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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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Great Article on Venus & Serena

For Sisters, Ambivalence Overshadows Performance
By WILLIAM C. RHODEN

The New York Times

How can anyone who watched Venus Williams dispatch Amélie Mauresmo and Serena Williams blast her way past Lindsay Davenport yesterday do anything but say amen?

The Williams sisters are the higher bar in women's tennis: fashion, style, power, precision. Still, there is this persistent ambivalence about the sisters.

Venus held off Mauresmo, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, in the first United States Open semifinal; Serena rode a monster serve and beat Davenport, 6-3, 7-5. Now comes the challenge. They meet tonight for the fourth time in a Grand Slam final amid renewed complaints that they don't play exciting championship matches against each other.

Against the rest of the world, they play an aggressive, take-no-prisoners approach; against each other, critics say, they play polite tennis.The crux of the problem, if you can call it that, is love.

Someone asked Venus if tonight's championship match would be different, if she would be able to put aside "the sister stuff" and play Serena like any other opponent.

Venus asked: "Where's the problem?"

The reporter said that before, there almost seemed to be too much love. Venus arched her eyebrows. "Too much love?" she said, and left it at that.

The Williams sisters' dominance has caused a crisis, or at least angst, in tennis circles. Tennis fans are deeply divided. There are those who love excellence and want to see the No. 1 and 2 players face each other in the championship round. Others feel great players playing lackluster finals hurts tennis.

Venus Williams reacted defensively when asked where she stood on the issue. "I don't see why the question could be relevant, why it would be bad for tennis," she said. Venus noted that before she and her sister began dominating championship play, this question never came up. "It's never been asked before," she said.

That's precisely the point. The question has never been asked before because no siblings have done what Venus and Serena are in the process of doing.

We're all trying to put our minds around a stunning evolution: two sisters who four years ago were sympathetic underdogs. Now they virtually own the franchise. They have found their way and blazed a new path, a path so grueling that none of their peers can negotiate.

So the best fans can do is criticize the Williams sisters and try to pull them back to earth.

"It's just hard these days," Venus said. "When you win, there's a problem. When you lose, there's a problem. So what do you want me to do?"

Venus was down by 0-40 while leading, 5-4, in the third set. Fans loudly cheered for Mauresmo. Why? Williams is the defending champion, but Mauresmo was the underdog. Oracene Williams, the sisters' mother, said she felt the crowd reaction had racist overtones. Cheering against the defending champion, cheering double faults.

Oracene Williams said she felt the crowd was reacting not just to this match but to a pair of strong African-American women. "I've been thinking about it and I think that's it." She said she did not sense antipathy toward James Blake. "I guess women can't have power, no matter what race it is. That's a problem in America. It's ridiculous."

The issue is a bit more complex than that, but race is at the core. I have no doubt that if Jennifer Capriati or Davenport had a sister who was as great as she was and they ruled tennis the way Venus and Serena rule, the embrace would be overwhelming and positive. There would be no ambivalence about their playing each other.

At the same time, you can go mad thinking about this nonsense. Are the crowds cheering against Venus or they pulling for Mauresmo? Cheering the underdog or pulling against a Williams sisters rematch?

The sisters have turned a corner, and so have I; so have a lot of us. My heart is no longer in my throat when Venus and Serena play. This was not the case four years when every stroke, every passing shot, every crowd reaction seemed like a veiled referendum on women, African-Americans, two unique newcomers to a country club sport. The beads, the braids, the style, the novelty of it all were intense and bursting with implications for race and gender.

Racism and sexism are indelibly stitched into the fabric of our ambitious democracy. If you are a woman, if you are African-American, you have to work harder, longer, be twice as good to get as much. If you are African-American and a woman, you'd better be Venus or Serena. They play better, harder, longer and with more precision and power than any other female player on the tour.

Like it or not — and I love it — we will get Venus and Serena again tonight. We'll get them until someone finds a way to do better.

And I don't want to hear another complaint about wanting to see something different. Trust me: you already are.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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Here is another great article...I didnt want to start another thread.

Williamses Smash Their Way to Final
By SELENA ROBERTS

The New York Times

here was only one way for Venus Williams to soothe the disbelief that washed over her angular face when her sister Serena took Wimbledon away from her, only one way to cope with a crowd that was oddly ambivalent during her most desperate moment yesterday.

She had to fight through this. If Venus wanted to secure a place in tonight's United States Open final, if she wanted to end the improbable drama of her semifinal as she served for the match, she had to erase three break points in the 10th game of the third set against Amélie Mauresmo.

So, she detached herself from every emotion — nerves, fear, disappointment — and mechanically unloaded serves that crashed like Pacific waves in front of a defenseless Mauresmo. As an encore to a 114-mile-an-hour ace to bring the game to deuce, Venus uncoiled another serve at 122 m.p.h. that left Mauresmo using her racket as a shield.

Finally, Venus had match point. Once Mauresmo pulled a cross-court return wide, Venus closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she opened them, she was on her way to the United States Open final after winning, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. About two hours later, Serena Williams fulfilled her family duty by crawling out of her own patch of trouble against Lindsay Davenport to win, 6-3, 7-5, advancing to meet her older sister in a major final for the fourth time in five Grand Slam events.

"Most amazing thing in sports almost," Davenport said. "They don't have teammates to help them along."

They barely have crowd support. There was a decent rationalization for the fans to be in Davenport's corner more than Serena's yesterday. After all, Davenport was the underdog American, on the mend from knee surgery, with an Open title in her past.

But Mauresmo? She was the 10th-seeded Frenchwoman many of those sitting inside the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium hardly knew, yet many fans cheered for her when the match was at risk of slipping away from Venus. Some even shouted to distract Venus when she tossed the ball on her serve. Two games earlier, several fans booed when an iffy call went against Mauresmo.

"You know what's wrong," said Oracene Williams, the mother of Serena and Venus. "You can surmise that for yourself."

The subtleties of racism are there whenever the Williams sisters play. They never discuss it, never complain about it, but they understand it can be an implied element every time the issue of whether an all-Williams final is good for tennis.

"To be honest, I don't see why the question could be relevant, why it would be bad for tennis," Venus said. "It's never been asked before."

Were Chrissie and Martina bad for tennis? Were Steffi and Monica bad for tennis? Although Venus and Serena are in the infancy of their rivalry, the issue dogs them wherever they go.

"It's just hard these days," Venus said. "When you win, there's a problem. When you lose, there's a problem. So what do you want me to do?"

Very much on her own, Venus decided to win yesterday. She found a way to fend off the clever slices and wicked topspins, the whip-snapping baseline shots and chipped net approaches that Mauresmo used in an effort to cross her up, and in an effort to break up the Williams sisters' path to the major finals.

"As I say, they're not going to be in the finals forever," Mauresmo said.

Mauresmo is also not a big supporter of the Williams sisters. She has called their matchups boring for fans and suggested some of their matches had been fixed. In an interview with the French reporters yesterday, Mauresmo was asked if she admired the way Venus fought back from love-40 to win the match.

"For sure, she got back from 0-40, but, no, I don't admire her," Mauresmo said. "That means what it means."

Whatever tension existed yesterday surrounding Venus and Serena, it is over for now. Tonight the only players to cheer come from one family. Around 8:30 p.m. the sisters will walk on the court for their second prime-time showdown at the Open.

One year ago, Serena was not equipped to deal with the jazzed-up atmosphere inside Arthur Ashe Stadium or Venus's unflappable demeanor.

So much has changed since then, just in the last six months. When Serena defeated Venus at the French Open, nothing could be more thrilling for the family. At last, the little sister came through. Excited for Serena, Venus jumped around the court during the trophy ceremony, snapping pictures of the little sister she adored.

Wimbledon was very different. That was Venus's court, her grassy turf, but Serena sneaked into her backyard and came away with match point. As the two met at the net, Venus revealed the same look of shock as she did when Serena became the first of the sisters to win a major at the 1999 Open.

"At Wimbledon, I think Venus had it in her head that it really was her event," said Mary Carillo, a former player and now an analyst for CBS. "She could beat her kid sister there. She had every right to think she was the best grass-court player in the world. And Serena changed her mind about all of that in emphatic fashion."

Serena has hugged two majors this year, bringing her total to three. Venus has yet to win a major this year, leaving her with four.

"I'd like to be the one crossing the finish line for a change," Venus said in an interview before the Open. "I don't like being No. 2."

Venus is not the extrovert that Serena is. She is not one to expose every emotion. Maybe it is in the way she lifts her head proudly or the way she strides on the court with pride, but Venus never revealed a hint of any fear she had about losing yesterday, not even when she was down three break points, so close to giving Mauresmo some room to pull off an upset.

"I suppose I just didn't want to let the game go," Venus said. "Things hadn't gone as well as I thought they would go the whole match, and I surely didn't want to have to get to the 5-all."

Venus ended the tension by taking match point. Under tepid applause, she approached the net to shake the hand of her opponent, then waved to all fans, even those who were not with her yesterday. "I don't know," Venus said. "At least I wanted myself to win out there."

VENUS. ANA, TAY TAY. NICOLE. LAURA. KONJUH. MADISON

SERENA. MUGU. VIKA. PETKO. CARO. TIMEA. SVETA. HEATHER. KAIA. TAMIRA. FLAVIA. GEORGI. COCO. LUCIE, SLOANE. PENG. SORANA. ALICIA. JAEDA. CICI. ANETT. DANKA. DONNA. FRANCOISE.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. SHENAY. DINARA. GISELA. SPREM.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:11 AM
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:11 AM
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Thanks BK4ever Damn Momo, did you really have go there
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:12 AM
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Thanks for the articles. Here's another good one:
http://espn.go.com/page2/s/wiley/020906.html
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:18 AM
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Quote:
"You know what's wrong," said Oracene Williams, the mother of Serena and Venus. "You can surmise that for yourself."
I am so glad that Richard, Oracene and some reporters are speaking out and bringing this issue to light. Us fans have been seeing it so long and are questioning the motives behind these crowds.



Quote:
"It's just hard these days," Venus said. "When you win, there's a problem. When you lose, there's a problem. So what do you want me to do?"
This is the best quote in tennis history. Classic Venus

"Everybody wants to beat a Williams sister...wouldn't you?" - Serena Williams
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:18 AM
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Great articles. I think we all know that if jennifer or lindsay had a sister dominating the game with them at one and two that they would not get the flack and lack of support venus and serena get.

I couldn't believe that the crowd would support a foreigner over the defending american champion at the us open.

thats like someone from los angeles rooting for the ny knicks against the Los Angeles lakers. makes no sense at all.

The WTA Women of Wonder Featuring....The Goddess: Venus Williams The Glamazon: Serena Williams The Lioness: Jennifer Capriati The High Priestess: Monica Seles The Saint: Kim Clijsters The Phoenix: Chanda Rubin The Bon Vivant: Amelie Mauresmo The Titan: Lindsay Davenport The Courtesan: Anna Kournikova The Exile: Martina Hingis The Sorceress: Anatasia Myskina The Minx: Maria Sharapova
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:22 AM
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Thanks BK!

Jesus christ SHUT UP ORACENE! The fans were not against Venus cuz she is black. Venus and Serena have become these unstoppable monsters as of late, and seem to be immune to losing. It's pretty hard to root for that. No matter where you go, fans will cheer for the underdog or sentimental favorite 95% of the time. It has nothing to do with being black, white, green, whatever. It's hard to cheer for someone that steamrolls through some poor girl 6-1 6-1. I was there when Serena played Dinara and I was cheering for Dinara the whole way. It's not racial at all. I have a tremendous amount of respect for both sisters, but Dinara was getting mauled and you want to see her make a match of it. It would be nice to have a little variety in major finals. I'm sure most would agree w/me
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:26 AM
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Please someone remind me what Venus and Serena has done to Amelie other than beat her ass everytime she walks on the court? She's starting to come off like a jealous Bitch ( and I don't use that word often or think it that often) or a racist one and definitely a sore loser? I don't know which but she has so much venum when it comes to Venus and Serena.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:29 AM
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It would be funny if she were a reacist since she is an out lesbian and her openess about it has not been appreciated by some women on the tour (Hingis and Davenport are examples).
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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:29 AM
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Thanks Robyn Sounds like Ralph Wiley has a lot of respect for Venus, but I hope he's wrong about her not having a "killer instinct" where Serena is concerned ... strictly speaking about tennis here.
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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:29 AM
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Bradshaw---neither Amelie or Lindsay was getting steamrolled? There is a big difference between rooting for someone and actively rooting against someone. To me if you are calling out between first and second serves you are actively rooting against someone and you don't do that unless you have negative feelings against a player. The source of a lot of those negative feelings are at the root of the debate.

Its funny the crowd has the right to cheer against her daughters but Oracene doesn't have the right to state her opinion about the crowd?
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:30 AM
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"For sure, she got back from 0-40, but, no, I don't admire her," Mauresmo said. "That means what it means."

Oh, and Venus was supposed to say something nice about her after her win?!?!


WHATEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!


She sure gets pissy when she gets beat! She should be mad at herself...after all...Venus did have a blistered hand, 10 DF's and countless UFE's and she couldn't win?
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:37 AM
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Jesus christ SHUT UP ORACENE! The fans were not against Venus cuz she is black. Venus and Serena have become these unstoppable monsters as of late, and seem to be immune to losing. It's pretty hard to root for that. No matter where you go, fans will cheer for the underdog or sentimental favorite 95% of the time. It has nothing to do with being black, white, green, whatever. It's hard to cheer for someone that steamrolls through some poor girl 6-1 6-1. I was there when Serena played Dinara and I was cheering for Dinara the whole way. It's not racial at all. I have a tremendous amount of respect for both sisters, but Dinara was getting mauled and you want to see her make a match of it. It would be nice to have a little variety in major finals. I'm sure most would agree w/me

Ordinarily I would agree but there are too many discrepancies.

1) Jen is a three time grandslam winner who destroyed all her opponets up until the quarters. The crowd was on her side all the way. THe crowd was on her side even when she was destroying lesser ranked players.

Would the Belgian fans cheer for kim or justines opponent?

would the aussies cheer against pat rafter?

would the brazillians ever cheer for anyone playing Guga?

Please.

Also whats up with the unstoppable monster crack? You act like these two girls didn't work their asses off to be so good and even then didn't serena just get beat a few weeks ago?????

Did that not happen? Does she not have four losses this year? Venus six? Do those losses somehow not count because it wasn't done by jennifer or lindsay?


The WTA Women of Wonder Featuring....The Goddess: Venus Williams The Glamazon: Serena Williams The Lioness: Jennifer Capriati The High Priestess: Monica Seles The Saint: Kim Clijsters The Phoenix: Chanda Rubin The Bon Vivant: Amelie Mauresmo The Titan: Lindsay Davenport The Courtesan: Anna Kournikova The Exile: Martina Hingis The Sorceress: Anatasia Myskina The Minx: Maria Sharapova
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2002, 04:38 AM
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I actually didnt see the entire Venus match and wasnt aware that people were calling out just as Venus was about to serve. That's unacceptable. I still think there has to be a better reason for the crowds not being behind Venus and Serena other than that they are black. Maybe some fans still have the perception that the sisters havent matured as women since they first came on the scene 4 or 5 years. I just think that if there were 2 white sisters that came and dominated the same way V&S have, they would still get the same "crowd hazing." It really does bother me though that the race card is getting pulled up so much. Maybe I sound ignorant and if I do I'm sorry, but thats just my opinion
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