The Thrill is Gone - Because of the Sisters?
The thrill may be gone to Charles - but it is not gone for many others. Someone needs to step up and give him a thrill if the Sisters don't do for him. Otherwise - he needs not watch the finals they may appear in together. It is that simple - IMO.
The thrill is gone
Published March 16, 2003
There are those who probably never will be bored watching a Williams sisters Grand Slam final, even if Serena and Venus stretch their streak of showdowns to five at the French Open, to six at Wimbledon and to seven at the U.S. Open.
Those are fans with the sophistication to bypass the window dressing that goes with every Williams-vs.-Williams final and focus on the nuances in each match.
But there is a larger segment of the tennis-watching public that is going to start tuning out if Venus doesn't win at Paris or if Kim Clijsters or Jennifer Capriati or someone else doesn't step up soon and make this into more than a two-woman tour.
Tennis is a lot like other second-level sports in this country. There is a hard-core fan base that is able to get deep inside the game, and there is a more fluid, fickle constituency that requires personality and other external factors to hold their interest.
The problem for television is that we've now had the Williams sisters in four consecutive Slam finals, and the novelty is wearing thin for the less-than-devout.
What began in 1999, when they played in the Key Biscayne final, as a fascinating and controversial matchup, has lost a lot of luster for casual fans. To those who know the game, there are significant differences in how they play, and the contrast enhances their matches.
To the rest, the Williamses seem to be mirror images -- just a couple of slammers.
The matchup no longer fascinates those who once thought father Richard Williams controlled the outcomes or that the sisters were too reluctant to play their best tennis against each other.
Serena changed all that at Key Biscayne in 2002. Where Venus once professed to hate being on court against her sister, which only fueled the fix theorists, Serena doesn't care who's on the other side of the net. She is relentless in pursuit of victory.
Venus, on the other hand, plays hard in these finals, but you get no passion from her before the match. There is no, "I can't wait to get even with little sister," which would give us the fire every rivalry needs.
Also, Serena vs. Venus would be more captivating to everyone if Venus would win here and there. But she has lost their past five meetings and has taken only one set, at the Australian Open. You can't have a real rivalry when one player wins all the time.
The last time we had this sort of domination by two women was in the 1980s with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. They played 14 Grand Slam finals against each other, including three in a row and five out of six during a stretch in 1984-85.
Navratilova beat Evert three times in a row at the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in 1984 before Evert won the 1985 French. Then Navratilova beat her at Wimbledon a few weeks later.
Yet no one was ever bored by Evert vs. Navratilova because their personalities were different, their styles of play were different and because you knew that come the French Open, Evert would get her revenge.
It felt like a real rivalry. It looked like a real rivalry. What you get with Serena vs. Venus in a Grand Slam final now are by far the two best female players in the world. If you can enjoy for the quality of play, fine. But for the casual fans, the novelty has worn off and the thrill is gone.