The 33-year-old looked like vintage Venus Williams in beating France's Alize Cornet in straight sets to claim her 45th career singles title.
© Warren Little/Getty Images
By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
Venus Williams emphatically claimed her first WTA singles title in nearly 18 months, defeating France’s Alize Cornet, 6-3, 6-0, at the 2014 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
After coming close to snapping her title drought last month in Auckland – a three-set final loss to Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic – Venus was broken just once in the 91-minute match to claim her 45th career tour title. With the victory, she will jump back into the Top 30 of the world rankings starting Monday, improving from No. 44 to No. 29 in the WTA rankings.
The 33-year-old last won at the BGL Luxembourg Open in October of 2012. In between, the former world No. 1 and seven-time major winner has had to overcome injuries to her back that pushed her out of last year’s Wimbledon, the sole Grand Slam event that she had never missed as a professional, as well as an ongoing battle with Sjogren's Syndrome, which saps her energy.
Williams came into the Dubai event as a wild card, yet looked like her vintage self in wins over Ivanovic, Italy’s Flavia Pennetta and former Dubai champ Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. In fact, she did not lose a set in any of her five matches.
"Just a lot of match toughness, mental toughness," Williams told the Associated Press in discussing her week. "When things got tough, I definitely got going this week. If I was down break point, when push came to shove, I was pushing and shoving."
Cornet, currently ranked No. 26, had been 0-for-17 in matches against Top 4 players in her career before stepping up and stunning top-seeded Serena Williams, 6-4, 6-4, on Friday, denying an all-Williams final. The last time Venus and Serena met to close out a tournament was at the WTA Tour Championships in 2009. The 24-year-old Frenchwoman dropped to 0-4 in career matches against the elder Williams.
Venus has enjoyed success in recent years when playing in the United Arab Emirates. This is her third Dubai title; she also claimed championships in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010. Having not played in Dubai between 2011 and 2013, Williams extended her unbeaten streak in Dubai to 15 matches.