Game on again for Williams Sisters
By Anthony Cotton
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated:11/30/2006 12:13:06 AM MST
Former No. 1-ranked tennis pros Venus, left,
and Serena Williams play an exhibition match
at 7:30 p.m. today at the Broomfield Event Center.
(Getty Images / Kevin Winter)
At some point during the 2007 season, as Venus and Serena Williams are making what they promise will be a journey back to the top of the tennis heap, it's possible that they'll look back at a snowy stop in Denver as a turning point.
While certainly not an official WTA event, the sisters, whose recent activities have included just about everything but the game itself, are returning to the court. After spending the day at a number of charitable functions, the duo, who have a combined 59 tournament singles victories, including 12 Grand Slam titles, are scheduled to meet in an exhibition at the Broomfield Event Center.
"We like to get competitive, because we like for the people to get the real deal,"
Tonight is the initial stop on the third annual Williams Sisters Tour. After Denver, they will play in New Orleans and Charlotte, N.C.
In each of its manifestations, the sisters say they chose cities where their fans haven't had the opportunity to see them - which could reasonably apply to just about anywhere after a disappointing 2006 season.
While both players have been No. 1 in the world rankings, both in 2002, Venus ended this year ranked No. 47 in singles. Serena, who was No. 3 in 2003 and No. 11 in 2005, has dropped all the way to No. 93.
Both have battled injuries - a knee injury ended Serena's season in August, Venus had wrist and elbow problems throughout the year. Overall, Venus played in 19 singles matches in 2006, going 13-6; Serena was 12-4 in her 16 matches.
While absent from the courts, they continued to make a splash elsewhere. Both have invested a great deal into launching their own apparel lines. Venus is dabbling in songwriting, and Serena has made a number of acting appearances in recent years.
All the off-court hubbub has periodically caused others in the game to question the sisters' dedication to the sport. In an interview with The Denver Post this summer, Billie Jean King wondered whether Serena in particular, "really wants to stay in the game and try to be No. 1, or is she just playing it out?"
In a teleconference with reporters earlier this week, Serena said she indeed is planning to once again climb to the top.
"I love tennis - it's what I do,"
she said. "The injuries have been frustrating, but I can't wait to get back out there. My main goal in life is to be a great tennis player. I wouldn't play if I didn't want to be No. 1 again."
During the sisters' recent slide, the interest in tennis has seemed to shift away from the women's game and moved toward the men, with Roger Federer's dominance and the charisma of James Blake and Rafael Nadal taking center stage.
However, the sisters insist, that will change, beginning tonight in Colorado.
"Having myself and Venus back on the tour will obviously make a bit of a difference,"
Serena said. "I think that will help things out."
Highlights: Winner of 26 career WTA singles and 10 doubles titles. ... Has won more than $16 million in career. ... Currently ranked No. 93 in the world in singles, was No. 1 as recently as July 2002. ... Has seven Grand Slam titles - two Australian, Wimbledon and U.S. Opens, one French Open. ... Won four straight Grand Slam tournament singles titles (2002 French, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, 2003 Australian Open) becoming fifth woman all-time to hold all four titles at once (Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf) and ninth to win each in her career.
Highlights: Winner of 33 career WTA singles and nine doubles titles. ... Has won more than $16 million in career. ... Currently ranked No. 47 in the world in singles, was No. 1 as recently as February 2002. ... Has five Grand Slam titles - three Wimbledon and two U.S. Opens. Wimbledon win in 2005 came as No. 14 seed - the lowest seed to win championship.
Noteworthy: They are the first sisters to each have won Grand Slam titles. ... Venus won the Olympic gold in singles and teamed with Serena for the gold in doubles (2000).
Anthony Cotton can be reached at 303-954-1292 or firstname.lastname@example.org