit a volley into the net on break point. The pair held their serve the rest of the way until Clijsters, down 15-40, hit the break point long to hand Williams the win and $400,000 of the $1.2 million prize money.
``I always feel really confident on match point, so I love getting to that match point,'' Williams said. ``At quadruple match point I felt nice.''
King did not attend the exhibition because she is recovering from a recent double-knee replacement.
Earlier, Clijsters beat Ana Ivanovic 7-6 in the first of the one-set semifinals, outscoring the 22-year-old Serb and 2008 French Open champion 7-2 in the tiebreaker.
Down 5-4, Clijsters came from 0-30 to hold serve and won the next two games. Ivanovic won the 12th game to force the tiebreaker.
``Our games in some ways are similar,'' Ivanovic said. ``It was a tough match. I was actually very nervous, but it makes it an important match. I just wanted to do so well.''
Williams beat third-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 French Open winner, in the second semifinal 6-4. Kuznetsova took a 2-0 lead but struggled with her serve. Down 15-40 in the final game, the 24-year-old Russian double-faulted on her serve to hand Williams the match.
``You would like for it to last a little bit longer because one set is very difficult to play,'' Kuznetsova said. ``It was fun. The match was close, and I enjoyed the experience.''
Before the final, the International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees Gigi Fernandez, Owen Davidson and Brad Parks were introduced on court. They are part of the 2010 class announced Monday that includes doubles specialists Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde and Natasha Zvereva.