NEW YORK (September 11, 1999 11:55 p.m. EDT http://www.sportserver.com) - World No. 1 Martina Hingis is quickly becoming aware that the Williams sisters plan to make her road to a sixth career Grand Slam trophy extremely difficult.
But the 18-year-old Hingis, the 1997 U.S. Open champion, is not intimidated by the challenge.
"There are many more years to come against the Williams," said Hingis after 17-year-old Serena Williams beat her 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) to capture her first career Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open.
"They're definitely a challenge right now. The four of us who played the semifinals (Hingis, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport) are definitely the best right now out there.
"We are the ones you have to beat."
Hingis is proud of the current state of women's tennis.
"The women's tennis, it's just been terrific tennis," Hingis said. "I think just all of us, we are pretty much at our limits right now.
"I don't think it can get any much better."
At this U.S. Open, Hingis departs with a 1-1 record against the sisters Williams after beating 19-year-old Venus 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in the semifinals before losing to her not so little sister.
In all of her career meetings with the siblings, Hingis holds an impressive 8-3 advantage over Venus, but is in a 3-3 dead heat with Serena.
Both the 5-foot-10 Serena and 6-foot-1 Venus are taller and more muscular than the dainty 5-foot-7 Hingis.
The increasing athleticism of her opponents has forced Hingis, who won her lone Grand Slam trophy in 1999 as the two-time defending Australian Open champion, to re-invent her game.
When she first arrived on the tour, Hingis used her steel-trap mind to out-think opponents on court. Now she is also paying attention to the physical demands of the game, having hired a fitness trainer to better prepare for duels with more powerful foes.
"Boy, she's a real fighter," said Serena, on what she learned from her U.S. Open final tilt with Hingis. "She never gives up. She's a great champion."
Hingis would be pleased to hear that Serena came to that conclusion since the Swiss citizen is expecting many return engagements.
"Hopefully, next time, I'm going to have a better chance," Hingis said. "We both are going to be more fit and more relaxed, fresh going into those matches.
"I'm definitely looking forward to next year's Grand Slams."
While Hingis pays homage to the Williams sisters' abilities, she does question some of the strategy they employ in regards to playing the tour.
"So far, the Williams are going to be able to play at the top level as they do now," Hingis said. "Serena didn't play as many tournaments. In a way, it's smart to not play that much, but you're not going to be No. 1 if you don't play that much.
"I guess they're always talking about being No. 1 and No. 2. They have to play more."
Ever cocky, even in defeat, Hingis made sure to note that "So far, I'm at the top. Hopefully, I can, you know, stay there."
[Moderator's Note: Also read "The Sisters vs. The World"
"Williams Sisters Still Served Ancient Racial Stereotypes"
September 7, 2001
Williams Sisters Combat Racism
By Dennis Childs <email@example.com>
This is to let all of you know about a historic event that
will be taking place tomorrow evening in New York City. For
the first time in the history of professional tennis two
Black people will be meeting in a grand slam final. There
are three levels (well probably more) of irony attached to
1) The event will take place on American soil between two
descendants of African slaves from Compton California.
2) It will be a match between Venus and Serena Williams --
3) The match will take place at a locale called "Arthur Ashe
memorial stadium" -- and for those of you who may not know,
Arthur Ashe was the first and only Black male to win a grand
slam final some 30 or so years ago. And, I'll say
parenthetically that he did so while receiving repeated
What is most revealing regarding CBS's coverage of both
semi-final matches today is that they refused to mention
that the import of the prospective "sister final" has to do
with more than the fact that the contestants are related --
that the miracle of their accomplishment underlines the
entire history of racial subjection, segregation, and social
division which constitutes the very fabric of "American"
All of you, i presume, are familiar with the manner in which
the Williams sisters, along with their father Richard, have
been demonized in the US media ever since their ascension up
the ranks of the tennis world. In one particular instance a
popular nation-wide radio personality -- Jim Rome --
referred to the sisters as "Predator 1 & Predator 2" citing
what he viewed as their unattractive personality on and off
the court; this comment is of course fraught with an
ensemble of racist ascriptions having to do with the
ostensible unattractiveness -- i.e. ALIEN -- phenotypical
and metaphysical aspects of blackness -- labels that have
reigned in Euro-American discourse for centuries.
The question that the media will refuse to ask is why is it
such a miracle that two Black sisters are meeting in a major
tennis final? Why are we so enthusiastic and yet so shocked?
For those of us familiar with how general social inequity
under a racist context has always seeped into the sociology
of sport, the answer is all-too clear. Tennis has always
been one of those global terrains that has been kept beyond
the horizon of racially and economically repressed peoples.
A recent headline in sports illustrated bespeaks the level
to which white paranoia regarding an imminent influx into
all major sports by Black people has translated into a
quarantining of select sports such as golf, tennis, hockey,
and most winter sports: the headline read, "What Ever
Happened to the White Athlete?"
This rhetorical question signals the fact that the white
racist imaginary does not even want to grant free access to
the one spectrum of social activity that Blacks have been
able to infiltrate. Historical figures such as Wilma
Rudolph, Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, and Arthur Ashe --
along with innumerable nameless others -- all literally put
their lives on the line so people such as the Williams
sisters and Tiger Woods could have the opportunity to excel.
However, certain sports such as golf and tennis have
maintained their aristocratic/slave class membership
requisites, a fact that has never been thrown into relief
more overtly than when it was found that the country club
where golf's "Master's" championship had maintained a "no
black member clause" in their books right up to Tiger's
first victory in that championship. The tour members'
echoing of the club's racist sentiments was revealed when a
long time golf pro, Fuzzy Zeller, was asked on camera what
he thought of Woods's resounding victory, to which he
commented: "I think its great, maybe next year they'll serve
fried chicken and watermelon."
A similar comment was recently made by one of the Williams'
sisters US Open semi-final foes -- Martina Hingis -- in
which the European woman was asked about the sisters' rise
to fame. To paraphrase, she responded by saying that it is
no accident that the sisters are doing so well, that as
Blacks they have had it "easy" because any time anything
goes wrong in their game they can blame it on racism. One
wonders how "easy" it would have been for Hingis to reach
the Williams sisters' level of accomplishment if she had
been raised in Compton and had to depend only on a family
member for coaching. Here we have a classic example of the
calculus of modern racist ideology whereby historically
repressed peoples are pathologized for calling attention to
their life circumstances.
Thus, for me, a long time tennis fan, it is almost too
fitting that Serena beat Hingis in such a one-sided fashion
today, and that Venus turned around and beat America's
tennis darling, Jennifer Capriatti, in straight sets. And,
the most karmic element of it all is that all Americans will
have to watch the US open final being played between two
descendants of slaves at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Its moments
like this that let us know that that far off horizon called
hope still exists. I hope everyone will watch and record,
and like me, count the number of times the media
personalities will mention -- or not mention -- anything
I've stated in this writing.
Dennis Childs is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of
English at the University of California at Berkeley.
Copyright (c) 2001 Dennis Childs. All Rights Reserved.
Jul 17th, 2002, 03:34 AM
SISTER ACT SIMPLY MAGNIFICENT
By Neal Collins
The critics will be split.
Half will argue that Serena Williams' 7-6, 6-3 win over big sister Venus was a sensational women's final.
The other half will feel Wimbledon was somehow cheated by this increasingly familiar family affair.
Just as Serena triumphed at the last Grand Slam final over Venus at the French Open, so she cruised home here, claiming her third major triumph and her first at the All England club.
Venus, attempting to make it three in a row and a fourth Grand Slam, simply had no answer to her smaller but more powerful sister.
Venus, at 6ft 1in, appeared to be doing all she could against her 5ft 10in sibling.
And, just as the broadsheet papers lauded Tim Henman for his brave defeat at the hands of Lleyton Hewitt on Friday, so the posh tennis writers will record an epic women's final which ebbed and flowed but was always headed Serena's way.
The tabloids won't like it.
Not one bit.
They gave Tiger Tim a right going over after his straight-sets defeat at the hands of the shaven-headed world No 1 Hewitt.
And they'll claim that this straight-sets, all-too-brief final was orchestrated by the eccentric Richard Williams, perhaps the most controversial tennis dad in a sport ruled by strange men and their stressed daughters.
Richard is different.
He set out to produce two daughters who would rule the tennis world, and - against all the odds – he has succeeded in his fantastic quest.
He coached the girls using videos and street knowledge, taking them to public courts in the tough Los Angeles district of Compton, where drive-by shootings interrupted the rallies.
With no real knowledge or qualifications, Mr Williams created two wonderful teenage tennis players.
Then he withdrew them from tournament play until their schooling had been completed.
Going in to this final, Serena listed her greatest achievement as "scoring an A in Geometry".
No doubt that has changed.
When daddy let his daughters loose on the tennis world after graduation, the world of women's tennis began to change.
First Steffi Graf and then Martina Hingis faded from the scene as the Sister Act became a habit.
They were too small, too precise.
Power and pace became the order of the day.
Then Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati, two of the biggest hitters ever seen in the women's game, tried to break the stranglehold.
Their success is growing steadily more limited.
Saturday saw the third all-Williams Grand Slam final in 10 months.
And it won't be the last.
Not by a long chalk.
The thing is, whenever they meet each other we are reminded of Richard's early ravings, when he suggested it was sometimes best if one daugher triumphed over the other rather than leaving these things in the hands of pure competition.
Amelie Mauresmo, dumped out in the semi-final by Venus, argued exactly that we could expect a fix while John Lloyd said simply: "Nobody can prove anything. But they haven't produced great tennis against each other so far."
Underlying all this bickering is a general recognition that Venus and Serena have taken the women's game to new heights.
Sadly they are not the kind of heights the marketing men dream of.
They want svelte young things like Anna Kournikova and Hingis patting the ball backwards and forwards over the net with a cute waggle of the bottom.
They don't want the Williams battling it out with big girls like Mauresmo and Davenport.
And that is what lies at the heart of this argument, just as it did when Martina Navratilova took over from Chris Evert.
Nobody can argue whether the Williams sisters deserve to be numbers one and two in the women's game.
Nobody can argue that it is difficult to play a brother or sister in serious competition.
But there will be no sympathy, no outpouring of affection for the Williams clan.
Even the fans appear ambivalent.
I guess it's hard to give your wholehearted backing to one sister or the other the way we are used to do with Bjorn Borg v John McEnroe or Pete Sampras v Andre Agassi, Martina Navratilova v Chris Evert or Graf v Monica Seles.
So you can expect the broadsheets to debate the validity of the all-Williams clashes and the red-top tabloids will find new, insulting things to say about the sisters, their dad and the fabulous hair of their mum.
But we had best not be too harsh on this family of Amazons.
Venus is 22, Serena is 20.
They may be with us for some time.
I think they're magnificent.
Do you agree? Send your views on the Williams sisters to:
Jul 17th, 2002, 03:42 AM
Gifts That Last A Lifetime
A few weeks ago I was forced to watch the Williams sisters' performance at the Wimbledon Championship Tennis Tournament. I use the word "forced" because tennis has never been one of my favorite sports, much less one of the things I relish watching on television. The reason I watched the program was to show my silent support and respect for these two wonderful athletes. I was made aware of the match more from the televised pre-commentary complete with snide remarks about these black sisters' background and their lack of formal training than from the spectacular performance each would be contributing to the historic match. It was irritating to me, as a spectator, to hear the constant referral to the Williams sisters' mother and father by their first names, as well as the constant reminder that these women had not played the junior tennis circuit. The media seemed to want to pit sister against sister instead of recognizing the gifts that these girls had received early in life.
What gifts you might ask? There are some things that, if we are fortunate to learn early in life, represent the deepest type of love a parent or caretaker can give to a child. One of those is the recognition of self-esteem. Once this notion is implanted in the young mind, it is difficult to remove. Despite the possibility of winning or losing, the person with self-esteem will persevere and not shrink away from the unknown. Our children will grow up to be much more responsible adults when they learn that it is within their power to accomplish great things. Inner strength can renew itself even when the first attempts result in failure.
The Williams sisters exemplified this notion when they faced each other on the court a few weeks ago. Imagine if you had watched their performance with your children then turned to them afterward and explained the difficulty those women had faced. You could have finished your discussion with the promise to your children that they too could accomplish a similar feat with the right inspiration, support, and self-esteem. You could have used the opportunity to ask your child what his/her dream is and what they think they need to succeed. If you missed that tennis match, go ahead and have the same type of conversation with your child. There is no time like the present.
The second gift I appreciated the Williams family for displaying was that when all is said and done, it is family that is there for you. It seemed to me that the media did all that it could to drive a wedge between the two sisters and undermine the concentration of both as they prepared for the match. Venus Williams got a standing ovation from me when she replied, "No matter what happens on the court, Serina will still be my sister and I love her." I was proud to know that the parents of these two young women had instilled such a strong background of love in their children. When all is said and done and the crowd goes away, those who love you for who you are will still be cheering you on. What better armor could you protect your loved ones with than that. This not only gives them a source of renewed strength but also helps them to differentiate between false friends and real love.
To give these gifts takes no amount of money. Maybe the sacrifice of time will be our long-term investment, but look what you will receive in the long run. Isn't that what we have children for? To help them go a little further than we did. To know that whatever happens they will stick together in good and bad times; that they will be strong enough to weather any storm that comes along; to realize that when the stuff hits the fan, they can look inward to renew their strength and bounce back in time. Looking back, I can clearly see where my loved ones did just the same for me.
Jul 17th, 2002, 03:45 AM
First Steffi Graf and then Martina Hingis faded from the scene as the Sister Act became a habit.
They were too small, too precise.
Power and pace became the order of the day.
Okay I understand the Hingis part, but Steffi is 5'9 and built for both power and speed. Along with Monica she ushered in the power age. The rise of Venus and Serena had nothing to do with Steffi fading from the scene. She simply quit, and well before V+S rose to the very top. Also fading implies a gradual descent. Winning a 6th French Open and making a 9th Wimbledon final and quitting a few weeks later is abrupt. No fading needed.
Eeeck, I sound angry, but I don't like when ignorant writers diss Miss Steffi!!!
Jul 17th, 2002, 05:13 AM
The first article (oldie but goodies) is like the handwriting on the wall. It's there to be read for those who wish to read it. The second article is "da bomb". Thanks Cybelle...