WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Forget the wins, the losses, the struggles. Everything changes when Venus Williams steps onto the manicured lawns of the All England Club.
The 28-year-old American won her fifth Wimbledon singles title Saturday, showing once again that she seems able to unleash something special in herself at key moments during the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.
“When I get here I feel like it's a different ball game, no matter what my results were, good or bad, in the beginning,” Williams said Sunday in an interview at the All England Club. “This is Wimbledon. No matter what, I'm going to play good here. That's really how I felt about it.”
Williams entered the tournament with a 14-7 record in 2008 and not a single appearance in a final, but she excelled over the last two weeks, rolling through six matches in straight sets before coming up against younger sister Serena in the final. Despite a 1-5 record against her sibling in previous Grand Slam finals, Williams won her second straight Wimbledon title 7-5, 6-4 on Centre Court.
Her next challenge will be trying – again – to maintain that momentum heading into the U.S. Open.
“I definitely want to build on this and keep playing great,” Williams said. “That's always the goal. Doesn't always happen.”
She has won seven Grand Slam titles, the last three coming the past four years at Wimbledon. From 2001-03, it had looked as though she would win dozens, playing her sister in six major tournament finals but losing five of them.
The Williams' dominance on the circuit ended after the death of their older half-sister, Yetunde Price, in September 2003.
“There were times when I just felt very discouraged about some of my results, but ultimately the standard that I set for myself is extremely high,” Williams said. “The results that I didn't like were great results for other players. I just had to put everything in perspective and come through those times.”
She certainly has come through at Wimbledon, and she wouldn't trade a single Venus Rosewater dish for a title at either the Australian Open or French Open, two majors she has never won.
“People remember Wimbledon,” Williams said. “The French Open and the Australian, they're unbelievable Slams, but they can get a little lost on the wayside. Wimbledon will never get lost.”
Her next challenge at the All England Club would be trying to match Billie Jean King's six titles, then Steffi Graf's seven, and then Martina Navratilova's nine — the most won at Wimbledon since the 1930s.
“Wow, I don't even think about that. That's not really in my thought process,” Williams said. “They were amazing. They had unbelievable achievements. I'm thrilled with my own achievements.”
Her resume now includes a second win over Serena in a major final after five straight losses. Surely, their years of playing together and against each other gave the older Williams an idea of what she needed to do to win Saturday.
“I didn't really have a game plan,'' she said. “Going in I was hoping to try to move the ball around. That didn't quite work. I ended up hitting a lot of balls at her.”
A few hours after that match ended, the sisters joined up to win the doubles title, beating Lisa Raymond of the United States and Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-2 for their seventh Grand Slam title as a team.
“We really want the doubles title. It's huge, it's Wimbledon,” Williams said. “Two years from now we'll see that it was another notch in our Grand Slam belts.”
The way the sisters are now playing, despite heading into Wimbledon with Serena ranked only No. 6 in the world and Venus one spot behind, they will get another chance to revive the rivalry in New York at the U.S. Open, and before that at the Olympics — where Venus won the singles title and she and Serena won the doubles title eight years ago in Sydney.
“I love the Olympics,” said Venus, who is expected to play singles and doubles in Beijing. “To add to my medals, it would be amazing.”