WIMBLEDON 2010: Us against the world!
Williams sisters planning to continue family monopoly
By Malcolm Folley
Serena and Venus Williams, the greatest double act in the history of tennis, have a self-confidence that some find grating.
So when Serena, the defending Wimbledon champion, suggests that it is the sisters against the rest of the tennis world, she knows the critics will interpret her statement as just another sign of their arrogance.
The reality is, though, that the Williams sisters are the favourites again to contest the women’s final for a fifth time in nine years — and they are the reigning doubles champions at all four Grand Slam tournaments.
‘Sure, it’s us against the WTA Tour,’ said Serena starkly last week.
In the past decade only Maria Sharapova and Amelie Mauresmo have managed to prevent one of the Williams sisters from parading around the Centre Court with the winner’s Venus Rosewater Dish.
‘The other day, I had to think did I win last year, or did Venus?’ said Serena.‘Practising with Venus every day, it does get confusing.’
Rather than arrogance, the sisters prefer to liken their self-assurance to a shield. ‘Venus and I are really close,’ said Serena.
People always want to take us out and play their super-best game against us. We are taking on these players, who, basically, find a different level when they play us. I always take it as a compliment. It’s us against them.’
From their early childhood days in Compton, a ghetto of Los Angeles, the Williams sisters have always lived — and played — outside the establishment.
Yet the prospect of playing in front of The Queen when she takes her seat in the Royal Box on Thursday for the first time since she watched Virginia Wade crowned Wimbledon champion in her Silver Jubilee Year, 1977, captivates Serena.
‘I hope I am playing on Centre Court that day as that would be super-cool,’ she said.
‘Maybe I’ll even use my Members’ Badge to get into the Members’ area. I never go there.’
As someone who has been entitled to the privileges of membership of the All England Club for eight years, it is revealing that until now Serena has never felt a need to visit areas denied to the vast majority of players.
The Williams sisters are a club of two — and untroubled if that causes offence.
They remain an intimidating presence and cast a shadow over the game from which rivals struggle to emerge.
Maybe the fact we are a little talented has played a major role in why we are still at the top of the game,’ said Serena.
‘We’ve taken our careers into our own hands.’
By which she means that they play when, and where, it suits them — to the unspoken irritation of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Serena has played just five tournaments this year, while Venus has managed only two more.
Serena explained: ‘It’s hard when you have been doing something since you were two years old, it’s a long time to be mastering your career.
'We won’t play if we are injured, no matter what the consequences are.
‘As an athlete, you and live and die for these moments at tournaments like Wimbledon, or the US Open.’
Venus is the more even tempered of the two.
‘Venus is much more calm than I am, much more sensible,’ explained Serena.
‘Venus thinks things through. I do, too; but not as thoroughly. She is a real good leader and a role model for me.’
Take that: Serena Williams is ready for Wimbledon
On the charge: Venus Williams wants more Wimbledon glory
Sister act: Serena (left) and Venus Williams are ready to take on the world