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Venus downs Clijsters to avenge sister

Serena Williams' injured leg kept her from a chance to avenge her US Open loss to Kim Clijsters, so sister Venus took care of the job yesterday.

Venus Williams defeated Clijsters 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 at Madison Square Garden to win the Billie Jean King Cup in the BNP Paribas Showdown.

Serena Williams withdrew a week ago because of her leg, ending hope of what would have been the first meeting between her and Clijsters since the US Open semi-finals in September when Clijsters went on to win the championship.

The 26-year-old Belgian struggled early against the elder Williams before finding a groove in front of a Venus-friendly crowd of 11,702 in the second set.

Williams broke Clijsters in the first game and then held each of her serves to win the first set. In the second set, Williams again won the first two games but got sloppy, volleying one break point wide and hitting another past the baseline. Clijsters held her serve to win the set .

Williams was down 3-4 in the final set but broke back when Clijsters hit a volley into the net on break point. The pair held their serve the rest of the way until Clijsters, down 15-40, hit the break point long to hand Williams the win and $400,000 of the $1.2m prize money.

"I always feel really confident on match point," Williams said. "At quadruple match point I felt nice."

King did not attend the exhibition because she is recovering from a recent double-knee replacement.

Before the final, the International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees Gigi Fernandez, Owen Davidson and Brad Parks were introduced on court. They are part of the 2010 class that includes doubles specialists Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde and Natasha Zvereva.