View Full Version : Let's see the real Venus

Sep 11th, 2002, 11:36 PM

Let's see the real Venus

By Karen Crouse, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 10, 2002

NEW YORK -- The budding movie starlet can cry on command. It's all in an hour's acting lesson for Serena Williams, who said "you'd be surprised" by how easily she can summon tears.

No we wouldn't. The younger of tennis' Sister Sledgehammers wears her heart like a silk handkerchief on the chest pocket of a natty Hermes suit. She emotes, therefore she is.

A taller order for Serena's Hollywood acting coach would be to dredge up older sister Venus' innermost feelings. The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but Venus always has the shades drawn. Her face is unreadable.

After her 6-4, 6-3 loss to Serena in Saturday night's U.S. Open final, Venus didn't look as disappointed as, say, Andre Agassi would a day later after succumbing in four sets to Pete Sampras.

Venus had the kind of year that only Ernie Els could love, matching the golfer's three runner-up finishes in a major from 2000. If not for a few second serves here and a little animosity there, it easily could be Venus, and not Serena, going for the career Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January.

The fierce competitor had every reason to be downcast. Serena's surge this year has left even Venus in her wake. Yet after the match Venus seemed not upbeat but not beat up, either. "I wouldn't show my emotions anyway," Venus said. "I try not to."

And then, "I mean, should I come in here crying?"

Sure. Why not? If she can't break down in a room full of strangers, where is Venus going to let her frustrations spill out? She has to be cheerful in her own house, so as not to rain on Serena's parade.

She has to be cheerful on the practice court, so as not to give her sister any more of a psychological edge than she already possesses.

Venus has had to spend so much time this summer pretending that she's fine with her sister taking away her Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles and supplanting her at No. 1, it's no wonder that she's exhausted despite playing a relatively light schedule of 14 events.

Pretending is hard work.

Venus dropped her well-meaning masquerade, if only for a moment, on Saturday night. She stepped out of character, revealing herself to be human, after all, when somebody asked her if she could put in perspective the play the previous two weeks of Serena, who didn't drop a set on her way to winning her second U.S. Open and her fourth Grand Slam.

"I played here last year and didn't drop a set, either," Venus pointedly reminded the assembly, "so I guess I know what it's like to be playing so well or at least better than everyone else."

That was more like it.

Don't misunderstand; it's wonderful that the Williamses have been able to mix love with lobs over each other's heads; devotion to each other with dink shots; sisterhood with service winners. They have defused an emotionally charged situation better than any sister could imagine.

We can see they love each other. But if their rivalry is going to become as powerful as their rapport, Venus is going to have to learn to loath Serena for however much time they spend on the court.

It's not going to be easy, but maybe Venus can pick up a few pointers from Serena, who has decided she really, really likes being No. 1, even if it's at her big sister's expense.

"I'm tired of losing," said Serena, who turns 21 this month. "I'm getting older. Soon it's not going to be my turn anymore. So while it is my turn, I have to take it for all it's worth and enjoy it. It's not going to last forever. Maybe I'm realizing that."

Meanwhile, Venus also was reflecting on the transience of tennis, only from a much different angle. She spoke longingly of enjoying a "normal life," which raised white flags of surrender.

The effort required to win Slams, after all, is hardly normal.

Is Venus too worn out from staving off her sister's challenge all these years to now catch her? Serena, who knows her better than anybody else, doesn't believe so.

"I don't think she's worn out at all," she said. "I think it's a challenge. I have a challenge to stay ahead and she has the challenge to catch up and pass me."

Venus knows what she has to do. "I'm just going to have to go out there," she said, "and get much more interested in getting more balls in play."

If she can work up a good lather over her sister while she's at it, so much the better.

Sep 12th, 2002, 07:09 AM
Nice read and since VENUS & SERENA are dead even in GS titles and head to head records, It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Williams Rulez
Sep 12th, 2002, 09:40 AM
Sigh, I feel like Venus now... not knowing if I should express my real emotions or just bury it.

Sep 12th, 2002, 02:10 PM
Serena's in a zone at the moment. I don't see anyone beating her any time soon!

Sep 12th, 2002, 04:13 PM
I think it's great that Venus doesn't participate in the infantile media melodrama of "expressing her emotions in public" (by which the the shallow gossip obsessed press means either crying like a two-year old or throwing a temper tantrum). Thank God not everyone's "true emotions" is cannon fodder for the tabloids (big and small). There's been far too much of that over the past two decades in American culture. I very much prefer the calm, stoic dignity and intelligent grace that Venus displays in victory or defeat instead of the over-the-top manipulative "emotional" displays that far too many public figures currently indulge in, and are brazenly encouraged to by the Oprahs, Geraldos, and Barbara Waters, etc. of this world. All this endless frothing at the mouth that many journalists are engaging in when talking about or commenting on the 'rivalry' of Venus and Serena (allegedly on Venus's behalf) is a pathetic joke (and very revealing of the subconscious psychological motives of these so-called pundits). Venus doesn't need to "loathe" her sister to compete with and/or beat her. She merely has to remain her beautifully independent and confident self and not surrender to the cackling, ignorant desires of those who want to see a dumb soap opera as well as world class tennis when Venus and Serena play. Thankfully Venus's innate sense of her own self-worth, genuine love of Serena, and her regal personality puts her far beyond such foolishness. If the media and many so-called fans want to see a "good lather" perhaps they need to take a bath.

Sep 13th, 2002, 07:42 PM
Well said Informative, vey well said! It seems the media loves making fun of celebrities who can't help but spill their emotional guts out in public, and then turn around and criticze those people who have the dignity not to do so. I for one don't see the entertainment value in seeing someone cry during an interview with Barbara Walters. I never had to work up a hatred for an opponent to perform well- frankly those times where I did take a personal dislike to an opponent, it didn't help but it was a distraction. (ask Jenny Capriati about that).

This writer is not interested in what works for Venus Williams, he's only interested in what makes his job easier.

Sep 13th, 2002, 08:14 PM
Well said Informative