CHARLESTON, S.C. Venus Williams helped Washington catch up, then beat Coco Vandeweghe in a last-set tiebreaker as the Kastles edged the Capitals 20-19 Sunday in the WTT Finals to complete their second straight undefeated season.
The triumph capped a long, hard season for Williams, who has learned to compete while living with Sjrogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that sidelined her from September 2011 through last March.
Williams felt fit, confident and determined.
"I really felt like I came out on fire in all my matches," said Williams, named the WTT Finals MVP.
Williams got plenty of work at the Family Circle Tennis Center to wrap up Washington's second consecutive 16-0 season and third title in four years.
She and Anastasia Rodionova won in women's doubles to put Washington in front 8-6. After Sacramento took the men's doubles to lead 11-10, Williams and Leander Paes won in mixed doubles in a tiebreaker to tie the score 15-15 and send the match into a women's singles showdown.
Vandeweghe broke Williams' serve to lead 3-2, but Williams broke right back, and the match eventually went to a best-of-nine point tiebreaker. Vandeweghe led 2-0 when Washington called time out. Paes jogged over to talk with the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion.
"I just told her she's one of the greatest of all time," Paes said. "Go have fun and hit your shots."
That's what Williams did, winning the next five points including an ace down the middle to set up match point. Vandeweghe sent a final forehand long to start Washington's celebration, Williams swarmed by teammates before doing her own little happy dance to the delight of the fans.
Just don't mistake Williams' moves for the "Crip Walk" steps little sister Serena did at the Olympics.
"I have my own little combo," Venus Williams said. "The Venus combo."
Vandeweghe slammed her racket down in frustration after the final shot went long. Vandeweghe was part of Sacramento's mixed doubles team with Mark Knowles that lost that tiebreaker.
"You know, a lot of the times it comes down to missing one opportunity on a three-all point," Vandeweghe said. "That's what makes it fun to play World TeamTennis. Winning those opportunities is more fun than losing them."
Williams, 32, has dealt with fatigue and joint pain and learned the regimen to keep her healthy and playing high-quality tennis.
But she has struggled to find the singles form that won her five Wimbledon and two U.S. Open crowns.
She has taken satisfaction in succeeding in group ventures, such as teaming with Serena to win Olympic doubles gold in London and helping the Kastles to another WTT title.
"It's my first World Team Tennis title in 12 years," she said. "It's amazing."
WORLD TEAMTENNIS PLAYOFFS
Washington 20, Capitals 19
KASTLES 20, CAPITALS 19
Men's singles: Kevin Anderson, Capitals, def. Bobby Reynolds, Kastles, 5-3.
Women's doubles: Ariana Rodionova and Venus Willams, Kastles, def. Yasmin Schnack and Asia Muhammad, Capitals, 5-1.
Men's doubles: Mark Knowles and Kevin Anderson, Capitals, def. Bobby Reynolds and Leander Paes, Kastles, 5-2.
Mixed doubles: Leander Paes and Venus Williams, Kastles, def. Mark Knowles and Coco Vandeweghe, Capitals, 5-4.
Women's singles: Venus Williams, Kastles, def. Coco Vandeweghe, Capitals, 5-4.