Williams article by Bud Collins
This monopoly is at 'Go'
Williamses leaving nothing to chance
By Bud Collins, Globe Columnist, 6/7/2002
ARIS - So, how's this for a bedtime story? Daddy tucks in his little girls with
the ''Tale of the Monopolistic Sisters.'' It's not Grimm - but far from grim.
Once upon the proverbial
time, it goes, two young
maidens, finding magic
wands in a vacant lot in
rundown Compton, Calif.,
discover that waving them
at anybody in their way
makes those folks
disappear. Eventually they
wind up conquering the
world of the yellow fuzzy
ball, and are declared a
monopoly. Only the
Supreme Court can bust
them up, but that will take
Daddy, of course, was Richard Williams. His daughter, Venus, says, ''When you're
little and your daddy tells you something, you love him and you believe him. And
here we are, Serena and me on top of the world. A small world. But it's real nice.
We were raised to do the best we could.''
Their best yesterday was Serena dethroning the champion and momentary No. 1,
Jennifer Capriati, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, and Venus toying with a gallant outsider,
Argentine Clarisa Fernandez, 6-1, 6-4.
For a decade or so, before they were even pros, Daddy Williams, thought by many
(underrating him) to be somewhat squirrely, has been telling that story of the
''Monopolistic Sisters'' to anybody who would listen, and at first it did sound like a
Presently and surely we knew that the Sisters Sledgehammer were extraordinary
wavers of the wands, Venus with four major titles and Serena one. However,
during a gray, cool afternoon, 15,716 observers packing Stade Roland Garros,
and millions of TV couchies, experienced the preposterous tale ringing true. And
better than Jack and the Beanstalk because both Venus and Serena have climbed
to the top of their realm - at Nos. 1-2, respectively - and will play tomorrow for
the French Open championship, one of the two majors thus far out of their reach.
Williams can't lose.
Theirs was a daily double payoff such as their game, called tennis, has never before
experienced in its 126 years of tournaments: Sisters not only advancing to a major
final but in doing so elevating themselves past all others in the hard, softwaring eyes
of Medusa, the computer governing the female professionals. Yes, they had
monopolistically collided in the US Open final last September. But at the time
Venus, the victor, was No. 4 and Serena No. 10.
Serena's was the tougher proposition yesterday, a battle that kept everybody in the
joint tense for 21/4 hours before Little Sister ripped a match-point backhand that
the gritty Capriati couldn't apprehend. For a long time it appeared that Serena, who
now has beaten Capriati five straight, including the recent Italian Open final, was
going to give it away.
She was strewing mistakes as though rose petals at a wedding, and squandering
break points like a carefree spendthrift - but never held back. ''Seventy-six errors?
That's scary. I make too many of them even when I win,'' Serena grinned after
outdoing Capriati by 16 in bungles. ''I must ameliorate that.''
Shouldn't we all?
Serving for the second set twice, and miserably, at 5-2 and 5-4, she found herself
at 5-6, four points from elimination.
''You know, I never think about losing. I just play the points without looking ahead
in a match,'' Serena explained. ''But at 5-6 I knew I had to do some serving, so as
to hurry into the tiebreaker.''
Which she did, winning serve at love (on three Capriati goofs), blasting through the
breaker, 7-2 - a run of 11 of the last 13 points, drawing even.
''Well, Serena played better at the end,'' sighed a deflated Capriati. ''There was so
much tension, you couldn't relax at all. Every point seemed to mean so much. More
so even than last year [her 1-6, 6-4, 12-10 title victory over Kim Clijsters in which
she was two points from defeat]. I got into a baseline rhythm with Kim, but you
can't do that with Serena. It's uneven against her.''
They kept escaping each other in the 41-minute third set, a stretch of long,
intriguing exchanges. Capriati ducked two break points to 1-1 and another pair to
2-2, and Serena a couple to 3-2. But Serena was breaking Capriati down, and
seized the last four games. Serena had her wayward forehand tamed by then, and
put down Capriati's last frantic bid by holding through four deuces and a breaker to
Two roaring Serenating backhands ended the Capriati reign at 6:37 in the evening,
leaving the court for Venus to complete the double against the charming
20-year-old lefthander from Cordoba.
Fernandez, No. 87, had wiped out Clijsters on her unlikely way to the semis.
Unsponsored, she was pleased that a clothing manufacturer gave her new duds for
the occasion and that she won $170,425, more than twice her career earnings. But
after 19 minutes with Venus, the first set and Fernandez were finished.
''My dad knows our ability,'' Serena concurred with Venus. ''He gave us dreams to
dream, of being the best. We didn't talk about it together, but we believed him.''
She laughed, ''Not that I dreamed of being No. 2. No. 1's the place. Venus has got
it, and I'm glad for her. But I've got my eye on it.''
Venus, leading the rivalry, 5-2, but loser the last time at Key Biscayne, Fla., smiled,
''I want Serena to be No. 1. But not for a while.''
They've played each other a million times. There are no secrets. ''The family wins,''
Venus said. ''My toughest opponent is Venus, and her toughest opponent is me,''
Not a bad bedtime story.
This story ran on page E9 of the Boston Globe on 6/7/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.