Venus and Serena Would Demolish McEnroe
Rick Reilly---Sports Illustrated
You cannot be serious, John McEnroe. You cannot mean what you say in your new book. You cannot actually believe you can beat one of the Williams sisters.
You were great. You were three exits past great. But you would get fried, flambéed and fricasseed. They would stomp you, sweep you up and send you home in an earring box.
Did you see the way Sisters Sledgehammer wowed Wimbledon last Saturday in the all-Williams final? Londoners haven't seen that many rockets since World War II. Serena hit a serve 112 mph. Venus hit one 111. You rarely ever got one to 110, Mac, and that was three hairlines ago.
Did you see the way they moved? They cover more grass than fairway mowers. They're quicker than rent money and get to more balls than the duchess of Kent. We'd wish you the best, Mac, but you'd lose in straight sets. Really, to make it fair, you'd have to get the doubles lines.
You should play one of them, though, just for comic relief. Please? Just pick one.
Would you choose the voluptuous Serena, who beat her older sister for the Wimbledon title 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 and is now the single most charming figure in women's sports?
Or would you try your luck with the leggy Venus, the goddess with such reach that she picked balls out of spectators' Pimm's cups all week? In other words, would you like to get run over by a road paver or a wheat combine?
This Sister Act is the best thing to happen to tennis since you and Bjorn. They're Jehovah's Witnesses, so they don't celebrate their birthdays, but we should. They're a gift to this country. They're funny. They're smart. They speak a little French. They design their own dresses and look ravishing in them. And they play a kind of whomping, racing, thrilling tennis never before played by people in skirts.
Look how the girls have grown. They've blown away every lame criticism thrown at them. Insular? They are now distinct personalities with their own sets of friends. Cocky? Nothing but bluebirds come out of their mouths these days. Throwing matches against each other? Are you kidding? Serena screamed, exulted and abused her racket throughout the final. After Venus lost, she looked like she might cry, even when she had to go out and play with Serena in a doubles semifinal an hour later. (They cruised to the doubles title on Sunday, of course.)
Do you realize how hard it is on them, when they have to face each other with a Grand Slam title on the line? How would you like to have to ruin the dreams of your best friend, your home roomie, your road roomie, your favorite schoolmate, your favorite hitting partner and your closest sister, all at once? Hell, yes, it's hard. But they did it last Saturday, played a killer match, gave it their all, from their tiaras to their toes, the best battle of the fortnight by far.
And one minute after it was over, Venus took Serena aside and whispered to her, "Remember, when you accept the plate, you have to curtsy to the duchess." Isn't it great to have your older sister around during sticky moments?
A Williams Wimbledon is an easy Wimbledon. Easy on the engraver. (He had the williams carved the night before.) Easy on the announcer. ("Game, Miss Williams.") Easy on the family-and-friends box. (Everybody knows one another!)
It's so ... fascinating. No two siblings in history have dominated their sport the way these two are dominating tennis. Not the DiMaggios. Not the Mahres. Not the Unsers. The only sisters who came close were Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers, who cornered the advice market.
Now Serena takes home the unfortunately named Venus Rosewater Dish as Wimbledon queen and sets it next to her sister's pair in the trophy room at the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., house they share. "At least I can still walk by and see it," the runner-up said wryly afterward.
Serena also snatched No. 1 out of her sister's purse. Can you imagine? Venus can't even say she's the best player in the house now! You just know they'll trade that top ranking back and forth like a dress that fits both. "Do you mind if I borrow Number 1 tonight? I've got a date!"
Sorry, Mac, but even in a strapless Valentino, mesh stockings and spike heels, either of them would kick your butt and not even have to freshen up afterward.
Issue date: July 15, 2002