The sisters will state their case in family court
By Bud Collins, Globe Columnist, 7/5/2002
ONDON - Dr. Sigmund Freud, who dealt in couches well before they became the haunts of TV potato-heads, would have loved this nuttiest of all Wimbledons, his kind of tennis tournament.
Unfortunately, the good doctor is not around, having died in London in 1939, the year Bobby Riggs won, but leaving his celebrated couch behind and well preserved in his last earthly home.
Too bad Dr. Freud missed out on Riggs's later misogynistic rantings against the female tennis tour, a dementia that was cured in 1973 by Billie Jean King at the Astrodome. Her victory in the renowned ''Battle of the Sexes'' was a triumph of her volleying shock therapy over his vocal schlock therapy, whereafter Bobby settled down to became a lovable codger.
Surely Dr. Freud would have relished examining and analyzing Medusa, the Women's Tennis Association's computer, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Your everyday sports fanatic would say that Medusa is, to put it kindly, delusional.
Especially after hearing Medusa's printout pronouncement yesterday that Serena Williams is now No. 1 in the universe, replacing Venus Williams, a declaration that reduced Serena to ecstatic tears. (''I've dreamed about No. 1 for years.'')
Moreover, even if Venus retains her title by beating up on Little Sister in tomorrow's final, Serena will continue as No. 1.
A champion who comes in as No. 1 and repeats, yet goes home No. 2?
How cuckoo is that?
Medusa and her WTA handlers tried to explain it with slide rules, calculators, software, yardsticks, and abacuses, but I still don't get it. Put Medusa on the couch, doctor. Please. Immediately.
Dr. Freud undoubtedly would be charmed by the Venus-Serena sibling rivalry, and the ids, egos, and backhanded crosscourts and crosscurrents involved. He might reiterate his famous plaint: ''What does woman want?''
That's easy, doc. Venus wants to win, and she wants Serena to win. Serena wants to win, and she wants Venus to win.
Nice sentiment, but very difficult wish fulfillment when they are antagonists in the same match.
''I don't like to lose but I'm happy when Serena beats me,'' says Venus, discussing their third straight major intramural final.
''I don't like to lose, but I'm happy when Venus beats me,'' says Serena, discussing their third straight major intramural final.
So far, nobody on the sidelines has been happy because each sister might as well be playing against a brick wall, and the matches have come up clinkers. Eight times, with Venus ahead, 5-3.
The customers yearn for them to perform as brilliantly against each other as they did yesterday in demolishing semifinal pigeons: Venus over Justine Henin, 6-3, 6-2, in a rematch of the 2001 finale; Serena over Amelie Mauresmo, 6-2, 6-1. But it doesn't happen. Despite destructive flashes, the Sisters Sledgehammer are fragile in their approach to one another.
Dr. Freud would call that the homecookin' complex: You can't throw a cream pie in the face of someone you love who shares your dining room for a lifetime.
Listen to the battered losers, who had distinguished themselves throughout the tournament - until yesterday - but might as well have entered the Indy 500 with Edsels. Two semifinals haven't been so one-sided since 1958: champ Althea Gibson over Ann Haydon, 6-2, 6-0, and Angela Mortimer over Suzy Kormoczy, 6-1, 6-0.
''She was too strong, too good,'' says Henin of Venus. ''She wouldn't let me play.''
Mauresmo, who had sensationally iced Jennifer Capriati 24 hours before, says of Serena, ''It's not the same person as yesterday. I couldn't do nothing. I tried to do a few things, but just couldn't do nothing. You know, there's just nothing to do about it. But no regrets. That's just the way it is.''
Are we in for a series of unsuspenseful all-Williams major championship meetings, such as Venus winning the last US Open, 6-2, 6-4, or Serena winning the recent French Open, 7-5, 6-3, with everybody else lagging way behind?
''I think people could be bored by it,'' says Mauresmo.
Or will Williams vs. Williams turn into a captivating, long-running feud like that fought by Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova over 16 years and 80 encounters between 1973 and 1988?
''It was easier for us,'' says Evert. ''We weren't sisters.''
If you asked Dr. Freud about it, he would reply, ''I can sense mass hysteria enveloping the ladies' tour, and nights of increasingly troubling dreams. Yes, anxiety dreams in which your towering adversary smashes cannonballs at you and your racket suddenly turns into a celery stalk.''
Might Medusa's brain, sputtering and whirring in all its computations, soon tell us that Venus and Serena are in a deadly dead-heat at co-No. 1?
Will the answers be clearer or further muddled tomorrow on Centre Court (a.k.a. Williams Park)?
Dr. Freud's likely prescription for players' mental health: ''Stay as far out of Venus and Serena's way as possible. Lie on a couch with the rest of us potato-heads and watch them at a safe distance.''
This story ran on page C1 of the Boston Globe on 7/5/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.