For me, it was also way back in 1997 during the US Open. I had always been interested in tennis but I did not really follow it maybe because when I was growing up, there was no TV, pay channels and stuff. The only news we'd get were that from newspapers.
In 1996, I started hearing about a certain " Swiss Doll' who'd taken the world by storm in reaching the world number 1 spot. I think, Steffi Graf was injured in that year.My interest in tennis grew but it was not strong. I was 16 that time and was still very interested in rugby and athletics. I was a major fan of athletics being a high school track athelete myself. In 1997, I remember it was just the week after Princess Diana's funeral( The whole of Fiji had been mourning the death of the regal princess). I was sitting with my sister on the sofa watching the local news on TV ( Fiji only started having TV in 1990...but television programmes have developed a lot ever since).
The news reader mentioned that Martina Hingis had just won the US Open beating an unseeded American Venus Williams. They displayed Martina playing her opponent. What struck me straight away was the skin colour of her opponent even though she was playing at the far end of the court from the screen. I asked my sister..." Is the girl black?" She was not really sure but she jsut mentioned: " I hope so!" I replied: " I hope so too!" The camera than zoomed in on this player and "wow!" she was black. My sister and I for some reason just jumped up. I said:" wow! at last a black person in tennis!" I was marvelled by how 'she' was streching from corner to corner" while playing Hingis. Venus' atheleticism was just incredible and she immediately won my heart. Ever since that day, I started following her, gathering news items about her etc etc.
I did not know Venus had a sister until 1998 when reading a local newsppaper, I learnt tha Venus would face her sister Serena in a preliminary match at the Australian Open. I was like: " Wow! she has a sister?@!" My interest in the sisters and tennis grew and grew. By 1999, I had learnt all the tennis rules and by 2000, I was well acquianted with all sisters oppponents names and so on. My interest in athletics and rugby just died out. In 1999, I also came to learn that there were four grand slams in tennis which were contested every year. Previously, I was only aware of Wimbledon.
Now, I'm the biggest tennis fan in the world and I am so greatly indebted to these two beautiful and extraordinary young ladies who have made me fall so obsessively in love with a sport that I hardly knew anything about. The Williams sisters are and will always be my favourite tennis players.