Are Williams fans moving en masse onto Serena's bandwagon?
No. At least, not yet. The Serena's bandwagon has to be created first. So far, it has been one Williamses' bandwagon with Venus as the dominating figure. No need to dwell on the reasons why Venus was the lead. The numbers in terms of slams, trophies, earned moneys, business deals, were (some still are) in Venus's favor. And there is the power of being there first.
Now, we have two alternatives: we can split the family bandwagon and have one for Venus and one for Serena, or we can keep the same single bandwagon and have Serena as the leading figure. Many of us deep down have been toiling with the latter alternative. We are tennis lovers and could see Serena's potentials way back in 1999 when she got her first US Open. Williams Pop saw it way before that, but this is old story.
Serena up until this year was plagued with injuries, stomach sickness during matches and major mental blocks against top players and her sister. Then three things happened. First, a full-time trainer was hired to watch over training, nutrition, establish physical limits for these pushy Williams, and attend to any tears as early as possible before they progress into major ailments. Second, a good Summer and yearend last year (2001), to shed the mental blocks. Third, this is the big punch: the commitment at the beginning of this year to be number 1 by yearend, and the maturity to do it. The convergence of these three elements has meant success beyond belief. Williams fans were quick to notice that the "big sis little sis" dichotomy was being challenged. The comfort of Venus first, Serena second, was under attack. After RG, Wimbledon, many of us realized Venus had become the underdog. We were sadden and hoped for another Venus resurgence as we've seen many in the past.
Now, I'm going out on a limb to say that Serena has passed Venus for good. It's not unlike two rising curves where one (Serena's) starting later with a higher slope meets the other one (Venus's) and takes the lead while both are still rising. It has to do with basic biomechanics, basic instincts and basic deeply burried mental algorithms. When presure is on and the nerves are acting up, these basic elements come to the fore and take over. If you lead in them, you win the match, otherwise you lose. Training can and do help you improve on, or correct, these elements. But at time of major strains, the training may vanish. Venus has had problems with her first and second serves for years. If you look back at her match with Spirlea (1997) shown recently on tv, you can see she had the same biomechanics then as now. Diligent training has allowed her to make some improvements. When she's fully collected after deep breaths, she can bring on that training and deliver outstanding first serves; the last game against Momo at the semis is an example. Otherwise, she fails; refer to the match with Chanda and the final yesterday. The same argument can be made about her forehand which can fail when she's tired or over-stressed.
Serena, on the other hand, has better biomechanics on both the serve and the forehand. When the heat is on, these two parts of her game hold quite firmly. Also, psychologists will tell you that if you express your feelings outwards, you're more likely to clear up your mind than if you hold back and maintain the same game face all the way through. As such, you could say psychology favors Serena. Given that the rest of their games is pretty much even, ie, backhand, net performance, volley, defense, and by now mental strength, you can infer that Serena, overall, has the edge.
Now, are Williams fans going to create a Serena's bandwagon and move onto it en masse? I don't know. Certainly, I won't be the one to promote it. My current stand is for one Williamses' bandwagon with Serena at the lead and Venus right in there with the style, the charm, the elegance and posture that I deeply cherish. Venus is still way up there and her tank is far from empty.
** TP for Topaz or TennisPower **
"Playing aggressive tennis ... that's always the way to go, if you ask me." - Venus Williams, May/2002
"Some shots I will hit hard but not every ball. I'm not just using my power." - Serena Williams, Oct/2002