Lil story about Venus and Shikha's past
Here's part of a good story in this week's India Abroad newspaper:
The sisters are in demand as hitting partners, because they combine a certain laid-back irreverence off court with a focused seriousness on it, whether at practice or in match-play. It is an attitude that has made them friends - big-name friends such as the legendary Martina Navratilova, who emails them hints, suggestions, advice and encouragement and to whom they turn when they want someone who has been there, done that, to help them make sense of it all. And the Williams sisters, both of whom seek them out as hitting partners when the tour puts them in the same place, same time.
On tour, friendships are made in strange ways. "September 11, 2001, Shikha and I were flying home from a tournament in Atlanta when the terrorist attacks happened. Our plane had to land in Jacksonville. Venus Williams was on her way home after winning the US Open," Neha recalls.
"It was chaos at the airport. We were trying to find a way home. We saw Venus Williams waiting in line for a rental car. Venus had come and hit with us once before and she remembered us. I asked her if we could possibly get a ride home with her, since she lives 15 minutes away from us in Florida. The car rental service gave her a huge 20-passenger van -- the thought of the three of us in that huge vehicle had us laughing all the way home."
"We didn't really know her too well at that time, but she was very friendly, and was talking to us about India. Suddenly she mentioned that she loved Bhindi Masala. Shikha and I were so shocked that she knew that dish -- I mean, Americans usually say they like curry or kebabs or Samosas. So we called mom and asked her to make Bhindi Masala because Venus was coming home for dinner. Mom made a huge Indian meal, and Venus sat with us and ate it all -- it was amazing that on that day, in that way, we met one of our role models."
That meeting has blossomed into a friendship -- as much of one as is possible, the sisters say, when you are constantly on the road, traveling and playing at widely different levels. It has also led to a standing joke, with Venus' sister Serena nagging the Uberoi girls about when they were going to host her to a similar meal.
Tennis is Life.
Wimbledon 00, 01, 05, 07, 08
US Open 00, 01