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BEIJING 2008

Sisters win doubles gold

Venus and Serena Williams beat Spanish duo, 6-2, 6-0, repeat what they did eight years ago at Games.

August 18, 2008|Bill Dwyre | Times Staff Writer

BEIJING -- Put an Olympic gold medal in front of the Williams sisters, send them out to play doubles, and they are like kids in a candy store.

For the second time in two tries, Venus and Serena won the doubles gold, beating a team from Spain here Sunday at the Olympic tennis complex. They did the same thing eight years ago in Sydney. And they did it in similar fashion Sunday.

Their final victory here was 6-2, 6-0, over Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual. The final in Sydney was 6-1, 6-1, over the Dutch team of Kristie Boogert and Miriam Oremans.

Both matches took about an hour. Neither was dripping with drama.

The second set Sunday took 29 minutes, most of it consisting of Venus Williams -- the best player on the court by far this day -- cranking service returns for winners or poaching for put-away volleys.

The rest of it was taken up by Ruano Pascual, having her left thigh attended to and taped. She pulled a hamstring muscle and was slowed after that. Not that it seemed to matter much, anyway. The Williamses won 57 points; the Spaniards, 31. In the second set, it was 24-9.

Among the highlights were the Spanish fans, who were determined to have fun, even if their team wasn't. While Ruano Pascual was being attended to, a group of about 20 of them left their seats, circled the stadium along the first deck in a singing conga line and had a grand old time.

"We thought it was cool," Serena Williams said. "They were having so much fun, we thought we should join them."

The victory by the Williams sisters made it five of six for U.S. women since tennis rejoined the Olympics in Seoul in 1988.

Pam Shriver and Zina Garrison won then, followed by Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez, who are not related, in the next two Olympics, followed by the Williamses in 2000.

In Athens, Serena Williams decided not to play at the last minute, and Venus played with Chanda Rubin and lost in an early round. The Chinese team of Li Ting and Sun Tian-Tian won, beating Ruano Pascual and Conchita Martinez.

Sunday's victory allowed the Williams sisters a well-deserved moment of mutual admiration.

Of playing with her sister Serena, Venus said, "It never grows old. I was literally born with a doubles partner. She never minds if I miss a shot or two."

Serena said, "I don't know anyone who would get tired of playing with Venus Williams."

The doubles gold medal kept the women's competition here from being a total Russian show.

Elena Dementieva led the Russian sweep in singles, taking the gold by beating Dinara Safina. In the bronze-medal match, Vera Zvonareva beat China's Li Na. The doubles bronze went to China's Yan Zi and Zheng Jie.

Dementieva had a previous shot at Olympic gold but lost in the final in Sydney. Her opponent?

That noted doubles player, Venus Williams.

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bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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