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  Sunday, 8 September, 2002, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
No stopping Serena
Serena Williams is congratulated by her sister Venus after US Open victory
Serena and Venus have four Grand Slam titles each

Not only did Serena Williams win a third straight Grand Slam title at the US Open on Saturday night, she did so without dropping a set.

Such was her domination over the two weeks that no-one even managed to take her to a tie-break.

I think mentally I'm not there as much
Venus Williams
In the space of a year there has been a major shift in power at the top of women's tennis.

Only 12 months ago it was Venus who cemented her place at the top of the rankings with a comprehensive win over her sister at Flushing Meadows.

It seemed that the elder sibling had asserted her authority over the younger.

But this year has seen the Williams' story work out as father Richard had predicted - with Serena fulfilling her promise in dramatic style.

  Serena v Venus
1998 - Aus Open, Venus, 7-6 6-1
1998 - Rome, Venus,
6-4 6-2
1999 - Florida, Venus,
6-1 4-6 6-4
1999 - Munich, Serena, 6-1 3-6 6-3
2000 - W'don, Venus,
6-2 7-6
2001 - US Open, Venus, 6-2 6-4
2002 - Miami, Serena,
6-2 6-2
2002 - Fr Open, Serena, 7-5 6-3
2002 - W'don, Serena, 7-6 6-3
2002 - US Op, Serena,
6-4 6-3
After the usual slow start to the year at the Australian Open - the one Grand Slam title to have eluded both sisters so far - Serena overcame an ankle injury to win in Scottsdale in February.

The floodgates really opened the following month in Miami when she beat Venus for the first time in three years, and only the second time in her career.

Team Williams finally made the breakthrough on clay when Serena won the Italian Open in May, and followed up by beating her sister in the final of the French Open.

It was the same story at Wimbledon, and Saturday's victory took Serena's record for the year to 44 wins and four losses, with five titles to her name in a relatively light schedule.

Criticism has been directed at both Williams sisters in the past for not playing enough tournaments, and their father has generally been seen as the man to blame.

Injuries and illness appeared to affect Serena, in particular, on a suspiciously regular basis as tournaments approached.

"I think she's had a great year," Venus said on Saturday. "She's had a great schedule as far as having enough rest."

For all his eccentricities and outspoken comments, Richard Williams has proved to be a master at charting his daughters' careers.

Despite the hype surrounding both Venus and Serena from a young age they have both been brought through slowly, almost held back for their own good.

They now know how to peak at exactly the right time - in the major championships.

Serena Williams
Richard Williams has carefully managed Serena's career
Serena has suffered surprise defeats this year to Justine Henin, Chanda Rubin and Meghann Saughnessy, but all in tour events.

When it came to the Grand Slams she was ready.

Physically, no other player on the tour can match her - including Venus - and that is why she looks set to dominate for years to come.

There are plenty of new young stars on the way through, notably from Russia, but none look to have anything approaching Serena's power.

Her huge serve is matched by unrivalled weight of shot off the ground and on return, as she demonstrated in the US Open final.

It would be no great surprise if her big sister left the sport behind in the near future to concentrate on her other interests.

"I think Serena's level is definitely more up than last year," said Venus.

"I think mentally I'm not there as much."

And if Venus feels unable to compete with Serena, it holds out little hope for the rest.

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