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Federer, Williams Capture Wimbledon


Play at Wimbledon is over and in the record books. Roger Federer won the men's title for the fifth year in a row. And Venus Williams, the 23rd seed, won the women's for the fourth time.

Christine Brennan is a columnist with USA Today. She attended Wimbledon and we check in with her right now in London. Good morning.


Ms. CHRISTINE BRENNAN (Columnist, USA Today): Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: And in winning his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title yesterday, Roger Federer is now tied with Bjorn Borg. But that win wasn't so easy, was it?

Ms. BRENNAN: No. In fact, it was a classic battle, and a long one, three hours and 45 minutes. Renee, it was the first time Roger Federer was pushed to five sets in a final of any of his now 11 Grand Slam victories. Federer's from Switzerland and he defeated Spain's Rafael Nadal.

At times, Roger Federer looked shaky and even let an overruled call bother him for a few games. He's normally unflappable so that was unusual to see. But his serve saved him. Federer had 24 aces; Nadal had only one ace.

MONTAGNE: And Rafael Nadal also had a tough match following a string of problems.


Ms. BRENNAN: Exactly. The rain you heard so much about that disrupted the first 10 days of the tournament, well it disrupted Rafael Nadal most of all. Nadal won a match on the Fourth of July, Renee, that started on June 30th.

The match against Sweden's Robin Soderling, an early round match, covered five consecutive days, had six rain delays and featured nine to 10 hours of waiting in the locker room every single day. All this while Roger Federer had six days off because of the quirkiness of the schedule and the rainouts.

But Nadal, by playing all this time, by playing seven consecutive days, in some ways he was more match-ready. And I think that showed with his grit and his determination. You know, he's the three-time French Open champion. That's played on clay, but he continues to improve by leaps and bounds on grass and people figure within the next year or two Rafael Nadal will win a Wimbledon title.

MONTAGNE: And Venus Williams, she was pretty far down there, 23rd seed, how did she pull off winning her fourth title?

Ms. BRENNAN: Because Venus Williams loved Wimbledon. She adores everything about the place, even the rain, which she says gives her clarity. She was seeded number 23 because she had a wrist injury early in the year.

But that was a very deceptive seeding because when Venus Williams is healthy and focused, Renee, there is no one who can beat her on grass. It's her favorite surface. As a little girl, she always said she'd win Wimbledon many times and now she's doing it.

This was her fourth Wimbledon win in eight years. Only three other women in the Open era have done that. And it's her size, her speed, her wingspan - she's 6'1", she got the perfect build for Wimbledon - and she got better as her opponents got tougher, ended up beating France's Marion Bartoli, a surprising finalist herself, the 18th seed. That was a straight sets win, 6-4, 6-1 for Venus Williams.

MONTAGNE: And a Venus Williams win must be pretty good for tennis.

Ms. BRENNAN: I think so. Venus and Serena both. The Williams sisters are back in a big way. They've won two of the first three Grand Slam events of the year. Serena won the Australian Open. I had a chance to talk to Billie Jean King yesterday, and she said to me they provide more drama, more bang for the buck than anyone else in the sport.

She said their drive to come back, their will to win is unequaled. And I think everyone in tennis is applauding the fact that Venus, now 27, Serena, now 25, are back. They're winning, they're healthy, and I wouldn't doubt for a minute that they're both going to win several more Grand Slam titles apiece.

MONTAGNE: Christine, thanks very much.

Ms. BRENNAN: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Christine Brennan is a columnist for USA Today and author of "The Best Seat in the House." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.