March 29, 1998 in Sports

Williams Overcomes Slow Start, Overtakes Kournikova In Lipton Final

Associated Press
 
Tags:tennis

Venus Williams can use those beads in her hair to keep track of tournament titles. She’s at two, and counting.

Patient rather than powerful, Williams overcame a slow start to beat Anna Kournikova 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in an all-teen final Saturday at the Lipton Championships.

The much-anticipated high-noon showdown fizzled from an artistic standpoint, with ragged performances by both players.

But the 17-year-old Williams, who won her first career title at Oklahoma City four weeks ago, continued her rapid rise in the rankings. She’ll be a career-high 10th next week.

“I’m coming,” she said. “Don’t rush me.”

Holding the championship trophy, Williams posed for photographers, then waved Kournikova into the picture. They’ll both likely remain in the picture for years to come.

Kournikova, 16, won four consecutive matches this week against top-10 players, a feat unprecedented on the women’s tour. But her path to the final took a toll, and the young Russian wilted in the sunny, 82-degree weather.

She didn’t earn any points for being a graceful loser in her first match against Williams.

“I got a little tired,” Kournikova said. “But it’s good. She didn’t beat me; I lost. That means I’m better a little than her.”

That’s debatable, but there’s no question teenagers dominated the women’s draw. Williams’ 16-year-old sister, Serena, reached the quarterfinals. Venus beat top-ranked Martina Hingis, 17, in the semifinals.

There could be a shakeup on the men’s side today, when Andre Agassi seeks his fourth Lipton title against Chilean Marcelo Rios. If Rios wins, he’ll become the first No. 1 player from South America, ending Pete Sampras’ streak of 102 consecutive weeks atop the rankings.

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