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Gumbycat
Jul 7th, 2002, 06:42 PM
http://www.newsday.com/sports/ny-how0707.column
Stellar Serena Eclipses Venus
Johnette Howard

Wimbledon -- VENUS AND Serena Williams finally played the sort of wondrous match against each other that they usually play against everyone else. The harder they hit in yesterday's Wimbledon final, the more shots they ran down and powered back, the more often their serves climbed past 105 mph, then 115 mph, the more you could feel the others in the women's tennis game groaning and ripping at the seams again.

This was new. This was something to behold.

That the Williamses' first gem against each other also unfolded on Centre Court Wimbledon, the most history-soaked tennis venue in the world, made the sisters' performance even more memorable.

Gone were the scads of unforced errors that used to litter their matchups. By the breathtaking end -- after Serena had flung her body into her two-fisted ground strokes again and again with stunning fury, after Venus had sprinted and stretched her entire 6-1 frame to stroke so many sure-looking winners back, after Serena laughed and said, "I was getting a little upset? -- the hard-to-shake feeling was that something revolutionary happened here.

It's spellbinding enough to see one sister play at the height of her ability. But the sight of both Williams sisters playing off each other, parrying, demanding each other's best just to stay in the match, is the difference between hearing one kettle drum playing and listening to an entire orchestra playing the crescendo of "The 1812 Overture.?

No one returns the Williamses' serves or heavy ground strokes as well as they handle each other's, thanks to a lifetime practicing against each other.

Until yesterday, no two women had ever been on the same court trading shots with the power and line-hugging accuracy the Williamses threw at each other before Serena stole off to a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win.

Maybe now, all the ridiculous conspiracy theories about how the Williams sisters' matches are rigged will die, too. This match had real drama and genuine conflict, grunting effort and ear-splitting shrieks of anguish. With every match Serena and Venus have played against each other -- and they've played nine now, including three of the last four major finals -- their inhibitions have waned.

Instead, their ruthless competitiveness, especially Serena's, is bubbling up.

"It's hard to beat Venus,? Serena said with a roll of her eyes. "I think, really, if I missed a shot in that match, things really could have swung either way and she would have been sitting here as champion. I just think we're so close right now.?

For that reason alone, it's time to stop all that whining that the All-Williams rivalry "isn't good? for women's tennis. Maybe their dominance isn't good for those pros who aren't as hard-minded or driven, or who are content to show up with a lame 70-mph second serve, thinking they probably can make a nice living, win a few titles along the way.

Do you know what? Good. Good riddance to them. Women's tennis can only get better.

Bud Collins, the wonderful tennis sage and NBC commentator, had one of the best lines ever about how mercilessly the Williamses beat people: He once said it's like watching someone knock the sawdust out of Raggedy Ann.

But bad for tennis? No way. Yesterday, the Williamses raised the bar higher than it has ever been.

If their bruising singles play wasn't enough, they further dominated by moving into the final of the women's doubles with a 6-7 (3-7), 6-0, 6-3 win over Anna Kournikova and Chanda Rubin.

So let the others on the women's tour who are serious about competing go back to the woodshed and add 10 mph to their serves or sharpen their volleys or hit the weight room the way Chris Evert did when Martina Navratilova started her great run. Let them go and get mentally tougher, the way Serena has. Isn't that what people in sports have always done? Isn't that the only choice?

The Williamses are waiting for nobody.

Gumbycat
Jul 7th, 2002, 07:02 PM
:cool:

Jovon
Jul 7th, 2002, 07:26 PM
Good article, thanks Gumbycat.

Gumbycat
Jul 7th, 2002, 08:13 PM
No problem

Robin L
Jul 7th, 2002, 08:48 PM
Domination in any sport whatsoever is never good.
In de F1 there is now Ferrari who dominates the sport. Me as a Ferrari and Schumie fan thinks it is enough and I feel ashamed that he always wins.
For godsake let them stop, give them some battle on or off. It is going too easy. At least Sampras has had some battle in his triumph years and I donít see that in the WTA :sad:

Weevee
Jul 7th, 2002, 09:03 PM
WIMBLEDON, England SERENA WILLIAMS on Serena Williams: "I smile a lot. I win a lot. I'm really sexy."

She's also the new Wimbledon ladies champion, snatching the title away yesterday from older sister Venus in straight sets.

And feeling not a whit of regret in doing so.

Less emotionally guarded than Venus, more candid about her desire to win this title and palpably more willing to play the game beyond the game ó the thrust-and-parry with reporters, the romp of celebrity ó Serena squealed and powered her way to a 7-6 (6-4), 6-3 triumph: a genuine victor, beholden to no one, not father, not mother and certainly not sister.

Serena took no pity on her sibling, picking apart her faltering serve, returning shots that were just as deep and on the line, getting 75 per cent of her first serves in during the second set, out-acing Venus 4-1 and generally displaying a ferocity of will. Venus again fell victim to unforced errors.

She was playing to win and sister-love be damned. Reading crib-notes under her towel between sets (her chair deliberately turned away from Venus), occasionally losing control over her awesome shots (just missing the occupants of the Royal Box), visibly angry with herself when held to love and unleashing a primal scream on a failed cross-court return during the first set tiebreaker.

At 4-3 in the first, when Venus broke back to force that tiebreak, Serena gave herself a mental scolding: "I wanted to win so bad. I kept thinking to myself, `Okay, Serena, just stay calm. She already has two Wimbledons. Try to fight.'"

This was a blood-minded Serena, despite the girly rhinestone tiara and the shimmering petals in her hair. While Venus could equal neither her intensity nor her tactics, this was among the most hard-fought of their 10 head-to-heads and by far their most lively Grand Slam confrontation. On that score, Venus, who has just lost her world No.1 ranking to Serena, still leads 4-3.

But Serena is having an over-the-moon season, defeating her sister at Roland Garros last month, then seizing Wimbledon here. They could face each other again at the U.S. Open in September.

When Serena was ushered into her post-match press conference and introduced as the new Wimbledon champion, she brightly responded: "That's me!"

"In the beginning of the year, I said to myself, `I don't care what happens this year. I want to win Wimbledon.' It was an extra bonus for me to win the French. But I wanted Wimbledon. I wanted to become a member (of a club) with so much prestige, so much history. I want to be part of history."

The Williams sisters are making history. And that has put some dainty noses out of joint.

While the rest of the world might wonder endlessly about what truly goes on between these two remarkable young women (Are their matches pre-determined? Do they bring their B Game to confrontations against each other? Is a steady diet of Williams vs. Williams bad for tennis) the siblings stand astride the centre courts of Grand Slams like Amazonian warriors, other-worldly in their dominance of the sport.

Eyeball to eyeball, they've never been at their best, which has generated conspiracy theories with father Richard as villainous mastermind. Venus' tally of unforced errors yesterday will further stir that brew. They've also drawn catty clawing from other women on the tour. But if those women who so resent Team Williams want to do something about it, they'd better get better. What's the alternative? To tank a few and placate the grumblers?

The snippy tennis universe punishes the sisters in other ways. They will never be media "darlings," despite their unfailing politeness. The yardstick for measuring tennis beauty is blonde and blue-eyed.

So, although gorgeous athletic specimens and fashion trendsetters, the brace of Williams will never get the pin-up laurels.

Yesterday's match will likely not be considered competitive enough for the more churlish Williams-bashers. But it augers well for future Grand Slam battles. Though more emotionally contained than her sister, Venus was definitely ticked at losing her title and wants it back. Wants her top ranking back, too. "That's what I'm here for, to be on top. Not linger around at No.2.

"It's not fun losing, no matter who you lose to. It's not something that I'm going to get used to."

What the sisters won't do is diss one another for public amusement. "I won't criticize her," Venus said. "That's the only thing I won't do."

In the immediate aftermath of the match, it was Venus playing helpful big sister to champion Serena, instructing her to curtsy to Princess Alexandra. "No one told me the first year that you have to curtsy. So I was just running around like a fool."

Then, after a short rest, the Williams sisters were back on the court, side-by-side, winning their doubles semi against Anna Kournikova and Chandra Rubin. That gives Venus a shot at going home with another Wimbledon trophy.

"It's all I have left now," she said with a sigh, pulling a moue.

Williams humour.

Gumbycat
Jul 7th, 2002, 09:18 PM
The snippy tennis universe punishes the sisters in other ways. They will never be media "darlings," despite their unfailing politeness. The yardstick for measuring tennis beauty is blonde and blue-eyed.

Venus and Serena are BEAUTIFUL! But it is true that they will never be media "darlings." Just watch Sports Illustrated diss them again by not giving them the Cover!