Well I cried again after reading the below articles - and they made me think again about how much these Sisters have taken and given in order to be champions of the sport.
I love them and will continue to protect them as if they were truly part of my own family.
Great Newsday article Gumbycat.
"BOO - HOO - HOO - BOO - HOO - HOO" "LUV U 2"
Exclusive Club Now Includes
Both Venus and Serena
After she was beaten by her kid sister in the Wimbledon final, Venus Williams leaned over to Serena to tell her what to expect from the ceremony, to remember to curtsy. "You don't know unless somebody tells you," Venus explained.
Then Serena and Venus walked out from the sideline yesterday to accept their trophies from Princess Alexandra, and you couldn't help but spot what the two sisters must have noticed, too.
There wasn't another black face on the court. Not one. There were 22 umpires and officials, 50 photographers, 32 ballboys, 10 stewards and security guards. There were a handful of royals, too, with chins up and upper lips stiffened.
Among all these journalists, aristocrats and volunteers more than 100, in all not a single one looked anything like the two women who had just put on such an extraordinary exhibition of tennis. To find any African-Americans in the audience, you had to look up to the players' box, to the outrageously funky, orange wig of Oracene and to the supportive group of family members and friends.
The Williams sisters, after all these years, were still strangers in the strange land of English lawn tennis. And if you needed further proof of their remarkable achievement, then here it was, laid out in front of everybody on the worn, green grass. They had navigated a world so completely alien to Compton, Calif., so far away from where they'd started on the cracked, concrete courts, that they stood out here like a cloudless day.
They were still trying to figure it all out, too. Venus told Serena to curtsy to the duchess, not knowing she had been replaced this year by a princess. Venus wasn't sure what to do with the Prince, whether to curtsy, so she performed a little bow, a compromise.
Who knows these things in Compton?
"Here we were, 10, 15 years later, it's really amazing when you think about it," Serena said after she beat Venus, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
"I'm part of the club," Serena said. "I wanted to become a member. So much history. So much prestige. I'm waiting for the pin."
She was talking about the All England Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club, which admits all champions as members. It is the only way that a black man or woman figures to become a member of such a club, if only because the money and opportunity just isn't there.
The Williamses continue to change that landscape, though they can only do so much. A lot of the fans yesterday were complaining before the match, during interviews on BBC and all over the grounds, that they would have preferred a match not involving sisters. They feared collusion, the spectators said, though they probably were more afraid of exclusion.
It isn't easy being a spectator at these matches, just like it isn't easy being a sister. For the fan, there is a sense of intrusion. If you cheer against one of the Williamses, there is a sense that the other sister would probably take you to task for it.
Everytime they play each other, near the start of the match, a wise-guy fan inevitably screams out, "Go, Williams." It happened again yesterday. But in a way, he has it right. To get where they have gone, they have looked out for each other along the way. They are not going to start arguing about a line call now, not when they are playing each other.
"It's our responsibility to take care of each other, more than anything," Venus said. "We're role models for each other. The only thing I won't do is criticize here."
That doesn't mean these matches are choreographed. The final yesterday should have dispelled such nonsensical rumors forever. The two women played superb tennis during the tight first set, before Venus' sore shoulder got the best of her serve.
Venus wouldn't use the shoulder as an excuse, though she let everyone know it was a problem. Of the two sisters, it is undoubtedly the elder who finds this whole sibling rivalry more unsettling. That's not unusual. Chris Evert said she could never even look at her sister Jeannie on the changeovers. It hurt too much. Venus is the protector, like Chris. Serena is the feisty rebel.
When the match ended, though, Serena knew who was the boss, the one to ask the important questions about etiquette and ritual. Big sister told her when to curtsy to the royals.
"As far as black people watching the match, well, maybe more will come out next time, I hope," Venus said. "I love this court. I like the way it plays."
Then the Williamses went out and won another doubles match. They are welcome here. They'll just never be indigenous to the All England Club.
Original Publication Date: 7/7/02
Sorry, sister, but move over
By By Barker Davis
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
WIMBLEDON, England Advantage Serena. Top Stories
In an all-Williams Wimbledon final that sparkled at times with the best of the Sisters Slam, Serena dethroned older sibling Venus on Centre Court yesterday, claiming her second straight Grand Slam singles title and first at the All England Club.
"I'm part of the club," said Serena, who among other things earned a lifetime membership at the game's turf temple for pounding past her sister 7-6 (4), 6-3. "I wanted to become a member of so much prestige, so much history. I want to be a part of history."
Tennis history certainly will record that 20-year-old Serena won the first truly memorable Slam showdown between the two titans. Unlike their finales at last year's U.S. Open and last month's French Open, which devolved into error-ridden debacles, yesterday's performance on Centre Court featured some staggering exchanges of power and athleticism at least during an unforgettable first set.
"It was a good match to watch," said Serena, who won her third consecutive match and fourth in nine tries against her 22-year-old sister. "We were really serving and returning. Venus was running down balls. I was running down balls. It was fun."
The first-set tiebreaker, which included six mini-breaks and eight outright winners, might have been the most staggering combination of court coverage and strength the women's game has ever witnessed. Both players had the strings singing, the chalk flying and the ball shrieking with their groundstrokes. This was a baseline bonanza, because neither player could get to the net without risking ventilation. Seriously, the net was a Kevlar-only zone in this firefight. And it was almost a shock, given the high caliber of tennis, when the sisters swapped errors to leave Serena serving at 6-4.
Serena scalded an apparent ace at set point, and the 14,000 spectators stuffed into Centre Court erupted in appreciation of the performance, nobody hearing chair umpire Jane Harvey's call of let. Whether the sisters heard the call and chose to ignore it likely will never be known. But after such a fitting finish to the brilliant first act, Harvey wasn't about to order a second take.
The closing set was somewhat less impressive, almost had to be, as Venus began struggling with fatigue in her right arm, and her serve paid the price. Averaging only 80 mph on her second serve, nearly 15 mph below her tournament average, Venus was playing from behind on virtually every second-set point.
Serena earned break points on all but one of Venus' second-set service games, and finally took penultimate control of the match when Venus double-faulted at 3-4 on break point after a lousy toss. That particular serve, her worst of the match, crawled across the net at only 67 mph and fell limply wide of the T.
"Yeah, I did have some double-faults on break points," said Venus, who refused to use her sore shoulder as an excuse after her two-year reign at Wimbledon came to an end. "But I think I played well today, to be honest. She was just pressing and hitting a lot of forceful shots. Really, she was just tremendous today."
Serena, who served out the match at love, now trails Venus by just one Slam victory (3-4). And if yesterday's play, particularly the first set, is any indication, father/coach Richard might well have been correct when he asserted that Serena would be better when both achieved their full potential. Serena won three of the four double-digit rallies the pair played yesterday, her bolder strokes paying dividends.
"We're so close right now," said Serena, who had six more winners (20) and committed three fewer errors (22). "I really think if I had missed a shot in that match, things could have swung the other way."
Venus sounded determined to see that things do swing the other way in the future. During the week she lost her No.1 ranking and her Wimbledon crown to her little sister. And if the two meet again in the U.S. Open final which seems a very safe bet after two straight Slam finals expect a relentless response from the game's current Avis.
"I've got to get down in there and fight," said Venus, when asked how she planned to take back the top spot from her sister. "That's what I'm here for, to be on top. I'm not trying to 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 or try to adjust to, because I'm not one for losing often."
Those are fighting words, rivalry words, words that should have the tennis world in a tizzy by the time the girls reach Flushing. If that kind of anticipation isn't good for tennis, then neither was the invention of the racket. Somewhere, Richard Williams is undoubtedly grinning.
"When I first walked out there on Centre Court, I was thinking about winning, but I was also thinking that my dad always said one day we'll be playing in the finals of Wimbledon, in the finals of the U.S. Open, just the big ones," said Serena. "And here we [are] 10, 15 years later. It's hard to get one champion, but now he has two. It's really amazing if you think about it."
Jul 7th, 2002, 10:28 PM
"I've got to get down in there and fight," said Venus, when asked how she planned to take back the top spot from her sister. "That's what I'm here for, to be on top. I'm not trying to 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 or try to adjust to, because I'm not one for losing often."
Venus is about to "BRING IT" but Serena also likes the top spot!
Jul 7th, 2002, 10:35 PM
Serena's fierce attack dethrones Venus
The hard-fought match also topples suspicions that their father determines who will win when they meet in a Grand Slam event.
BY STEVE WILSTEIN
WIMBLEDON, England -- Ignore the conspiracy theories. Dismiss any notions that daddy dictates who wins.
With every screaming shot and breathless dash in a Wimbledon final of exquisite fury, Serena and Venus Williams punched holes in suspicions that the fix is in when they meet on a Grand Slam stage.
They wiped away, too, worries that the emotional baggage of their close bond, never really a sibling rivalry, might be impossible for them to overcome, that all their matches would suffer from a surfeit of conflicted feelings.
This time, they played each other the way they play everyone else, Serena, particularly, showing no mercy in exploiting the slight weakness she saw in Venus's serve yesterday to end her two-year reign as Wimbledon champion, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
"It's not fun losing, no matter who you lose to," Venus said, her sad, weary expression showing how much she wanted to keep her title and how hard she had tried.
For Serena, 20, the victory validated her ascent to the No. 1 ranking, giving her a Wimbledon silver platter to go with the French Open trophy she won a month ago against Venus in a less compelling match, and the U.S. Open cup she captured in 1999.
"I just wanted Wimbledon," she said. "I wanted to become a member of so much prestige, so much history."
Serena knew before the match that Venus's right shoulder was sore, but that didn't stop her from jumping on her big sister's serves and running her dizzy with drives that kissed the corners and tattooed the lines.
"If I'm a competitor, I'm going to have to notice it," Serena said of Venus's slower serves in the second set. "Unfortunately, it's like a war out here. If there's a weakness, someone's going to have to be attacked."
Happily, the love between them wasn't diminished and probably never will be, no matter how many times they meet for the biggest prizes in tennis. They hugged at the end and 90 minutes later were back on court playing doubles -- smiling, slapping hands and beating Chanda Rubin and Anna Kournikova, 6-7 (3), 6-0, 6-3, to reach today's final.
Ever since the Williams sisters started playing each other in tournaments four years ago, there have been allegations by some players and suspicions by some writers that the winners were preordained by their father and coach, Richard Williams.
There's never been any proof of that, and Venus and Serena have always denied it. Yet their matches lacked the kind of ferocity they displayed against others, something that was probably better explained by their close ties than by any conspiracy.
This time, it was obvious how much they both wanted to win and how they could put aside their feelings.
You could see it in their resolute faces when they walked on. In the way they chased down balls that no other women could have reached. In the way they grunted on groundstrokes and serves, and groaned when they missed. In the way they faced away from each other on changeovers, Serena staring at the court, reading notes she had written to herself to stay focused, Venus turning her chair in the direction of the Royal Box.
This match, at least through the first set, had the tension and quality that their previous duels lacked. Serena forced the action, going for winners, not holding back. Venus, so often the one who dictates play, was put on the defensive, searching for openings.
One of those came when Serena was only two points from winning the first set, serving at 5-4, 30-30. Venus pelted a backhand return, one of her signature shots, and Serena dumped it into the net. Serena bore down, drilling a serve up middle, only to see Venus crush the return. Serena netted that, too, to lose the game, then angrily bounced her racket on the court.
Venus held at love to move ahead, 6-5, but then so did Serena to set up a tiebreaker. Neither one would give an inch. Winners flew off each of their rackets.
Serena got the first minibreak with a sizzling forehand into the corner, and she arrived at 6-4, serving for the set. She took her time now. Breathing deliberately. Dribbling the ball with her racket. Usually she bounced the ball five times before serving. Now she bounced it 12 times, tossed it up and sliced an ace wide of Venus's outstretched racket.
Serena would be just as careful, up a break and serving at love on the last point of the match. It was an anticlimactic moment, Venus dropping her serve the previous game with her sixth double-fault as she succumbed to the pressure and her tiring shoulder.
Serena knew she had to put the match away right there, not let her sister back in, not let emotions get in the way.
"Twenty years from now," she wondered, "am I going to regret missing this serve?"
She kneeled, gulping air to calm herself, then smacked a serve that Venus netted. There would be no regrets.
Jul 7th, 2002, 10:56 PM
Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 22:24 GMT 23:24 UK
Williams sisters show star quality
The Williams sisters could dominate for a decade
Serena and Venus Williams have raised the bar in the women's game and could stay unchallenged at the top for 10 years, according to two of the BBC's tennis pundits.
Serena fulfills promise
Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova said the Williams sisters produced some tennis of unprecedented quality in their Wimbledon singles final on Saturday.
Serena beat her elder sibling in straight sets to add a maiden Wimbledon crown to her French Open triumph earlier this year.
But Shriver was full of admiration for both players.
There were some rallies here like we've never seen before
"At moments the match did reach an incredible standard, which I think is what we're going to see in the future as they start to phase in their best play at the same time more and more," she said.
"The pace of play is incredible and other players need to learn how to deal with it."
Nine-time Wimbledon champion Navratilova added: "There were moments that were worth the price of admission and there were some rallies here like we've never seen before.
"Serena kept herself together mentally and her body language was great.
Sister act finally delivers
"If they both stay committed and take care of their bodies, they can do this for another 10 years. If they want to."
But Shriver added a note of caution for the Williams clan, saying that in the past when players have threatened to leave their peers behind the rest of the world have always caught up.
"We've seen these gaps open up at the top of the women's game before," she said.
"Although it can be painful to start, other players tend to catch up eventually and the competition intensifies."
Navratilova identified several players who could compete with the Williams sisters, provided they worked on certain parts of their game.
Navratilova won nine Wimbledon singles titles
"Lindsay Davenport matches up with her (Serena's) power, but not her speed," she said.
"Martina Hingis has the variety but she needs to get a better second serve, because right now the Williams sisters are picking on it.
"You have to mix it up and chip and charge against them, you won't be able to beat them from the baseline."
But Navratilova warned that all the top players were facing burn-out from too much tennis.
"The danger is that all the top players are playing too many tournaments per year and many on the uncompromising hard courts," she said.
"There is the danger of burn-out. The powers that be need to look long term and limit the schedules a bit."
Sunday, July 7
Wimbledon final best of sister acts
By Karen Crouse, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 7, 2002
WIMBLEDON, England -- Serena Williams was working the corners, like a spider building a web. That's how she ensnared her older sister Venus in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.
One point epitomized the athleticism and aptitude of tennis in the hands of the Slamming sisters. It was played with Serena down 6 games to 5 in the first set and serving at 30-love.
She hit booming ground strokes to Venus' backhand and her forehand, driving the two-time defending Wimbledon champion deeper and deeper, running her from side to side. The point ended with Venus ferreting out an overhead smash and flinging a forehand wide.
Serena would go on to win the game, the tiebreaker and the match, 7-6(4), 6-3 but not before she and Venus gave tennis fans something delicious to whet their appetites. The first set was a fireworks display, the likes of which had never been launched by two women in a Grand Slam final, certainly not on the hallowed grounds of the All England Club.
It was tennis as two-time Wimbledon champion Althea Gibson would have played it if she had come of age in the era of personal trainers and graphite rackets and professional purses.
It was booming, beguiling, breathtaking tennis, pushing the envelope well beyond the sonic boom that was Monica Seles versus Steffi Graf in the 1992 French Open final.
It was the most thrilling display of tennis that the Williamses have produced outside their backyard practice sessions in Palm Beach Gardens.
It was a resounding rejoinder to all the grousing that the supremacy of the Slamming sisters somehow imperils the future of women's tennis.
The sport never looked more robust than during the 45 minutes it took to decide the first set. The goosebumps we got as we teetered on the edge of our Centre Court seat weren't from any approaching rain. They were a reaction to the reign that was upon us.
The Slamming sisters were hitting so hard, we expected to find smoke on their rackets and skid marks on the grass. The whole time they were on the court, the only slices we saw were the lemons in people's tea.
On the fourth point in the sixth game, the Slamming sisters exchanged 16 strokes, each one so hard that all the crowd could do was gasp. Serena punctuated it with an overhead smash to go up 40-15.
On the 10th point of the tiebreaker, Venus returned a serve from Serena with so much pace, world-record-holder Maurice Greene couldn't have beat it to the opposite baseline. Serena thwacked it back and they'd hit back and forth with feeling three more times before Serena discharged a backhand into the net.
That brought Venus within 6-4. Serena slowly walked back to the service line and bounced the ball absently, a few more times than usual, until she could calm herself. Then she served a 100-mph ace.
Venus, 22, had served well throughout the fortnight but on this day her serve was as weak as a watered down Pimm's. After clocking 118 mph on her serve earlier in the tournament, Venus struggled to crack the century mark.
That she converted 70 percent of her first serves was not so gratifying, considering one of those serves was clocked at 85 mph. Serena attacked her sister's serves and dictated the points. She gave Venus a taste of her own ammunition.
Serena, meantime, averaged 101 mph on her first serve and never let up. When she saved a break point in the third game of the second set and broke Venus in the sixth and eighth games, it was all over except the curtsying.
"I think I played high-percentage tennis,'' Venus said. "She just was pressing and hitting a lot of forceful shots. She was hitting so deep, there weren't many opportunities to attack."
To her credit, Venus didn't come into the interview room with a giant ice chip on her right shoulder. Many players would have done that, to make their excuse self-evident. She steadfastly refused to acknowledge that she had any kind of injury at all.
"I'm a professional tennis player," she said stoically. "There's no excuses when you go out onto the court."
Spoken like a true champion.
When Serena followed her sister to the interview podium a few minutes later, the All England Club member who accompanied her announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, the 2002 Wimbledon champion."
Serena smiled broadly. "That's me,'' the 20-year-old said, making no attempt to hide her giddiness.
Her contract with Puma is in its final year, which makes it a convenient time to collect the second and third legs of the Serena Slam (all she's missing now is the Australian Open).
Having taken the Wimbledon title from Venus, Serena can now take aim at her sister's record $40 million shoe contract.
Whatever any company wants to pay her, she thinks she's worth it.
"I'm really exciting,'' Serena said, laughing. "I smile a lot. I win a lot and I'm really sexy."
On Saturday, she gave us an eyeful. It was tennis at its most titillating.
Jul 7th, 2002, 11:04 PM
Please click on link & check out the pic of Serena. Lovely and superlicious. TeeRex - you like?
Posted on Sun, Jul. 07, 2002
Little sis joins prestigious club
By MELISSA ISAACSON
AP Photo By Ted S Warren
Serena Williams holds up her trophy for the Women's Singles championship on the grounds at Wimbledon, Saturday.
WIMBLEDON, England - Like so many kid sisters who want the same privileges as big sis, Serena Williams had to have that pin.
"Now," she said as if getting her own set of keys to the family car, "I'm part of the club."
The pin is the green jacket of tennis, a symbol of a membership no one actually uses. But Serena Williams' entry into the All-England Lawn Tennis Club on Saturday provided official confirmation of something the rest of tennis has been quickly learning: Kid sis has grown up.
Now the top-ranked women's tennis player in the world, Serena Williams defeated her older sister Venus, 7-6 (4), 6-3 for her first Wimbledon title and third Grand Slam championship, snapping Venus' streak of Wimbledon titles at two.
"I really wanted Wimbledon," Serena said. "I wanted to become a member of a club with so much prestige, so much history. I wanted to be a part of history."
Though Saturday's match might have been less than a classic, considering Serena's straight-set victory, it was the most powerful, most athletic display of women's tennis Wimbledon has seen.
It also was the best match the two have played against each other. In their eight previous meetings, either injury, nerves or some combination of both produced epidemics of unforced errors.
"It was a great match," said Serena, who hit a service winner on match point, then let her racket slip from her hand. "It was really fun. We were really serving and returning, Venus running down balls, I was running down a lot of balls. It was a good match to watch."
The match took 1 hour 18 minutes, but like the final score, that statistic does not do justice to the shot-making, service returns and overall athleticism of the match.
The first set lasted 45 minutes, a contest of wills as much as it was Serena's scorching backhand versus Venus' steady replies.
Twice they broke each other's serve. One of their best moments came on a long rally in the 12th game of the set: both sisters raced the length and width of the court only to have Serena end the rally on a clever changeup that Venus punched long.
"She was just tremendous today," Venus said. "I kept my balls most times deep and on the line, and she kept returning them deep and on the line, so what can you do?"
Venus' serves were noticeably weaker by an average of 10 to 20 mph, a fact she shrugged off afterward as well as suggestions that her right shoulder was sore.
Serena Williams attacked her sister's second serve throughout the second set. She broke Venus to take a 4-2 lead, withstood Venus coming right back in the next game, then broke Venus to go up 5-3 before taking the match at love.
"Obviously if I'm a competitor, I'm going to have to notice it," Serena said of Venus' diminished serve. "Unfortunately, it's like a war out there. You know, if there's a weakness, [you] have to attack."
Serena already had secured the No. 1 ranking from Venus by virtue of her semifinal victory over Amelie Mauresmo.
But even before that, there was little doubt about the hottest player in women's tennis. Serena staked her claim by winning in Rome in May, defeating Jennifer Capriati and Justine Henin, and then winning the French Open by beating Mary Pierce, Capriati and, in the final, Venus.
WIMBLEDON, England (CNN) -- Serena Williams took her first Wimbledon tennis crown Saturday, topping her sister Venus 7-6, 6-3 on the grass court.
Venus had won the tournament for the past two years. Serena has won the last two Grand Slam tournaments, including the French Open. CNN Correspondent Richard Quest was at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and he filed this report:
QUEST: We had some splendid tennis taking place on Centre Court just behind me.
Any allegations or questions or suggestions that the Williams sisters weren't going to go out and attack each other on the court, we can put that to rest. The tennis has been fast and furious.
Venus Williams at one stage broke her sister's serve in the 10th game of the first set. The two of them were serving and volleying and rallying extremely powerfully. And because they both have the same style of tennis, to a certain extent, pushing the ball to the very back of the court, forcing their opponent to the baseline, there were some tremendous rallies between both Venus and Serena.
Venus was defending her championship title here. She was going for a third championship in a row, a feat not accomplished since Steffi Graf did it in the early 1990s.
But Serena had actually won against her sister more times in recent matches. Over the eight times that they've met in a Grand Slam tournament, Venus Williams has won five and Serena three. But those three have been the most recent three.
One of Serena's fastest serves on Centre Court today behind me was 110 miles an hour. Now, that is formidable. That's the sort of serving speed that one would expect to see in perhaps the men's finals, in the men's championships.
I know that when I saw Serena Williams play earlier in the week, when she was playing against Amelie Mauresmo from France, when I saw that game, I mean, you saw that ball coming toward you, I'd run in the opposite direction, never mind stand there and try and hit it back. But Venus Williams has hit it back on numerous occasions.
The father of the sisters, Richard Williams, isn't here, he's not well at the moment.
The mother, with her rather bright Afro, she was here. She's was in the special enclosure.
I think there must be the most phenomenal pride, because, you see, not only are the Williams sisters playing excellent tennis, everybody to a person here agrees they are lovely people, they're well-rounded people.
We've seen Serena Williams in the break between games, sitting and praying. You don't see that every day on the Wimbledon Centre Court.
TENNIS: Big sister vows revenge
By LEO SCHLINK
DETERMINED to reclaim both the jewel and the crown, Venus Williams yesterday vowed to end sister Serena's new-found dominance after losing both the Wimbledon title and the world No. 1 ranking. Advertisement
Handicapped by a sore shoulder which neutralised her usually devastating serving, Venus was beaten 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 by Serena in the first all-sister Wimbledon final since Maud and Lilian Watson emerged from a field of 13 in 1884 to dispute the All England Club championship.
While decided in straight sets, the ninth of the Williams sisters' encounters was their best yet and a vast improvement over the strangely flat French Open final won by Serena and the equally tepid US Open decider won by Venus over the past 10 months.
Venus, 21, refused to concede her right shoulder and neck was sore, making no excuse for the sub-standard serving which left her vulnerable to Serena's searing drives. The winner now of three different majors Wimbledon, French and US Open Serena will today move to No. 1 in the rankings, having won 10 titles and lost only four matches over the past year.
As emphatic as those achievements have been, Venus is not ready to accept her little sister's superiority.
"It's great to see Serena doing well because, for a while there, she wasn't doing her best," Venus said. "Now I think she has to feel better that she's taken full advantage of her career.
"She was just tremendous. It wasn't like there was a lot between us but, on some of those points, she was getting some that I couldn't get. She just had a better shot.
"I still feel that I am in a dominant position, but it's virtually impossible to win every match. I aspire to do so, but it doesn't always happen.
"Normally, I have a high winning percentage. I guess I'll hang in there and stay on tour.
"That's what I'm here for, to be on top. Not trying to linger around at No. 2. I've done my personal best this year. I don't think I could do more."
The Williams sisters have contested three of the past four finals. It might have been four in a row had not Serena severely injured her ankle in Sydney in January before the Australian Open and Venus had overcome Monica Seles in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
As it is, the pair is being unfairly criticised for their excellence.
Serena, who burst to 1999 US Open victory before losing her way, was a revelation.
Renowned as the more emotional of the sisters, the occasionally wayward Serena settled herself on the changeovers by reading hand-written notes.
"They were just simple things," she said of the reminders. "Just look at the ball, just simple things like that, because normally I get unfocused when I'm sitting down, I start to look around.
"Venus doesn't really have that problem."
Equipped with astonishing power, particularly off her forehand wing, Serena has been accused of lacking the grit to beat Venus in extreme circumstances.
But she revealed welcome ambition by admitting she had planned the coup in January.
"In the beginning of the year I said I don't care what happens this year, I want to win Wimbledon," she said.
"It was an extra bonus for me to win the French. I couldn't even believe I won, but I just so much wanted Wimbledon. I wanted to become a member of so much prestige, so much history. I want to be part of history."
Serena destroyed Venus with greater accuracy, power and consistency. The decisive moment came in the eighth game of the second set when Venus, attempting to draw level after breaking Serena's serve for 3-4, hit two double faults the second at a pitifully pedestrian 115km/h.
The victory was Serena's third major and the sisters' seventh. Venus has won two US Opens and a pair of Wimbledon trophies.
Serena is only the third black American female to win Wimbledon. Althea Gibson (1957-58) and Venus (2000-1) are the others.
She is only the 11th player since computer rankings were introduced in 1975 to command the world No. 1 ranking.
She is the first player since Lindsay Davenport in 1999, and the 26th overall, to win the championships without dropping a set.
After all the worry about a Wimbledon final where the protagonists wanted each other to win as much as themselves, Williams v Williams actually turned out to be a rather entertaining affair.
A classic encounter was probably too much to hope for.
But given the poor quality of the past fortnight in the women's singles, the sisters can justifiably claim to have produced one of the best of the tournament.
Review of the women's singles
Both players even did passing impressions of actually wanting to win.
Serena pumped her fist as she marched towards victory while Venus emitted a Hewitt-style "C'mon" when she finally succeeded with a passing shot.
Serena's tennis in a tightly-fought contest had been simply breathtaking
The crowd were clearly delighted, and not a little surprised.
Expecting little more than an exhibition match, they actually witnessed a genuine sporting spectacle featuring the two best exponents of women's tennis.
Admittedly, the atmosphere was still strangely subdued for a Wimbledon final, a stark contrast to the emotionally-charged tension from Friday's match between Tim Henman and Lleyton Hewitt.
Roar of approval
The chants were not for one player or the other, but for USA, and bursts of applause greeted great rallies rather than great winners.
But there was a roar of approval greeted Serena's moment of triumph, not because another stale family affair was at an end, but her tennis in a tightly-fought contest had been simply breathtaking.
At the end of the French Open final, Venus had jostled and laughed among the bank of photographers as she tried to get her own shot of baby sis with the trophy.
The crowd loved the moment, but there was something quite unsettling about watching the culmination of a sporting event when the loser did not seem to care.
Thankfully, this final was different.
While Venus managed a smile for the BBC cameras, the 21-year-old was clearly devastated that her beloved Wimbledon title had been snatched away from her.
She was happy for Serena to prevail in Paris, but Wimbledon was the domain in which the balance of power was hers, or so she thought.
Her demeanour in the post-match press conference said it all - shoulders hunched, eyes downcast, she could barely raise a smile and it changed little when she returned to play doubles later in the afternoon.
Serena, meanwhile, wore the smile of a champion, of a player who had produced her best tennis when it counted.
She had prevailed in a match with her sister which, for once, had lived up to its billing as a Championship final.
Sturdy Serena is sister superior
Venus surrenders title in full-blooded Centre Court battle
Sunday July 7, 2002
At last the whiff of cordite. Serena and Venus Williams, whose combative natures have deserted them in the past when they have confronted each other across the net, produced a Wimbledon women's final yesterday during which you half expected gun smoke to drift across Centre Court. After 78 minutes of serious ball-bashing, Serena won 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 to depose her older sister as champion and become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1996 to complete the exacting double of capturing the French Open on clay and the Wimbledon title on grass in the space of a month.
None of their eight previous meetings, three of them won by Serena, had convinced sceptics that the American siblings did not view their matches as glorified practice sessions. More the whiff of damp squibs than cordite. Here, though, under brightening skies, was a contest of genuine fury that finally offered hope that the long sequence of finals we can look forward to between the world's top-ranked players - Serena will overtake Venus to move up to number one tomorrow - will be worthy of our anticipation.
Criticising the Williamses for their bloodless contests since they first met in earnest four years ago is easy. It must be hard for two such devoted siblings to reach the level of competitiveness that they do against other players, a fact that is most evident when they fall into each others' arms at the end of their matches.
Yesterday, Serena, who at 20 is 15 months younger than her sister, dropped her racket to the turf in her moment of victory and stood rooted to the spot for a few seconds. With the sun now glinting on the tiara that she wears to keep her blonde tresses in place, she then waved to the crowd, cast a glance at her mother Oracene sat in the stands and ran forward to put a consoling arm round Venus's shoulders, her joy at winning her third grand-slam title - she also won the 1999 US Open - diluted by the fact that her best friend had just lost.
But this was undoubtedly Serena's day, the ferocity and accuracy of her hitting off the ground of a level that might have frightened a few players on the men's tour. Certainly it took its toll on Venus, who from the middle of the second set was frequently fighting to get her breath back. Not only had she been made to run all afternoon, but the sheer weight of Serena's muscular strokes had sapped her strength. 'Everything I tried she came up with a better shot,' Venus said, 'and when they're better shots you have to accept them.'
The one query over Venus's performance was the gradual drop-off in pace on her first serve, but she denied later that she was suffering from a shoulder strain. She said that she had merely been going for a high percentage of first serves and had been conserving energy.
Serena, who was rewarded with a cheque for £486,000 as she completed her fifty-second win in 56 matches in the past year, took a tie break off her sister for the first time to win the opening set, a 44-minute demonstration of power-hitting that surely cannot have been equalled during a women's match at Wimbledon.
Serena surged to a 5-3 lead, Venus pegged her back to 5-5, but in the tie break a forehand winner of unbelievable savagery from Serena gave her 3-1 advantage that she was in no mood to relinquish.
In the second set, Venus's resistance ebbed away as Serena continued to batter her with a fusillade of ground strokes and deep, accurate serves. A second service break gave Serena a 5-3 lead and, fittingly, she closed out the match with a love game, three unanswerable serves finishing the job. What does Venus have to do to beat her younger sister? 'Get down there and fight,' she said, wanly.
Where this current domination by the Williams sisters will take the women's game is an anguished question for all but the two ladies themselves. The Women's Tennis Association, who oversee the game's distaff side, the agents who direct the players' careers and all those players who are not the progeny of Richard and Oracene Williams must be wondering what they can do to stop the sport's annexation.
Venus and Serena have now won seven of the last 12 grand slams and four of the last five, with Jennifer Capriati the only non-Williams in possession of one of the four major titles after her victory in the final of this year's Australian Open in Melbourne.
There have been glimmers of hope of the deadly duo's vincibility this past fortnight. Maureen Drake, a Canadian player known only to the most diligent of tennis buffs, actually captured a set off Venus in the third round but was punished for her impertinence by being allowed just three more games.
Els Callens, a Belgian qualifier, took Serena to two tie breaks. They were no more than glimmers, though.
Capriati, reckoned to be the one player who might trouble the sisters here, lost in two one-sided sets to Amιlie Mauresmo, who then lost in two even more one-sided sets to Serena. 'I think it's a little bit sad for women's tennis,' said a downcast Mauresmo.
At the moment the best hope seems to be that Venus and Serena lose interest - but what sort of solution is that?
Yesterday, for the first time in tennis history, two sisters played each other in the final of consecutive Grand Slams.
It was an extraordinary achievement. Perhaps even greater than the 'million-to-one shot' which is how Serena described replacing her sister as number one. Yet there were many who, in their wisdom, proclaimed the event to be predictable and boring. Many who blamed the Williams sisters for others' failings and who failed, because of their antipathy to the pair, to recognise that in the past year Serena and Venus have taken the women's game to a new level.
As they've improved, the criticisms have become more obtuse and less convincing. One commentator described them as 'a freak show' and another 'unrefined, unrestrained and joyless', even though lack of restraint is conventionally considered to be a thing of joy. They are 'ungainly and brutal', possessing 'power not grace', he continued. Grace, of course, lies in the eye of the beholder, and for every churl there are those who admire Venus's transformation from gawky teenager to graceful champion. As for power, that should be a compliment, not a complaint. The days of dolly-bird pit-a-pat are long gone. Serena and Venus play a game that is as different from their contemporaries as Martina Navratilova's was from Chris Evert.
On Thursday afternoon, Serena Williams played a succession of games against Amelie Mauresmo that may be among the best ever played by a woman. It was relentless, intimidating tennis - the ball hit at hitherto unseen speeds onto line after line after line. Mauresmo couldn't get within a yard of many of the Williams returns, and Mauresmo is no slouch or Betty Stove.
In the quarter-final, she had battered Jennifer Capriati; in the semi-final she was a spectator. And Williams, like McEnroe in his pomp, at times appeared to be playing against herself. There were no safety shots, just a series of blistering winners. For the first time ever, at this Wimbledon it is the men who are the baseliners, and the two Williams sisters who are playing power, short-rally tennis.
Mauresmo, who attempted to match Serena, was left powerless. Perhaps, like the 31-year-old Belgian qualifier Els Callens, she should have chipped and chopped, sliced her forehand and backhand. Callens, after all, is the only woman to have taken more than three games in a set off Serena Williams at this tournament, when in the third round she took her to consecutive tie-breaks by taking the pace out of the game. Such a strategy might have delayed Serena, but it could never defeat her.
Back to those commentators: 'To put it another way, there is nothing lady-like about her [Venus]', and her tennis is 'grinding, relentless savage'. 'I hope you both lose', he concluded. But in this he will be disappointed because, once again, both the Williams sisters won yesterday afternoon.
Early in the tournament, Serena was asked, rather stupidly: 'Would you like to meet Venus in the final or would you rather meet someone else?' 'Well, obviously, I would like to see Venus do as well as she can. I would never hope for her lose. So obviously I would like her to go all the way. I would like to go all the way, too.'
And with few alarms, they both did. To set up yesterday's confrontation, which was the best they have ever played against each other in public without either of them playing as well as they have against other opponents in this tournament. This was inevitable because the Williamses are not only sisters but, through going on tour together and living together, more a couple. In this respect they resemble twins. They copy each other, they support each other, they finish each other's sentences, they give similar answers to the same old questions, they are much happier playing with each other than against each other. As long as one of them wins, that is all that matters.
They bask and reflect in each other's glory - particularly this year, when they are watched over by their laid-back mother rather than their limelight-loving father. Their finals are not fixed, they are just very hard for either sister to play with the same intensity as they bring to their normal games. There is too much shared history preventing them playing at their best in the present.
Little wonder their games sometimes resemble a demonstration more than a contest. When Serena won, she simply dropped her racket to the ground. It was a gesture of relief, not release. We are so used to seeing them as a pair that it is hard to know which one to support and, one suspects, they are so used to being a pair that they don't care overmuch about the result either.
What is certain is that tennis will have to get used to the idea that its Grand Slam finals are likely to continue to be somewhat muted family affairs. They are most unlikely to rack up a series of epics against each other. But to blame the Williams sisters for this is as perverse as slagging off Tiger Woods for being halfway to a Grand Slam. And if you want to see them at their best, you can always watch them play together in this afternoon's doubles final.
Serena upstages Venus to take title
06 July 2002
Having stolen her number one world ranking, Serena Williams tore the Wimbledon crown from the head of her elder sister Venus on Saturday.
It was a 7-6 6-3 Centre Court shakedown of unparalleled cruelty for Venus and one which signalled beyond any doubt a new world order in women's tennis.
Twenty-two year old Venus had been seeking a third successive Wimbledon crown. Instead she was humbled in front of her mother, friends and a packed showcourt arena as Serena etched her name in the sport's record books.
Aged 20, Serena became only the eighth woman in the last 50 years to toss the French Open crown into her luggage and head over the English Channel to Wimbledon to repeat the feat.
"It is amazing," Serena beamed to the crowd. "You know, I was playing a two-times Wimbledon champion ... it is hard to beat Venus here."
Punch-drunk and blinking around the stadium for support, the stunned Venus struggled to take in the defeat.
"She just really played every time a better shot," she said. "When she's got better shots, sometimes you've got to accept it. She was just tremendous today. I would have liked to have won but, once again, too late."
Venus stepped onto the court ignoring the cloudy skies to don a sun visor while Serena appeared in a sparkling tiara -- a more appropriate choice for a champion-elect and fitting for an historic clash.
Only once before had sisters contested a Wimbledon singles final -- in 1884 when Maud Watson, corset, hat, long skirts and all, beat Lilian.
It is safe to say Saturday's high-octane clash was a very different affair.
Serena's grunting and growling, while never reaching the level of volume or gruffness reserved for opponents she is intent on destroying, was present from the very first point, providing a vocal reminder that sister or no sister, she meant business.
The pair traded fearsome blows from the baseline and it was Serena who got her claws into Venus's serve first, breaking for 2-1 in the opening set. Venus avenged it with a break of her own -- in total the pair swapped four breaks of serve as the opener entered a tiebreak.
Serena was tracking balls she had no right to reach and, as the tiebreak wore on, the look on Venus's face said it all, a mixture of anger and hurt.
Hugely powerful forehands left Serena's racket and smacked onto the lines as she pulled away in the shootout and she sealed it with a 100 miles (160.9 km) per hour ace after 44 minutes of breathtaking winners.
Forehand winner after forehand winner flew into the corners of the court accompanied by groans of satisfaction from Serena to leave Venus battered and bewildered on the court she has owned for the past two years.
Serena finally got the second set breakthrough in the sixth game when Venus patted a forehand into the net cord. Despite dropping serve immediately she again broke for a 5-3 lead and, playing some of the best tennis of her fortnight, clinched victory with a 103 miles per hour (165.8 kph) service winner.
The tennis was at an entirely different level to the disappointing French Open final in May.
That Venus was beaten by Serena in that final will have made Saturday's result no easier to stomach.
These days, it seems, little sister is the headline act in the production father Richard calls 'The Williams Show'.
Richard was not in London to see Serena collect her third grand slam crown -- she won her first at the 1999 U.S. Open. Instead it was left to mom Oracene to witness the beating doled out by one sibling to the other.
It did not make comfortable viewing as Venus struggled to come to terms with what was unfolding on Centre Court.
Venus, so often the playground bully imposing her will on all and sundry on court, was force-fed a dose of her own medicine by the shorter but more muscular Serena.
As soon as the final ball was struck, though, it was two sisters hugging at the net, consoling and celebrating in equal measure.
As the pair waited for the prize-giving ceremony, Serena brushed a hair from Venus's face and touched her back in a moment of tenderness far removed from the heat of battle just moments earlier.
Certainly once the gunsmoke had cleared, the magnitude of Serena's victory was not lost on her.
"At the beginnign of the year I said I really want to win Wimbledon. There is so much history, so much prestige," she said.
"And I mean, I am a member here at this club now -- this is going to be my major hangout, don't you know.
"I am just so happy. I always believe that the way Venus plays sometimes it is impossible to beat her.
"Sometimes in practice I'm not good enough even to be her partner. You know, if I had missed one shot in that match today it could have swung the other way and she would be sat her now, champion again."
Instead Serena is champion, winning a third grand slam title three years after her first -- the U.S. Open in 1999.
"Yeah, times were low a year ago," she said, reflecting on the barren period between then and Roland Garros last month. "But you know, it's high tide now ... it's high tide."
"Among all these journalists, aristocrats and volunteers more than 100, in all not a single one looked anything like the two women who had just put on such an extraordinary exhibition of tennis. To find any African-Americans in the audience, you had to look up to the players' box, to the outrageously funky, orange wig of Oracene and to the supportive group of family members and friends."
Some wonder why we say, "Say it LOUD; I'm Black, and I'm Proud!!!!!"
Little sister powers way to tough win over Venus
BY JUAN C. RODRIGUEZ
WIMBLEDON, England - No one asked her the question, but Serena Williams answered it anyway.
Venus Williams' forehand return found the Centre Court net on match point. A moment later, Serena shrugged her shoulders with arms extended and palms pointed skyward as though a cosmic voice had just inquired if she was really that good.
In Saturday's Wimbledon final, she was.
The second-seeded and younger half of the Williams family tennis conglomerate, Serena added another major to her growing collection with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win over top-seeded Venus. In doing so, Serena denied her sister a third consecutive Wimbledon title and became the seventh player in the Open era to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year.
''I was just amazed that I won Wimbledon,'' said Serena, who's now an Australian Open shy of the career Grand Slam. ``Normally when you set your goals, you set them above what you can reach. You reach for the sky, land on a star. That's how I normally do it. I set them way up there, and I got it.''
What the All England Club got was the most awesome display of women's power tennis ever to grace its lawns. Unlike the string of error-laden matches Venus and Serena have contested, this one was a gem.
The two battered each other from the baseline, exchanging punishing groundstrokes and dazzling spectators with their athleticism. Serena was the more aggressive player, for the most part keeping her equally offensive-minded sister in defensive postures.
''She was just tremendous,'' said Venus, who has now lost three straight matches (six sets) to Serena. ``She just had the better shot. I played well, to be honest, and high-percentage tennis. She just was pressing and hitting a lot of forceful shots.''
Like the rest of their meetings, Venus didn't let the outcome interfere with being the big sister. At the French Open, she joined the photographers' row and snapped pictures of Serena accepting the trophy. Saturday, Venus went over just before the postmatch presentation and reminded Serena to curtsy when accepting the Venus Rosewater Dish.
''She's always gone overboard with me,'' Serena said, as her two cell phones buzzed. ``She's always done everything, gone out of her way to make sure I was happy. She's just done things for me nobody would have done. Hopefully, we'll share a lot of Grand Slam titles between us.''
Serena logged the last of three alternating breaks and served out the match at love. Three of her last four serves topped 100 mph. The last two to Venus' forehand never came back.
Among the tour's hardest servers, Venus didn't have enough on her deliveries to bother Serena. Though she topped out at 111 mph, Venus didn't crack more than a handful at more than 105.
''I'm going for a higher first-serve [percentage],'' Venus said. ``How about that? I like that answer.''
In fact, Serena later revealed Venus' right shoulder was a source of discomfort. That helps explain the double faults, including one during the pivotal eighth game of the second set on break point, giving Serena a 5-3 edge.
''I knew [her shoulder] was hurting her beforehand,'' Serena said.
'I said, `Are you OK?' She said, 'Oh yeah, I'm going to be OK.' 'Are you going to be all right?' 'Oh, yeah. Don't worry about me.' You really have to respect her not only as a person, as a player, as a sister, because not everyone would do that. She never lets anything bother her like that. She's a real champion.''
Both competed like champions in the opening set.
Serena had broken twice and was two points from the winning the set when Venus won four straight points to level the match at 5-all.
Both players held their ensuing service games at love to force the third tiebreak in nine career matches.
Serena won six of the first nine points and ripped a 100-mph ace out wide to the deuce court on her second set point. Chair umpire Jane Harvey called a let on the serve, but neither Venus nor Serena heard it. Harvey didn't compel them to go back on court and replay the point.
''When I was able to win the first set, I think I got a little lackadaisical,'' Serena said. 'I got a little too satisfied. I said to myself, `You're going to be telling your grandkids about this day, how you didn't take your opportunity.' Then that's when I decided I just needed to go ahead and take my opportunity.''
Thus far in 2002, Serena has not let many title chances slip past. She began the year ranked No. 6 in the world and dropped as low No. 9 at the end of February. Monday, she'll top the rankings for the first time in her career.
Since winning the Scottsdale, Ariz., event in early March, Serena has lost just two of 37 matches. Saturday's win made it 19 in a row.
'In the beginning of the year, I said, `You know, I don't care what happens this year, I want to win Wimbledon,' '' Serena said.
``It was an extra bonus for me to win the French, but I just wanted Wimbledon. I wanted to become a member of so much prestige, so much history. I want to be a part of history.''
Whether she is or not is a question she has already answered.
Jul 7th, 2002, 11:55 PM
Williams sisters take doubles title, too
WIMBLEDON, England -- A day after Serena beat Venus in the women's final at Wimbledon, the Williams sisters were back on Centre Court. This time, both were winners.
Venus and Serena Williams won their second Wimbledon doubles title in three years.
With a cold wind swirling and rain clouds threatening, the sisters beat French Open champions Paola Suarez and Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-2, 7-5 Sunday to take the women's doubles title.
They broke serve at love to wrap up the match with the same type of power that marked the first set of their singles match the day before.
Venus hit a booming forehand that Pascual mis-hit. Love-15. Serena smashed a backhand from the baseline that forced Pascual into a backhand error into the net. Love-30. Venus hit a backhand winner down the line, love-40. Back to Serena, who hit another stinging forehand. Match over.
There were no fist pumps, no major celebrations. But a big wave from Serena and a customary twirl from Venus, and the siblings had their second Wimbledon title in three years, their fifth Grand Slam title overall and a seal on their domination of this year's women's draw.
After playing seven rounds each in singles and six in doubles, the Williams' Wimbledon ledger reads 19 wins, 1 loss. The defeat belonged to Venus in the Sister Slam final, but someone had to lose. And at least they kept it in the family.
"I'm going to eat candy, rest, get off the practice court and just relax, relax, relax,'' Venus said.
Venus and Serena broke Pascual and Suarez five times in nine opportunities, including three times in the opening set when there were five breaks of serve.
Venus held in the opening game and the sisters broke in the next game to go up 2-0. Pascual and Suarez broke back, then held for 2-2.
In the fourth game, Venus, hitting from behind the baseline, plopped Suarez in the stomach near the net with a forehand blast that appeared to temporarily stun the Argentine player.
The Williams' held, broke and held again for 5-2. They won the first set on their second set point when Venus' drop shot was backhanded into the crowd by Suarez.
There were plenty of long and exciting rallies, several that involved six or seven consecutive volleys among all four players.
In the final game of the opening set, Pascual fell and spun off court after returning a ball, but the Spanish player managed to get back into the play two points later. The Williams sisters still won the point.
Venus and Serena lamented their lack of shopping time in London, but their suitcases will be packed with a miniature replica of the Venus Rosewater Dish -- Serena's for the singles crown -- and two miniatures of the Challenge Cup for doubles.
But they also left some stuff behind. Serena contributed the dress she wore in the singles final and her shoes and socks to the Wimbledon museum.
When asked whether the sisters have set a new standard for women's tennis with their performance at Wimbledon, Venus said things could get better.
"We've had a great past six weeks with the French Open (where Serena also beat Venus in the women's final) and Wimbledon,'' said Venus. "But we realize that doesn't make a career.
"We want to just keep our level up, at this level that we're playing now, and also to improve. We have plenty of time in the future to savor it.''
Wimbledon, England -- The sport of women's tennis is free. A pair of sisters may hold it hostage, but it is soaring into the future now, above suspicion. What happened on Wimbledon's Centre Court on Saturday was a true awakening.
People figured it would be too early for Serena and Venus Williams to play a great match, that sisterly affection might still get in the way. Maybe they doubted that the matches are fixed, but they couldn't shake the notion entirely.
Then Serena went out and won Wimbledon, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 over Venus, in the greatest display of power tennis the women's game has ever seen. The tepid applause of past years turned to full-throated cheering. The miserable head- shaking turned to gasps of amazement. And most importantly, grumpy skepticism gave way to unabashed appreciation.
This was the third time Venus and Serena had played each other in the last four Grand Slam events, and the 10th time in their professional lives, but those numbers lie. Saturday was the first, because it literally changed the game.Everyone knew that, separately, the sisters had revolutionary power. They knew that the Williams' 1-and-2 world ranking had been earned by old-fashioned domination. But they hadn't seen anything like this. Chris Evert changed tennis with her two-handed backhand, Martina Navratilova with modern-day conditioning. There was Steffi Graf, literally leaving the ground to strike historically powerful forehands, and then Monica Seles, hitting the ball even harder. Saturday was all that, with a little Ali-Frazier thrown in.
The sisters traded blows on even terms, without inhibition or the fear of making the other look bad. They were the best of friends but held nothing back.
There were exchanges in the first set so chillingly brilliant, you realized it was an entirely new level -- and that it won't be vanishing any time soon. "I think we've played great tennis against each other before, but not really in the Grand Slams," Serena said. "This is up there, for sure. I've always felt that the way Venus plays sometimes, it's just impossible to beat her. But I played really good today. It was fun, a really great match. I think the crowd really got into it."
It was a curiously humid day at the All England Club, bringing rare appearances by a lively horde of moths, dragonflies and other strange little creatures on their way to torment the Royal Box ("You take the Duchess, I'll get Admiral Essenhigh"). The match seemed to fit the climate, for there was something different about it from the very beginning.
Traditionally, a "great point" at Wimbledon is a swirl of drop shots, backhand-snap overheads, full-extension dives, frantic dashes from net to baseline, grass stains on the shirt, shoe prints on photographers' heads and approving yelps from World War II wing commanders. This wasn't as wild or as noisy, but you haven't seen the light until you've watched the Williams sisters pack a half-dozen perfect, rocket-like groundstrokes into a single rally, shots unreturnable for everyone but themselves.
Unforced errors? There couldn't have been more than a few. Traditional statistics are redefined with the sisters because they force everything, with a fury. The match details fade quickly from the memory, replaced by broader themes: Serena simply took the first set from her big sister, uncorking an ace down the middle to finish off the tiebreaker. And Venus wouldn't give up the fight.
When the girls were grade-school age, a frustrated Serena would sometimes cry out, "Just give me one game!" When Serena turned 16, Venus said, "I'm going to keep my eye on that girl. She's getting very dangerous." Saturday brought the arrival of equality -- and honest conflict. Down 0-1 and 15-40 after a double-fault in the second set, Venus had reached the point where, for any other player, it was time for a shower and scones. Just too much heat from Serena; can't stand it anymore. But Venus held that service game, then broke serve for 3-4 a bit later on."I think I played well, to be honest," Venus said.
"High-percentage tennis. I was on my game. But Serena was just tremendous today, really hitting a lot of forceful shots. The only answer is to get down there and fight. We're entertainers; that's what we try to do out there."As it turned out, Venus' right shoulder was acting up, hardly a surprise for someone who makes a living from 120-mph serves. She hit a forehand into the net to go down 15-40, and on Serena's second break point, Venus horribly netted a 67-mph serve for a double-fault and 3-5. This time, even the big sister had run out of answers.It was 3:30 p.m. under a refreshingly sunny sky when Serena stepped to the service line at 40-0, match point. She took a huge breath. "I was thinking, OK, there's a bright side to everything," she said later. "If I lose the game, I'm still up 5-4, so just relax. I was thinking, 20 years from now, am I going to regret missing this serve? Am I going to have to tell my grandkids about this (laughter)? That sort of calmed me down."drilled a huge first serve to Venus' forehand, a bullet struck hard into the net, and the crowd broke into a loud, lingering applause reminiscent of the best Wimbledon finals over the years. Venus went right past the handshake, wrapping a long arm over Serena's shoulder and drawing her close. They chatted together as pomp followed circumstance, Venus reminding Serena to curtsey when she was handed the big silver plate.
One could only remember two years ago, when the sisters met in a Wimbledon semifinal so lifeless, both players were crestfallen. Venus looked stern through the onset of victory, and as she approached Serena, she whispered, "Let's get out of here."
Now they were chatting up royalty, laughing heartily with tournament chairman Alan Mills, delighting the crowd with witty comments over the microphone. They were two classy young women with seven Grand Slam trophies between them and their prime years yet to come.
"I can't become satisfied," Serena said later. "When I won the U.S. Open I relaxed for a while, and I learned you can't do that. People are really gonna be fighting to beat me now. Winning the French was unbelievable, but this is what I wanted most this year. Wimbledon has so much history, so much prestige. I wanted to be a member, part of the club. This is gonna be my main hangout now."
As they left for the locker room, the feeling around Centre Court was fresh and pure. A great burden had been lifted, the hype of "fixed matches" having drowned in its own silliness. What a show.
----------- Third time's a charm The third meeting in a Grand Slam final between Venus and Serena Williams proved to be the best:
-- Serena def. Venus, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
-- Winners: Serena 20, Venus 14
-- Unforced errors: Serena 25, Venus 22
2002 FRENCH OPEN
-- Serena def. Venus, 7-5, 6-3
-- Winners: Serena 19, Venus 4
-- Unforced errors: Serena 59, Venus 56
2001 U.S. OPEN
-- Venus def. Serena, 6-2, 6-4
-- Winners: Serena 16, Venus 7
-- Unforced errors: Serena 36, Venus 19
Jul 8th, 2002, 12:21 AM
Okay you all - I have to go clean up the kitchen now. And w/posting all of these articles - I am getting ready to watch the final again.
You are more than welcome.
Nite - nite.
"WAY TO GO - VENUS & SERENA" "CONGRATS ON WINNING THE WIMBY DOUBLES TITLE" "HAVE A SAFE & WONDERFUL TRIP HOME" "TAKE CARE OF YOUR DADDY"
WIMBLEDON, England--She shrieked. She grunted. She made so much noise that the well-polished bluebloods at Centre Court began to look at each other and blush. And it was quite all right, really, because the more Serena Williams pumped her fist and emitted wild sounds and stared down her sister after winning another point, it gave this sleepy sibling summit precisely what it needed.
Validation. Drama. Historical impact.
"A war,'' Serena said.
There is nothing like the fevered echoes of competition to bolster the point that, yes, indeed, the Williamses do want to beat each other. They will need some time to sort it out emotionally, but for now, it's the younger sis who has crashed through the awkwardness of competing against kin and is growling and scrapping for the biggest toy of their lives. Answering critics who say the sisters are blase, uninspired and given to pre-plotting results when playing each other, Serena became the rage of stuffy Wimbledon. She proved she's currently the best Williams--and, therefore, the world's best female player--with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory Saturday in their ongoing Sister Slam.
The match wasn't a classic in an Evert-Navratilova context. But for the first time in their three Grand Slam finals, it brought out fire and fury from polite, down-to-earth housemates who haven't always understood the public fuss about their previously lukewarm rivalry. If Serena wanted to take it easy on her sister, she had reason this time. Venus was bothered by a sore shoulder and neck that reduced speeds of her normally lethal serve from 125 mph to the low 90s. But rather than show sympathy and let up, Serena went for the kill. She responded with vicious service returns, heaving her powerful legs and arms into every groundstroke. The missiles wore down Venus, which, you might be shocked to learn, was Serena's strategy.
"Yeah, especially in the second set, I noticed her serve [getting slower],'' she said. "Definitely, obviously, if I'm a competitor, I'm going to have to notice something like that. It's like a war out here. If there's a weakness, someone's going to have to be attacked. Unfortunately, it was too bad.''
Those, I believe, are fighting words. Just as Venus voiced words of disappointment, if hardly bitterness, after losing her Wimbledon three-peat bid. "It's no fun losing in a final, no matter who you lose to,'' she said, refusing to use her injury as an excuse. "It's not something I'm going to get used to or try to adjust to because I'm not one for losing often. So I'm going to go out there and try to win next time.''
But can she? Isn't Serena on such a dominant roll that she may be unbeatable at the U.S. Open? Right now, she sounds like every younger sister who always has lived in an older sister's shadow and finally is gaining her due. Reflected Venus: "From the time I was little, I was always very, very good. Serena, on the other hand, wasn't very good at all. She was small, really slim, and the racket was way too big for her. Hopeless. That's why it's great to see her doing so well. Even last year, she wasn't doing her best or trying her best in her preparation. Now I think she has to feel that she has taken full advantage of her career.''
Full advantage is putting it mildly. What's about to happen is more than Serena, the bubbly 20-year-old with the golden braids and accessories, ever imagined. She has used this fortnight to break out as a global star, emerging as the Q-rating queen of the family. In the American pecking order, Serena is the clear No. 1 now as a tennis champion and a personality. Venus, inward and guarded, could use a fun implant.
Serena? No coincidence the skies finally brightened above south London the day she won her first Wimbledon plate and third Grand Slam title. She has a smile that could crack a Buckingham Palace guard, a disposition you could trust with any secret, a style ready-made for an hour on Oprah. Ready to make it big, kid?
"Well, I definitely am,'' said Serena, showing off her sort-of-kidding humor. "I'm really exciting. I smile a lot, I win a lot and I'm really sexy.''
Hmmm. Any danger of success being detrimental, especially after her party-hardy ways and LaVar Arrington dalliances of last year? "No. Impossible. None of it goes to my head,'' she said. "I have normal friends. I'm just as normal as anyone else, but I know it's going to be impossible to be the same.''
Every time she yapped away too much, she made sure to say something nice about Venus. Once a sister, always a sister. Asked if she finally was fulfilling her father's prediction that she would surpass Venus as the better player, Serena quickly backed off. "No. I don't know,'' she said. "I just always believe the way Venus plays at times, it's impossible to beat her. Because sometimes, even in practice, I'm really fighting just to get the ball back and I don't think I'm a good enough partner for her. Really, if I missed a shot or two in that match, things could have swung either way. I just think we're so close right now.''
She's being too kind. Serena won their three meetings this year, including the French Open title, and is No. 1 in the rankings. Curiously, Venus doesn't think much has changed. "I still feel that I am in a dominant position,'' she said. "But it's impossible to win every match. That's what I'm here for, to be on top. I'm not trying to linger around No. 2.''
Yet she also concedes it's "going to be very difficult'' to beat Serena if she stays at this level. That's not good news for Tour critics like Jennifer Capriati, who has ripped the Williamses for manipulating head-to-head results but looks bad when she can't keep up with them. Or Amelie Mauresmo, who said it's "very sad'' to see so many Serena-Venus finals--"I can't tell you how many people who said to me, 'I don't want to see the Williamses play again,''' she said--but can't keep up with them. Or Justine Henin, who said their dominance isn't good for the game but also can't keep up with them. Or, for that matter, the ubiquitous John McEnroe, who sounded like a modern-day, book-selling Bobby Riggs when he said the Williamses wouldn't be ranked higher than "the 200s'' on the men's tour.
Before Saturday, I might have preferred to watch Serena or Venus play McEnroe than each other. But now, I can't wait for the U.S. Open. Know how we mope about Tiger Woods' lack of serious rivals? Be happy that Serena has Venus, Venus has Serena. And in what could be a best-of-21 Sister Slam, Serena leads 2-1.
Thank yu for all the great articles! Something to stand up and take notice about! They should be read again and again! I am soooo happy they have made it this far! When everyone said it wouldn't happen!
Keep proving your critics wrong, Venus and Serena!!!!:cool: :D :kiss:
Jul 8th, 2002, 04:19 AM
Thanks for the great readings all in one spot!
Jul 8th, 2002, 07:38 AM
Jul 8th, 2002, 07:11 PM
Really good articles...thank you for posting them!