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Tech1
Aug 23rd, 2007, 06:40 AM
Venus, Serena reclaiming their dominance
By Henny Ray Abrams, AP

The Williams buzz is back, thanks to the power of two.

With victories in two of three Grand Slams this year, Venus and Serena Williams are reclaiming their dominance in the game they ruled from 2000-2003. Even rivals say women's tennis is better for it.

How's that for the power of two?

"Every day they are active and visible in tennis, the sport is stronger," tennis legend and women's rights pioneer Billie Jean King says. "They have the 'it' factor, and people want to see that and will always support it."

Venus and Serena have always generated attention. Who could not find something compelling in a tale of two African-American girls raised in gang-ridden Compton, Calif., by a father who somehow molded two of his children into world beaters?

"There's just this mystique of seeing them together," marvels U.S. Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison, who has known the sisters since they were kids. "Two great champions in one family wow."

With their outsize games clicking and their bodies holding up Serena won the Australian Open and Venus captured Wimbledon women's tennis can expect a dramatic plot twist when the U.S. Open, the year's final Grand Slam, begins Monday in New York.

"I think a lot of people started watching tennis because Serena and I were doing things that were so different on the court, and I still think we still do a lot of things that are amazing and different and athletic," says Venus, 27, who is 15 months older than Serena. "It definitely brings more viewers to tennis."

Says Serena, whose comeback from a severe calf strain in the fourth round of Wimbledon became an instant Williams classic: "It's like when Tiger Woods is playing and winning. It's great to see someone of a different background and culture be able to do well. I just think that that's the reason that everyone gets so excited."

Peers who have found themselves on the losing end of the sisters' vaunted power and sometimes ungracious words when they win agree the game gets a jolt for the better when the sisters compete.

"They push us to lift our games," says Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli, who adds that they "bring a lot of interest from outside" the sport.

"It just brings a little spice to tennis," eighth-ranked Nadia Petrova of Russia says.

Sisters' impact widespread

The power of two can be seen in the numbers and beyond.

CBS' four highest-rated U.S. Open women's finals during the last decade all involved Venus and Serena (1999-2002). The first prime-time final, in 2001, when Venus topped Serena, was the highest rated since 1985 and the fourth highest in three decades.

Between ESPN and ESPN2 in the last five years, at least one of the sisters has been in seven of the eight most-watched tennis telecasts.

Their appeal goes beyond TV. At bars and cafes the country over, sports fans who know little of tennis carry an awareness of what's happening with them.

They also have made an impact on minority participation. According the USTA, a third of all new players at the grass-roots level are African-American or Hispanic.

"I can't help but think that Venus and Serena are drivers behind that," says Jane Brown Grimes, the USTA's chairman and president.

The sisters also have barnstormed cities without WTA events the last three years, raising $540,000 for charity and local community programs. Serena says room for progress remains. Venus contends their biggest contribution is simply showing up in the winner's circle.

"I definitely think more minorities can play tennis," Serena says. "We've come a long way, but obviously there is still space to go. It takes time. It takes people like Althea (Gibson) and Zina and Venus and myself to keep it out there and to keep fighting and playing."

"The best way definitely is winning Slams," Venus says. "That motivates all kinds of people to pick up a racket."

Both sisters are thrilled about the U.S. Open's opening night ceremony commemorating the legacy of black tennis trailblazer Althea Gibson, who became the first African-American, male or female, to win the U.S. National Championships (now the U.S. Open) 50 years ago. Among the attendees will be Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Aretha Franklin and Carol Moseley Braun.

Limited tennis schedules

Many fans and tournament directors only wish they could see more of the sisters.

They have averaged fewer events than their peers overall. Serena averaged 10.6 events from 2002-2006 and has played seven this year; Venus averaged 14.6 events from 2002-2006 and has played nine this year. From 2003-2006, No. 2 Maria Sharapova of Russia averaged 16.3 events. No. 1 Justine Henin of Belgium averaged 14.4 events from 2002-2006, and she has played 10 this year.

In recent summers when the tour swings through North America, the sisters have been absent. Since 2003, each has averaged about one tournament during the six weeks between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. That is considerably less than similarly ranked players such as Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and the recently retired Kim Clijsters. Henin, too, has played just once since Wimbledon.

"I think I'm playing enough," contends Venus, who played in the Fed Cup and in a tournament in San Diego before pulling out of Toronto with tendinitis in her right knee. "I definitely want to help women's tennis and help tennis in general. At the same time, I want to look out for my own well-being, too."

Serena, who pulled out of three events, says the limited schedule has kept her mentally fresh and helped her deal with personal struggles, such as the drive-by shooting death of half-sister Yetunde Price in 2003.

When the sisters are not playing, the ongoing evolution of their distinct personalities has helped maintain public interest.

Florida-based Venus has taken a leadership position in the women's game, with steady boyfriend Hank Kuehne, a PGA Tour golfer, at her side. She has campaigned for equal prize money in tennis realized this year for the first time at all four majors and been a prime mover behind the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote gender equality in sport.

"Basically, I guess my position beyond a tennis player is evolving," says Venus, who carries herself with an almost stately air.

The more gregarious Serena has spent much of the past few years in and around Hollywood, attending events such as last month's ESPY Awards and pursuing her acting career with guest roles on TV shows such as ER and Law & Order. Serena also dabbles in fashion with her own nascent Aneres line and is dating actor Jackie Long.

Asked to compare herself to Venus, Serena says she is more "outgoing" and "L.A.-based."

According to Venus, the sisters remain best friends and are in many ways alike, though "Serena is definitely the younger sister She's the one we all spoiled. She definitely gets her way. She's also a lot of fun. I'm definitely like the older sister who tries to be more responsible and tries to take care of everything."

As if to highlight their differences, Venus recounts the discomfort she experienced while shooting a promo for UNESCO in San Diego a few weeks ago in which she had some lines.

"I'm not the actress, you know," she says.

Don't count them out

Fed Cup captain Garrison thinks the Williamses have helped push the envelope.

"Each generation has brought something new," says Garrison, who in 1990 became the first African-American since Gibson to reach the Wimbledon final. "Venus and Serena have allowed women of color to realize they can do anything they want to do. Althea opened the door. Venus and Serena knocked it down."

Will they knock down the door at the season's last Slam? Despite their early success at the Open three of the family's first five majors came in New York, including four in a row from 1999-2002 neither has advanced past the quarterfinals in the years since.

A number of match-ready contenders such as Henin and defending champ Sharapova won't make it easy. But perhaps more than any other players in history, Venus and Serena don't follow the rules. As they have shown, they can come out of nowhere to win.

"There's always doubters out there," Serena says, "but you know, my sister and I always believe in ourselves. We're always going to do what we like to do. And we're going to do it the way we like to do it."

Adds Venus: "Well, of course I'm going into New York to win. I'm not just going for a good appearance. That may have been acceptable maybe my first year, but I've always wanted to win."

DA FOREHAND
Aug 23rd, 2007, 01:55 PM
nice article thanks for posting

BuTtErFrEnA
Aug 23rd, 2007, 02:27 PM
thanks for posting :)

CoolDude7
Aug 23rd, 2007, 02:37 PM
thanks

marycarillosucks
Aug 23rd, 2007, 02:48 PM
good article but the headline is premature. The upcoming USO is must for one of the Williams sisters to win in order to stake any claim to dominance. Anything less than a USO title is going to be a disappointment.

Marcell
Aug 23rd, 2007, 02:58 PM
good article but the headline is premature. The upcoming USO is must for one of the Williams sisters to win in order to stake any claim to dominance. Anything less than a USO title is going to be a disappointment.


I agree that dominance is quite strong, but they don't have to win the US Open to prove anything. Winning two of the four grand slam is quite an accomplishment. I don't think anyone thought they would even be a factor in the slams this year considering how they started they year.

acetoace
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:08 PM
good article but the headline is premature. The upcoming USO is must for one of the Williams sisters to win in order to stake any claim to dominance. Anything less than a USO title is going to be a disappointment.

My sentiments exactly!

justine&coria
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:22 PM
I agree that dominance is quite strong, but they don't have to win the US Open to prove anything. Winning two of the four grand slam is quite an accomplishment. I don't think anyone thought they would even be a factor in the slams this year considering how they started they year.
Come on, why do you have to put the 2 Williamses together ? Because they're sisters ? Because saying "they've won 2 GS together" makes what they've achieved this year look impressive ?
You take 2 winners of a GS each year and you can tell the same thing.

Venus won Wimbledon, Serena won the AO, but no way they've been dominating the tour (together) !

GracefulVenus
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:27 PM
Nice article!

marycarillosucks
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:33 PM
I agree that dominance is quite strong, but they don't have to win the US Open to prove anything. Winning two of the four grand slam is quite an accomplishment. I don't think anyone thought they would even be a factor in the slams this year considering how they started they year.



1 Slam each for the Williams girls is a damn good year for the family, but it's not dominance. Three Slams for the family in a year, and i'd have to agree that "dominance" would be the appropriate word.

Ntour
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:37 PM
Come on, why do you have to put the 2 Williamses together ? Because they're sisters ? Because saying "they've won 2 GS together" makes what they've achieved this year look impressive ?
You take 2 winners of a GS each year and you can tell the same thing.

Venus won Wimbledon, Serena won the AO, but no way they've been dominating the tour (together) !

agreed.
they have no claim to domination this year at all one of them does if they win the us but say venus wins the usopen you can't say the sisters are dominating because really it would just be venus dominating

venus_rulez
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:39 PM
Nice article. Hope they do it big (especially you Venus :bounce:) in New York.

BuTtErFrEnA
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:48 PM
in the context of the article (which is speaking about them both and not just one sister)...2/3 GS in one year for is, as the article said "reclaiming" not "dominating"

simba
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:50 PM
nice article.

Donny
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:51 PM
Come on, why do you have to put the 2 Williamses together ? Because they're sisters ? Because saying "they've won 2 GS together" makes what they've achieved this year look impressive ?
You take 2 winners of a GS each year and you can tell the same thing.

Venus won Wimbledon, Serena won the AO, but no way they've been dominating the tour (together) !

For the same reasons the Belgian players were grouped together during their prime, for the same reasons the Russians were grouped together after winning 3 slams in 2004, for the same reason Jankovic and ivanovic are grouped together.

IMO, coming fro mthe same family is much more relevant than coming from the same nation.

CoolDude7
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:58 PM
For the same reasons the Belgian players were grouped together during their prime, for the same reasons the Russians were grouped together after winning 3 slams in 2004, for the same reason Jankovic and ivanovic are grouped together.

IMO, coming fro mthe same family is much more relevant than coming from the same nation.

That is a good poinT. Everyone is talking about which one will win their first slam, "The Joker, Anna, or Jelena"!

In 2004, there were many Russians in the top 10! People grouped them together, it was the "Russian Revolution"!

I think it is understandable how people can group two individuals who grew up in the same house/family, are sisters, played in so many finals, and have the best two active records on tour, together.

Volcana
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:00 PM
Limited tennis schedules

Many fans and tournament directors only wish they could see more of the sisters.

They have averaged fewer events than their peers overall. Serena averaged 10.6 events from 2002-2006 and has played seven this year; Venus averaged 14.6 events from 2002-2006 and has played nine this year. From 2003-2006, No. 2 Maria Sharapova of Russia averaged 16.3 events. No. 1 Justine Henin of Belgium averaged 14.4 events from 2002-2006, and she has played 10 this year.Justine Henin, according to these stats, actually plays slightly LESS than Venus. Yet Henin's absence is accepted as being necessary because of her health, but Venus' commitment to the sport is questioned.

BuTtErFrEnA
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:10 PM
Justine Henin, according to these stats, actually plays slightly LESS than Venus. Yet Henin's absence is accepted as being necessary because of her health, but Venus' commitment to the sport is questioned.

don't ask just live with it :wavey:

DA FOREHAND
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:14 PM
Justine Henin, according to these stats, actually plays slightly LESS than Venus. Yet Henin's absence is accepted as being necessary because of her health, but Venus' commitment to the sport is questioned.

I picked that up to good catch Volcano. With all the stats thrown around on this board to support this and that it's intersting nobody ever ran these numbers. :wavey:

Bijoux0021
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:32 PM
Sisters' impact widespread

The power of two can be seen in the numbers and beyond.

CBS' four highest-rated U.S. Open women's finals during the last decade all involved Venus and Serena (1999-2002). The first prime-time final, in 2001, when Venus topped Serena, was the highest rated since 1985 and the fourth highest in three decades.

Between ESPN and ESPN2 in the last five years, at least one of the sisters has been in seven of the eight most-watched tennis telecasts.

Their appeal goes beyond TV. At bars and cafes the country over, sports fans who know little of tennis carry an awareness of what's happening with them.

Notice in all the articles that are/were written regarding most-watched tennis telecasts, Sharapova's name was never mentioned, yet there is this deluded idea from some of her fans and a few commentators that she draws ratings. The fact is she doesn't even come close to making a dent in the ratings. Last year's U.S. Open final was one of the lowest ever in tennis history. Unless she is playing a Williams sister she doesn't draw viewers. Everytime CBS, NBC, TTC, USA Network, ESPN and ESPN2 have high TV ratings for tennis it's always because Venus or Serena or both were playing. The producers of these networks say so. They've always said that they hope for a Williams to make it to the finals, because they than anyone else know better. They know the sisters' appeal generates lots of money. The numbers don't lie.

justine&coria
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:40 PM
For the same reasons the Belgian players were grouped together during their prime, for the same reasons the Russians were grouped together after winning 3 slams in 2004, for the same reason Jankovic and ivanovic are grouped together.

IMO, coming fro mthe same family is much more relevant than coming from the same nation.
You missed my point : in 2002-2003, the Williamses dominated the tour (4 straight GS finals etc.), in 2003-2004, it was the Belgians, then the Russians went on winning lots of tournaments. There was a reason for them to be put together.
This year, putting Serena and Venus in the same group is like putting 2 GS winners together : nothing more, nothing less. When Serena won the AO, Venus didn't go far ; when Venus won Wimby, Serena didn't go far. And it's not like either of them is dominating the tour : Serena won 2 out of her 7 tournies, Venus 2 out of 9 (1 is a Tier III). They've won a GS, which is really great (especially Serena's run at the AO and in Miami too), but this year, so far, they're "just" GS winners, they're really not dominating/reclaiming their dominance.

Infiniti2001
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:47 PM
When Serena won the AO, Venus didn't go far ;

Venus did not play the AO :shrug:

tennisIlove09
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:51 PM
Awesome read. Thanks :D

AcesHigh
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:52 PM
You missed my point : in 2002-2003, the Williamses dominated the tour (4 straight GS finals etc.), in 2003-2004, it was the Belgians, then the Russians went on winning lots of tournaments. There was a reason for them to be put together.
This year, putting Serena and Venus in the same group is like putting 2 GS winners together : nothing more, nothing less. When Serena won the AO, Venus didn't go far ; when Venus won Wimby, Serena didn't go far. And it's not like either of them is dominating the tour : Serena won 2 out of her 7 tournies, Venus 2 out of 9 (1 is a Tier III). They've won a GS, which is really great (especially Serena's run at the AO and in Miami too), but this year, so far, they're "just" GS winners, they're really not dominating/reclaiming their dominance.

:confused: At AO, Serena dominated and at MIami, she did pretty much the same except for the hiccup in the final. At RG, she dind't play that well, but the rest of hte year has been hampered by injury. If anything, this year has shown that Serena is nearly unstoppable when fit.

Venus was in dominating form at Wimbledon and I can see your issue here, but I think there are different ways at looking at it. "Dominance" is probably a little too strong.

CoolDude7
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:54 PM
Venus did not play the AO :shrug:

I thought the same thing?:shrug:

tennisIlove09
Aug 23rd, 2007, 04:56 PM
Serena has won the Australian 3 times.
in 2003 (Venus reached the final)
in 2005 (Venus reached the fourth Rd)
in 2007 (Venus did not play)

justine&coria
Aug 23rd, 2007, 05:00 PM
Venus did not play the AO :shrug:
Oups, sorry. I thought she made it to the 4th round. Sorry again.

:confused: At AO, Serena dominated and at MIami, she did pretty much the same except for the hiccup in the final.
Yes, she dominated AO and Miami (the hiccup in the finals doesn't matter : she won the match !)
But as you've said, Serena's been injured, Venus recently lost to Chakvetdatze : how can someone realistically say they're reclaiming their dominance ? Let one of them win the US Open, then we can talk about that.

BuTtErFrEnA
Aug 23rd, 2007, 05:03 PM
You missed my point : in 2002-2003, the Williamses dominated the tour (4 straight GS finals etc.), in 2003-2004, it was the Belgians, then the Russians went on winning lots of tournaments. There was a reason for them to be put together.
This year, putting Serena and Venus in the same group is like putting 2 GS winners together : nothing more, nothing less. When Serena won the AO, Venus didn't go far ; when Venus won Wimby, Serena didn't go far. And it's not like either of them is dominating the tour : Serena won 2 out of her 7 tournies, Venus 2 out of 9 (1 is a Tier III). They've won a GS, which is really great (especially Serena's run at the AO and in Miami too), but this year, so far, they're "just" GS winners, they're really not dominating/reclaiming their dominance.

So JJ has had a more dominant year in your eyes? or maybe masha? or maybe kuzzy? or maybe ana....or maybe anna?

AcesHigh
Aug 23rd, 2007, 05:03 PM
Oups, sorry. I thought she made it to the 4th round. Sorry again.


Yes, she dominated AO and Miami (the hiccup in the finals doesn't matter : she won the match !)
But as you've said, Serena's been injured, Venus recently lost to Chakvetdatze : how can someone realistically say they're reclaiming their dominance ? Let one of them win the US Open, then we can talk about that.

I agree.. i expect this wording to come from a non-tennis fan or a casual one who doesn't pay much attention to the tour. It's hard to dominate from #8 and #13(or watever Venus's ranking is) in the world :tape:

BuTtErFrEnA
Aug 23rd, 2007, 05:07 PM
I agree.. i expect this wording to come from a non-tennis fan or a casual one who doesn't pay much attention to the tour. It's hard to dominate from #8 and #13(or watever Venus's ranking is) in the world :tape:

:tape: :tape:

darice
Aug 23rd, 2007, 05:12 PM
good article but the headline is premature. The upcoming USO is must for one of the Williams sisters to win in order to stake any claim to dominance. Anything less than a USO title is going to be a disappointment.

ita and i say this with rena being my fav player. let's wait until the open is over to be saying stuff like "reclaiming their dominance". you could apply that phrase to juju too if she wins the open. :shrug:

Serenidad.
Aug 23rd, 2007, 05:36 PM
Jankovic, Sharapova, etc can win all the Tier I and IIs they want. In the history books, Grand Slams matters. Look @ Davenport. She's won like 55 tournaments, but only 3 Grand Slams. Who cares if they aren't winning those tournaments. History only recognizes Grand Slams. Serena has realized that.

40-0
Aug 23rd, 2007, 06:27 PM
Venus, who played in the Fed Cup and in a tournament in San Diego before pulling out of Toronto with tendinitis in her right knee.

So that was the reason.