Even in rivalry, Venus and Serena stay good sports - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old Sep 3rd, 2002, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Talking Even in rivalry, Venus and Serena stay good sports

We finally get to see Venus - thanks to God! The sun has really shown and shined up for her today, w/all its brilliant rays. IMO - Venus brought the visor to the forefront. Clearly - she wore it to accessorize and to keep the sun from her eyes. Amy started wearing it long before Venus.





A Classy Sister Act
Even in rivalry, Venus and Serena stay good sports

Famous Siblings
Aug 30, 2002

Top Stories

By Denise Flaim

September 3, 2002

It prompted Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland to turn away when her sister Joan Fontaine offered backstage congratulations at the 1947 Academy Awards.

It created a no-talk zone between Michael Jackson and sister Janet when her sales soared and his slumped in the late '90s.

It raged for decades between the late advice maven Esther Lederer and her sister Pauline Phillips (better known as Ann Landers and Dear Abby), whose two daughters are now continuing their mothers' icy interaction.

And Cain and Abel - well, you know how that turned out.

Sibling rivalry is as old as the ages, as ubiquitous as bad poetry. And in recent weeks, the sports pages have been filled with two seemingly natural prospects for the sport of family feuding - tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

Their situation, after all, is ripe for conflict: Serena, the younger sister, is the No. 1 ranked female player in the country; the elder Venus is right behind her. Separated in age by only 15 months, and neck in neck in determination, the two faced each other in three of the last four Grand Slam finals. And they might very well find themselves on opposite sides of the net at the U.S. Open later this week.

But sportswriters and tennis groupies look on in vain for significant signs of strife between the two sisters, who, when they are not training in tandem, are either shopping together or kicking around their Palm Beach, Fla., compound, "La Maison des Soeurs" - "The House of the Sisters."

"Maybe people should not assume that if competing publicly would be awkward for us it's awkward for them," says Peter Goldenthal, a clinical psychologist from Wayne, Pa., and the author of "Why Can't We Get Along?" (Wiley, $14.95) and "Beyond Sibling Rivalry" (Owl Books, $14). "Maybe they relish it."

When you're competing at that stratospheric a level - No. 1 and No. 2 in the world - perhaps you've reached so high a bar that the exact rank doesn't matter. But Goldenthal points to Lederer and Phillips to blow that theory: Both hugely successful, both with their own identities and followings, the twins' rocky relationship was especially ironic considering that their life work involved writing newspaper columns about how to get along with those near and dear.

In explaining the Williams phenomenon, Judy Van Raalte, an associate professor of psychology at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., and a specialist in sport psychology, points to something called "self-evaluation maintenance theory."

"Basically, if you have a psychologically close other, and you are outperformed by that person" in an activity or arena that matters to you, there are three possible ways to manage the resulting anxiety, Van Raalte says.

The first option - reducing the relevance of the performance ("Who cares about tennis, I want to be a fashion model") isn't an option for the Williams sisters. The second, reducing your closeness to the other person ("I'll find new friends"), is an option many famous siblings have taken, but it's equally as bad an idea for the duo, who play together in doubles.

Which leaves option three: Reduce the performance gap.

"That seems to be what happens with them," says Van Raalte. "They're pushing each other, and they both train harder. And they can say to themselves, 'Although she got this grand slam [title], I got that one.'"

Also, adds Van Raalte, tennis is a sport filled with "high level" siblings families, from the McEnroes (John and Patrick) to the Washingtons (MaliVai, Mashiska and Mashona). Whether that's attributable to genetics or opportunity or both, it leads to a degree of closeness, since "you have great training partners, and always have someone to play with." Most other pursuits, such as acting in the case of the seemingly uncountable Baldwin brothers, or even other sports, such as football and the NFL twins, Tiki Barber of the New York Giants and Ronde Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, don't have such an emphasis on partnering in order to practice.

Turning away from the shrink's couch for a moment, Pat Bramwell, a sport psychology consultant and licensed counselor from Staten Island, thinks the Williamses' sibling revelry instead of rivalry is just good sportsmanship.

"I believe that's competition at its truest, purest form. They're modeling what competition used to be and should be again," she says. "It's like a dance, and it's all about beauty and joy, and I believe they know that. If you're really good at something, you want the best competition, even if you don't win."

Indeed, the impressions that stay with onlookers are the sisters' jubilance in each other's achievements. Acknowledging that "we don't know what's real and what's not" with the very stage-managed siblings, Van Raalte remembers the French Open in June, when Serena beat her big sister.

In response, Venus grabbed her mother's camera and dove in among the professional photographers to capture her sister's trophy-lifting moment of glory.

"That," Van Raalte says, "is a lovely thing."

Some Siblings in the Spotlight

Sports Siblings

Hank and Tommy Aaron (baseball)

Sandy and Roberto Alomar (baseball)

Tiki and Ronde Barber (football)

Dizzy and Daffy Dean (baseball)

Vince, Dominic and Joe DiMaggio (baseball)

Phil and Tony Esposito (hockey)

Tim and Tom Gullikson (tennis)

Phil and Steve Mahre (skiing)

John and Patrick McEnroe (tennis)

Phil and Joe Niekro (baseball)

Jim and Gaylord Perry (baseball)

Shannon and Sterling Sharpe (football)

Leon and Michael Spinks (boxing)

Dick and Tom Van Arsdale


Lloyd and Paul Waner (baseball)

MaliVai, Mashiska and Mashona Washington (tennis)

Gerald and Dominique Wilkins (basketball)

Celebrity Siblings

James Arness and Peter Graves

Alec, Billy, Daniel and Stephen Baldwin

Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine

Beau and Jeff Bridges

Jeb and George W. Bush

Jackie and Joan Collins

Macaulay, Kieran and Rory Culkin

Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine

Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen

Peter and Jane Fonda

Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor

Michael and Janet Jackson

Crystal Gayle and Loretta Lynn

George and Ira Gershwin

Esther Lederer and Pauline Phillips

Branford and Wynton


Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Gummo and Zeppo Marx

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Donny and Marie Osmond

Dennis and Randy Quaid

Julia and Eric Roberts

Dick and Tom Smothers
Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc.

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old Sep 3rd, 2002, 05:21 PM
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GogoGirl - thanks for an insightful article.
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