Want to send this story to another AOL member? Click on the heart at the top of this window.
Tennis-Wimbledon-Williams no longer invincible - Navratilova
LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) - The Williams sisters Serena and Venus may have lost their aura of invincibility in women's tennis for good, according to nine-times former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova.
Venus, Wimbledon champion in 2000 and 2001 and runner-up to Serena in 2002 and 2003, was beaten by Croatian Karolina Sprem in the second round at this year's Wimbledon and lost in the French Open quarter-finals with Serena earlier this month.
Venus has not won a grand slam since her 2001 U.S. Open win and Navratilova said: "It seems the Williams sisters have lost the aura of invincibility they once had.
"Neither of them has it right now, but I think Venus in particular hasn't had it for a while.
"She's lost confidence in herself and the rest of the players realise when that happens that they have a chance."
Writing in The Guardian newspaper on Saturday, 47-year-old Navratilova added: "Winning and losing is a habit. The winning habit that Venus had is gone and with it, naturally, the aura of invincibility.
"I think that disappeared when she began to lose regularly to Serena, as she did in the last two Wimbledon finals and as she has in three other grand slam finals in the last two years."
"That's what got to her first because she knew that she had everyone else covered but she could never beat her sister.
"I don't know how introspective Venus is or how much she thinks about things but I would say that devastated her more than she let on and perhaps more than even she knows.
"The Williams sisters used to be able to back it up and now they can't and no matter how much swagger you've got, if you don't back it up with your game, then it's all just a bunch of smoke and people don't fall for that for very long," she said.
Navratilova matched Venus's performance at Wimbledon this year by reaching the second round of the singles. She believes the two sisters need to forget their dress designing and other outside distractions if they want to re-establish their dominance.
"The good news for Venus is that the downward spiral may not be permanent, though you can only retrieve the aura of invincibility by winning," Navratilova said.
"Tennis has to be the only thing in your life. You can have a hobby that you do last thing at night if you like but you can't be scheduling your tennis around your hobbies.
"You can have outside interests but tennis has to be firmly number one. It has to be the most important thing and I don't get the feeling that it was for either Venus or Serena.
"It's almost as though the winning came so easily that they almost got distracted and sooner or later that is going to catch up with you. I think it's already caught up with Venus and it may have caught up with Serena as well. I hope not."
06/26/04 08:07 ET