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kay
Jul 5th, 2002, 01:48 PM
Venus and Serena Leave Tour Without a Clue

By HARVEY ARATON
The New York Times
Posted by WTAFANS TEAM

WIMBLEDON, England? Oracene Williams exited Center Court late in the afternoon from her daughter Serena's semifinal, wearing a Reebok sweatshirt (her other daughter Venus's sponsor), limping on a bum ankle, sounding sleepy and in need of a place to lie down.

Sit through successive matches of complete and numbing domination and see if you feel like going for a run.


Venus had hammered Justin Henin (ho), 6-3, 6-2, and Serena had humbled Am?lie Mauresmo (hum), 6-2, 6-1, another all-Williams and all-American Wimbledon final had been manufactured on the Fourth of July and mother Oracene recognized the immediate benefits.

"I get to stay in bed the next two days and not go to practice," she said.

While Oracene catches up on her Z's, the sisters will, as usual, practice together before they meet Saturday for the ninth time. While neither Williams sister seems to have a coach, the rest of the women's Tour does not have a clue. Martina Hingis may be finished. Lindsay Davenport is, for now, off the radar. Jennifer Capriati has gone from reborn to midlife (tennis) crisis. The semifinal competition offered today was consumed in a combined 2 hours 12 minutes.

Venus, who had been No. 1, has fallen behind her sister based on a complicated ranking system almost pointless to discuss given the Williams's attitude that the top two positions are like shoes they both fit into and will take turns wearing.

"Oh, that's right," Oracene Williams said when reminded of Serena's rise. "I guess she's happy."

It seems longer than two years ago that Venus played and won her first Wimbledon final while her father, Richard, displayed a sign that read: "It's Venus's party and no one's invited." Saturday ? the third all-Williams final in four Grand Slams ? is Venus's and Serena's party and Richard, estranged from his wife, is apparently not invited.

For those who do not wish to attend or even watch ? Mauresmo, for one, said she would not after calling another round of Williams versus Williams "a little bit sad for women's tennis" ? that is their prerogative. But I am sorry; she is wrong. The argument that the previous Williams showdowns have not produced classic tennis and are thus bad for the sport is the classic rush to judgment.
?

If Martina Navratilova can call Anna Kournikova an asset to women's tennis for the attention she brings it based on admiration of her body, I think we can hold off on the negativism and look at the Williamses as works of art in much the way golf hails its reigning Rembrandt. Tiger Woods blows everyone away and is considered must-see TV.



The Williamses are Tigers-in-tandem terrorizing their tour. Nothing they produce on Saturday will be worse than the feeble resistance offered today by Mauresmo and Henin, and it is also too soon to conclude that the sisters would not rise above the emotional barriers that have blemished their matches. They have overcome odds far greater than the calculations that their matches are destined for dullsville by merely making it to the Tour, much less together to the finals of three Grand Slams.

Venus, at 22, refined her incredibly athletic game, learned to build points, during her run to four Grand Slam titles. A year ago here, Serena was ridiculed as an excuse-maker and head case when Capriati beat her in the quarters. Now, at 20, she is the reigning French Open champ, No. 1, in greater control of her power strokes that were capable of making a formless mess of any match, not only those with her sister.

Obviously, their parents did something right, even if Richard Williams became something of a blowhard once his daughters burst from his architectural cocoon. His absence in itself from their matches in recent months might be taken as a sign of their growth.

From watching them play, they do not need either parent. They never look into the family box between points like so many others, younger and older, whose on-court behavior is like that of a child on some dysfunctional play date. "They've been raised to be totally independent, to think for themselves," Oracene Williams said.

She did not want to say too much during her labored walk from Center Court. I am told this is her new low-key style, excluding the orange Afro wig you could spot passing by plane overhead. She is not never-a-dull-moment Richard. She seemed almost bored by her daughters' latest coup, another Grand Slam family affair.

True, they have been there, done that. It is also likely that they are only getting started with Williams versus Williams and they will figure out how to do it better than before.

kay
Jul 5th, 2002, 01:50 PM
I think the writer addressed some of the major criticisms about V and S. Very objective.

CHOCO
Jul 5th, 2002, 02:30 PM
Kay - thanx for the post.

The writer is dead on with this quote:

The Williamses are Tigers-in-tandem terrorizing their tour. Nothing they produce on Saturday will be worse than the feeble resistance offered today by Mauresmo and Henin, and it is also too soon to conclude that the sisters would not rise above the emotional barriers that have blemished their matches.

On to the championship! :D

supremeross
Jul 5th, 2002, 02:44 PM
Rock on Venus and Serena.