Doha // Serena Williams last night became the six million dollar woman but there was nothing bionic about the performance she produced to overcome her sister Venus in the final of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championships. The US$1.55million (Dh5.68m) cheque she collected for winning for winning this tournament for the second time took Serena's earnings for the year to a massive $6,173,711 and raised her total since she and her sister exploded on to the tennis scene a decade ago to a staggering $28m.
It was the 23rd time the Californian siblings have met as professionals and the 11th time they have contested a final. They have put on better shows than this one, though, because both of them were calling on the last dregs of their considerable stamina reserves after what has been an exhausting final commitment of the season. Four of their rivals for this prestigious honour failed to complete matches during the week and there was an inescapable feeling around the Khalifa Complex court that one of these powerful Americans would add their name to the casualty list.
From the very first point it was apparent that the mobility that has made the sisters such formidable figures on the circuit was lacking. The heavy strapping of the legs is nothing new but this time the bandages seemed to be protecting damaged limbs more than ever. Happily for the benefit big crowd both sisters managed to keep their creeping frames intact for the 85 minutes it took Serena to complete her 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) victory and improve her personal record against Venus to 13-10.
It was the perfect way for Serena to endorse her newly regained status of world No 1 which she will take with her to Melbourne in January when she is due to defend her Australian Open crown. Delighted to have won back the top ranking from Dinara Safina, who managed to compete here for only 13 minutes, Serena celebrated in style by winning all three of her group matches and then benefiting from the retirement of her fatigued semi-final opponent Caroline Wozniacki.
She beat Venus in the second of her group matches here - a tight match that went all the way to a deciding set tie-break - and rarely looked like allowing her sister to take revenge. A break in the third game followed by another in the seventh brought the opening set to a rapid conclusion and suggested that another 30-minute set would follow. Venus refused to bow out meekly from a tournament she won with such style a year ago and raised her level of performance considerably in an attempt to make the margin of defeat more respectable.
Both players put a heavy premium on serving powerfully in an attempt to shorten the rallies in the second set and the tie-break stage was reached without either player conceding a break point. Once Serena fashioned a "mini-break" in the first point of that shoot-out the momentum was firmly with her, even though Venus fought grimly to retrieve the situation. A double fault which made the score against her 1-4 proved to be the decisive moment in the latest episode of a family saga which began at the 1998 Australian Open.
A blistering ace earned Serena two match points and she required only the first of them, clinching her impressive triumph with a tremendous forehand winner. It would have been unjust for a below-par Venus to have retained this title, however. She managed only one victory in the group stages and became only the second player after Amelie Mauresmo in 2003 to advance from that round-robin format after two defeats.