Chris Evert's observation on the All Williams Final
PARIS, June 6 — It’s been an amazing French Open
for both Venus and Serena Williams, who will
square off in what I feel could be a great ladies’
singles title match on Saturday. With their superb
play here, the two rising stars have become the
first sister combination to attain the No. 1 and No.
2 world rankings and the first African-American
players to do so.
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SERENA MUST SHOW UP AGAINST VENUS
Nine months ago at the U.S. Open, Venus and Serena
achieved a historic first by reaching the final, which was a
star-studded affair off-court, but not exactly a memorable
match, as Serena was nervous and Venus ran right through
I suspect that their Saturday final at Roland Garros will
be played at a higher level because Serena says she’s tired of
just being the little sister and is ready to bring out her “A’
game against Venus.
Plus, the match will be played on clay, which should
guarantee longer rallies and a chance for the Parisian fans to
delight in the girls’ amazing athleticism. It could be the
greatest match in history, but to become that it will have to
break from the past history between the sisters. To date,
none of their seven matches have been well played (Venus
owns a 5-2 record against Serena). Let’s hope that on the
red clay we see them both at the top of their games. Great
tennis would be the result.
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DISPLAYING THE HEART OF A CHAMPION
In Serena’s semifinal today against Jennifer Capriati, I
gave the edge going in to Capriati, who won the French last
year. For nearly two sets, it looked like my prediction would
come true. But Serena prevailed with an emotional 3-6, 7-6
(2), 6-2 victory.
Both women opened
up their lungs and ran
circles around the court,
never giving up on a ball.
Like in their previous
matches, they blasted big
balls from the baseline and
tested resolves in long
rallies. Serena was slightly
more powerful in the first
set, but fell apart on the
big points, while Capriati
seemed to know when she
needed to size up an
After dropping the
first set, the 20-year-old Serena put her head down and
charged out to a 5-2 lead in the second. But Capriati wouldn’t
quit and raised her game to another level, throwing her body
all over the place to chase down Serena’s clever shots.
Capriati had the crowd and the momentum in her corner and
really needed to win the match before it went into the
Capriati appeared to have the match in hand at 6-5, but
Serena took it up another level and left Capriati in the dust.
SERENA’S MATURATION WAS EVIDENT
Serena didn’t get tight like she did in last year’s U.S.
Open final and she closed out the tiebreaker like a true
champion. In the third set, Serena kept humming balls toward
the corners while Capriati was too tired to put up much of a
struggle. Serena then closed out the match just like she
wanted to, ripping a backhand crosscourt winner.
I was very impressed by Serena’s mental toughness, the
way she maintained her aggressiveness even when she went
through patchy spots and how well she served the big points
in the second and third sets. She needed to prove herself at
Grand Slams and she certainly did that today.
If Capriati wants to stay with the Williams’ sisters, she’s
going to have to improve her serve, not be afraid of coming to
net against them and be more aggressive when the match is
nearly in hand.
VENUS HAD AN EASIER TIME OF IT
pushed nearly as hard
as Serena was in her
6-1, 6-4 win over
Fernandez, but as she
has done for most of
the past year, Venus
nailed the door shut
when her opponent
had an opening.
It looks like Venus and Serena’s father, Richard, was
right all along when he said more than a decade ago when
the girls were still in pigtails that they would be the two best
players in the world someday. That day looks like it may just