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  Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Williams duo leave the rest behind
New Wimbledon champion Serena Williams
Serena and sister Venus are streets ahead of the rest

And so Serena Williams is crowned Wimbledon champion.

No prizes for predicting that outcome at the beginning of the fortnight.

It used to be that in the first week we would see the odd upset or tight match, but the titanic tussles would emerge in the second week.


Of the leading contenders, few emerge with a positive report card
That was probably true a year ago, when the Williams sisters were yet to find the consistency to match their awesome power.

But if this Wimbledon is a sign of things to come, the future is anything but enticing.

Not a single women's match has managed to capture the imagination.

All four quarter-finals were won in straight sets, Venus and Serena Williams dropping just seven games between them, and the semi-finals were if anything even more one-sided.

There were occasional bright spots, not least for the British public.

Elena Baltacha's run to the third round was impressive and her level-headed attitude to the inevitable thunderstorm of publicity showed she will not be content unless she can build on those wins.

Daniela Hantuchova
Hantuchova is emerging as a real talent

Daniela Hantuchova continued her meteoric rise after winning her debut title in Indian Wells, and a game which mixes power and intelligence will make her a mainstay in the top 10 for some years.

But of the leading challengers, few emerge with a positive report card.

Jennifer Capriati, once the darling of the world's media for her re-birth in the sport, was strangely uninspired in the opening stages of the tournament.

She was comprehensively beaten in the last eight by Amelie Mauresmo, who made the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time since reaching the final of the Australian Open in 1999.

But the Frenchwoman, one of the few to possess the hitting power to stay with the Williams, was outclassed in the semi-finals, as was Justine Henin.

Blowing the competition away

Henin's compatriot, Kim Clijsters, would appear to be fading fast.

The engaging 19-year-old lost out in the second round to Elena Likhotseva, weeks after crashing out in the third round of the French Open.

Not the sort of form you expect from a player expected to be one of the few to challenge the Williams domination.

More worrying for her is a shoulder injury which may need surgery.

Jelena Dokic will also have been disappointed not to have at least lived up to her seeding and reached the last eight.

The third all-Williams final in less than a year
The third all-Williams final in less than a year

And with Monica Seles edging closer to retirement, and Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis out with long-term injuries, the challengers seem to be falling away at a worrying pace.

The Williams sisters deserve every credit for the way they have systematically blown the competition away.

But a pattern has developed whereby the "rest" are playing for the minor places, and they seem all too aware of it.

Consequently, the women's game has become as mind-numbingly predictable as the men's game was in the Pete Sampras-dominated 1990s.

If there is a positive for the future, it has to be the sheer quality produced by the Williams sisters.

As they continue to meet each other for Grand Slam titles, as they inevitably will, their increased rivalry may make for increasingly better finals.

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