View Full Version : Williams Sisters on Top of the World

Jun 7th, 2002, 10:10 PM

June 07, 2002

French Open

Williams sisters on top of the world
From Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent in Paris

AND so it has come to pass, just as their Dad always vowed it would. The proclamation of Richard Williams that his bubblegum kids with beads in their hair and big dreams in their hearts, would be the best two players in the world happened for real on the eleventh day of the 2002 French Open. Log the date.
Serena Williams’s 3-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory over Jennifer Capriati in the semi-finals yesterday secured her a career-high No 2 ranking, nestled in behind her big sister, who would have moved to No 1 on Monday regardless of how she fared in her semi-final against Clarisa Fernandez of Argentina. As it was, despite an air of increasing anxiety, Venus prevailed 6-1, 6-4 in 56 minutes and tomorrow heralds another Sister Act, a series that Venus leads 5-2, but the first in a Roland Garros final.

For once, however, the fact that the sisters are playing against each other in a grand-slam final is almost coincidental. That they are atop the women’s game — riding high, living the moment, loving the thought of where they are and, in private, cocking a snook at those who felt their father had lost his marbles when he made his assertion — is something sensational to behold.

“I must confess I thought he was nuts,” Chris Evert, who won this title seven times between 1974 and 1986 when the women did not grunt, groan, shout and shriek and actually played with wooden rackets, said. “How could anybody say when girls are about 8 or 10 that they would be the best in the world? But now his dream is reality, they are great athletes with remarkable ability. “I think that Serena is quicker than Venus but they both have so much court savvy and they are gathering experience all the time. Venus has four slams, Serena has one and there is no doubt they possess the potential to win many more.”

If there was one regret in the Williams household, it is that Richard was not here in person to witness how a prophecy of unashamed bravado came true. He was home in the United States probably working on the next of the million-dollar deals he insists he involves himself with: buying the rights to US soccer, helping solve the Kashmir conflict, negotiating to become the next Oprah Winfrey, something along those lines. But we should not jest too much.

For the rest of women’s tennis, the extent of the domination of the Williams sisters is not a matter for levity. This is as serious as the look on the face of Capriati as she slouched towards the umpire’s chair in full view of Serena’s whooping dance of celebration at the end of two hours and 15 minutes of pile-driven pugnacity. How do the rest respond? The French did not know whether to rejoice or cry. Court Philippe Chatrier was finally full when Capriati and Serena came on for the third match of the day. Sebastien Grosjean played out to a half-empty stadium, but that had more to do with the France-Uruguay match in the World Cup than the fact the last French presence in the singles was loping around the place with a face as sour as undiluted lemon juice.

They warmed to the women, especially Capriati. It would be a fallacy to suggest that the place throbbed with applause when Serena was doing her stuff — it was restrained, affected. When Capriati’s forehand was running wild, so were Parisian emotions and they were in rhapsodic mood when the No 1 seed and reigning champion took the first set in 37 minutes.

It was time for Serena to let everyone know why she was here. She stepped up the pace, running into a 5-2 lead in the second, only for her to strike an impasse. She smacked a couple of backhands way out of court and lost her serve to love, then launched at audacious drive volleys and it was 5-5. Capriati held and was four points from the match. That was as close as Serena would allow her to come to a second consecutive final here.

The tie-break was simply brutal, encapsulated when Serena spun around after a particularly venomous back-court rally and flexed her muscles as if to say: “I am the strongest, you will not beat me.” There were break points aplenty to herald the final set, yet it was Capriati who wilted first, losing her serve in the sixth game and, by way of a denouement, the eighth.

“I’m pretty happy right now but I’m still working to take a step ahead,” Serena said. “My Dad knows our ability better than anyone, he has worked with us since we were three or four. He’s a great guy.” And some prophet.

Martina Hingis yesterday gave the All England Club official notification that she will miss this year’s championships because of her longstanding foot injury.

Jun 7th, 2002, 10:17 PM
This writer seems to have a very stiff upper lip.

Final accolade for the Williamses

Stephen Bierley in Paris on the arrival of a sisterly world monopoly

Friday June 7, 2002
The Guardian

Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena, predicted four years ago that his daughters would eventually be No1 and No2 in the tennis world, a prophecy greeted with some scepticism at the time, given his propensity for exaggeration. But yesterday at Roland Garros his word - his dream if you will - became reality.

Venus will officially reclaim her place as No1 from Jennifer Capriati on Monday and Serena will become No2 for the first time, courtesy of yesterday's titanic 3-6, 7-6, 6-2 semi-final victory over Capriati, the now dethroned French Open champion.

In reality they are No1 and No2 now. Williams, Williams everywhere, including tomorrow when they meet in the final, Venus having defeated Argentina's Clarisa Fernandez, the surprise package, 6-1, 6-4 in just under an hour.

It is not a meeting which everyone will anticipate with delight. There have been uncomfortable moments in previous meetings, including allegations, never challenged in court, that the Wimbledon semi-final in 2000 was fixed. On that occasion Venus won and went on to take the title for the first time.

In all the two have met on the professional circuit seven times so far, with Venus leading 5-2, including her 6-2, 6-4 victory in the US Open final last year, their only previous meeting in a grand slam final. They had been due to meet in the semi-final of the Indian Wells tournament last year but Venus pulled out at the last minute, much to the anger of the Californian crowd, who then booed and jeered Serena in her winning final against Belgium's Kim Clijsters.

Capriati was asked yesterday if she felt it was inevitable that the sisters would become No1 and No2 and was less than enthusiastic. "They have been pretty good with planning things," she replied.

Whether or not they have planned tournaments, there is little doubt they deserve to be where they are. Martina Hingis, who officially withdrew from Wimbledon yesterday, did her best to hold the sisters at bay but for the past 18 months or so only Capriati has truly stood firm against their power game. She won the Australian and French Open titles last year, and repeated her win in Melbourne in January, but the defending of the French Open proved too much.

To date Venus has been the dominant sister, winning four grand slam titles (Wimbledon and the US Open in 2000 and 2001) to Serena's one (the 1999 US Open). She remains the more complete player of the two, as she demonstrated yes terday and, more pertinently, in her quarter-final here against Monica Seles. But there are many who are already wondering if tomorrow will be Serena's day.

In truth the sisters are in an near-impossible situation. Their previous grand slam final under the floodlights at Flushing Meadows was pure Hollywood as an occasion but proved a tame, nervous affair dominated by Venus. Should the crowd on the Court Philippe Chatrier sniff anything untoward tomorrow they will be brutal in their response. Three years ago they booed and whistled Hingis with unremitting venom after she had queried a call against Germany's Steffi Graf, and they will be quick to turn on either of the Williams sisters if they suspect collusion.

What everybody must hope for is a close and competitive match, such as yesterday's semi-final between Serena and Capriati, which contained rallies of quite stunning power and athleticism. Capriati, six years older than the 20-year-old Serena, appeared to have gained the initiative when she broke early, crushing a half-volley that sat up like one of Serena's pet dogs. Thereafter the ebb and flow was constant in the first two sets.

Having lost the first set, Serena pummelled her way to a 5-2 lead in the second, only for Capriati to level and then draw ahead at 6-5. There were no obvious signs that the effort had drained her but suddenly Williams drew away as if Capriati had ceased to exist, winning the tie-break 7-2. The rest was inevitable, as has been the rise of the Williams, albeit shot through with controversy.

Jun 7th, 2002, 10:26 PM
This writer sounds as if he/she needed a laxative or something. Don't get me started.

Sisters top rankings

OF all the mutterings to spew forth from Richard Williams' mouth over the past decade, the most provocative was the prescient boast his daughters Venus and Serena would not only win multiple grand slam singles titles, but also dominate the international rankings.

Venus, 21, and Serena, 20, have duly both snared major titles and, by reaching the final of the French Open today – a historic achievement in itself – the sisters have ensured the second portion of their father's extraordinary prediction would also materialise.
On Monday, when the new rankings are issued, Jennifer Capriati will drop to No. 3. Venus will move to No. 1 and Serena will sit at a career-high No. 2.

All that remains is the small matter of which sister will be clasping the Suzanne Lenglen Cup.

The sisters clashed in the US Open final in September with Venus emerging with a disappointingly lopsided 6-2 6-4 success.

The only other time siblings have disputed a grand slam singles final was at Wimbledon in 1884 when England's Maud Watson beat Lilian Watson.

"It's been a long way," Venus Williams said, referring to the astonishing odyssey which has carried the pair from the slums of Compton in Los Angeles to the peaks of a sport in which black Afro-American woman remain condemningly rare.

"More than anything, it means we've reached the top of our profession, which is always what we have strived to do, to be the best at what we do because we take pride in what we do.

"Actually, I'd like to stay No. 1, but I'd like to see Serena No. 1 also. I'm not giving it up, but I'm sure she'll get there.

"It's real nice. I did read a couple of times if Serena won (defeating Capriati), we would be one and two. But I don't think we were really thinking about that.

"We were just wanting do so well for the French Open because we hadn't always done our best here, done as well as we thought we could do.

"But this makes it all the much more sweeter to be No. 1 and No. 2, and also to be in the final."

Only two coloured competitors – American Althea Gibson (1956) and Australian Evonne Goolagong (1971) – have won the French singles crown.

Today, the Williams sisters will add yet another chapter to a book of firsts. They are already the first siblings to have each won a major; to both reach a regular WTA final; to share an Olympic tennis gold medal and the first this century to win major doubles titles.

Venus will seek her fifth major to add to the two Wimbledon and two US Open trophies she has harvested over the past two years. Serena will bid for a second slam which would sit next to the 1999 US Open crown.

Often criticised for over-confidence, a lack of respect and, in the minds of some critics, being unfairly Amazonian, the Williams sisters continue to enrich tennis with an improbable journey from the cracked Compton courts.

Jun 7th, 2002, 11:13 PM
Mum tips Serena in family affair
June 8 2002

Junior is mummy's girl, but can the Williams sisters produce the goods, asks Linda Pearce in Paris.

Oracene Williams would like Serena to win this one. The youngest Williams claimed the family's first grand slam, three years ago at the US Open, but the past four have gone to Venus. "This time maybe I would like Serena to get one," Oracene told The Herald, "because she hasn't got one since '99 and that's what she wants so badly."

That figures. Asked to capture the essence of her two youngest daughters in one or two words, Oracene offered the following: "Venus is an intellectual thinker," she said, eventually, "and Serena is a power-grabber."

Serena Williams had just seized the No2 ranking from Jennifer Capriati in a tight three-set battle in the French Open semi-finals; Venus had never thought she was in danger of losing her own bid for a place in the final against unseeded Argentinian Clarisa Fernandez, and duly won 6-1 6-4.

Yet there is a problem of sorts. History has shown that Venus and Serena save their best exhibitions for everybody but each other.

"They really haven't played up to their potential," Oracene agreed. "Hey, they just haven't got it there yet. I don't know [why], confidence maybe. There may always be a little barrier. They are sisters and you can't neglect that fact."



They've met eight times previously, but the walkover credited to Serena after Venus withdrew controversially from their Indian Wells semi-final last year hardly counts. Of the remaining seven, only two have lasted three sets and the past two have been split.

Richard Williams's promise of world tennis domination for his two youngest daughters has finally come true. Still, if Richard is counting on watching a rip-snorting contest on Florida TV, he may have to wait a little longer.

He is not in Paris, and Serena said he had been even more unlikely to make a last-minute trip once his daughters had both qualified for their second joint grand-slam final because he finds the family clashes too difficult to watch.

Their co-coach, Oracene, planned to abandon her official duties before today's match, letting Venus and Serena practise with their hitting partners, or together as usual if they wish. The good thing, she said, is that there has never been competition at home. "Off the court, we don't even discuss tennis," she said.

Both players did on Thursday, but little was given away, and Serena told the media that "I guess you guys take it more seriously than we do". Venus was more concerned with the fact she is close to ending what had started to seem like something of a French Open jinx, and credits patience, attacking the net where possible and trimming her unforced errors.

Serena admitted that at last year's US Open she was preoccupied with simply reaching the final, which she lost to Venus 6-2 6-4. "I think in the beginning maybe for me it was a bit tougher, being the younger sister," she said. "But now I really just want to win a grand slam more than anything."

Serena said recently that she was tired of losing and has dropped just three matches since leaving Flushing Meadows as second best in September.

And so the remarkable Williams family is guaranteed its sixth grand-slam title. Perhaps Serena wants it more.

If nothing else, and she may not even know it, she has her mother's vote.

Jan 7th, 2006, 09:25 PM

Miss these days! :sad:

Come on Venus and Serena! :yeah:

Jan 7th, 2006, 09:34 PM
i wish i was watching back in these days

Jan 7th, 2006, 09:38 PM
those were the days. but they can get back there, they just have to believe

Jan 7th, 2006, 09:50 PM
They have to do a bit more than "just believe."

Bounty Hunter
Jan 7th, 2006, 10:03 PM

Don't they have a whole forum to themselves? Why not post it there...

Jan 7th, 2006, 10:05 PM
They have to do a bit more than "just believe."
and be healthy, thanks ;)

Jan 7th, 2006, 10:28 PM
It is truly great what these two have manged to do in the sport. :worship:

Jan 7th, 2006, 10:52 PM

Don't they have a whole forum to themselves? Why not post it there...


Cause it has been here since 2002. :lol:

Bounty Hunter
Jan 7th, 2006, 10:55 PM

Cause it has been here since 2002. :lol:

:lol: :lol:

Jan 8th, 2006, 04:33 AM
Sigh. Oh well.