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Tech1
Jul 3rd, 2008, 12:56 AM
WILLIAMS SISTERS CAN HAVE IT ALL


Bruce Jenkins (bjenkins@sfchronicle.com)
Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Richard Williams never envisioned such a thing. He saw his two daughters taking over the tennis world, causing a great sensation, then bailing out early to pursue more serious endeavors. He couldn't have imagined that Venus and Serena would have an even better idea: playing into eternity, outlasting everybody, and still being the most well-rounded people in tennis.

As the Wimbledon women's draw continues its collapse into anonymity - pretty much the Williams family and a bunch of strangers - let's dispense with all the critics claiming the sisters have "underachieved," that they sold themselves short in tennis, that their career statistics should have measured up to Steffi Graf, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Has it occurred to anyone that Venus and Serena were right all along?

It would be one thing if they were downcast about their place in history, wishing they'd attacked the tour like Pete Sampras or Jimmy Connors, setting a maniacal pace to win every tournament and make sure they claimed that year-end No. 1 ranking. If they had serious regrets about combining for "only" 14 major titles between them (Graf won 22 by herself), maybe the argument would make some sense.

There hasn't been the slightest hint of such misgivings. And by the way, as we join them this morning, they're on a dead-cinch collision course to play each other in Saturday's Wimbledon final.

Just one more match for each of them, and it's on. Venus had a slight problem with her left hamstring in Tuesday's quarterfinals but got past Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-4, 6-3 for the right to play (and undoubtedly crush) Elena Dementieva, a 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-3 victor over Nadia Petrova. Serena simply steamrolled Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-0, and now draws Zheng Jie, the first Chinese woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal and the first wild card to ever reach that stage at Wimbledon. Zheng's ferocious groundstrokes are no longer a mystery, as Nicole Vaidisova discovered in a 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 loss to the world's 133rd-ranked player.

The Williams sisters' story has become more remarkable than ever. How many times have we written off Venus as being too injury-prone, too distracted by her fashion interests, or generally too absent from the scene? How often did we dismiss Serena as irrevocably out of shape, or delusional about becoming a player in Hollywood? And yet here they are, absolutely ruling women's tennis in the most important tournament of the year, looking to keep it in the family for the seventh time in nine years.

Listen, Venus' fashion designs may never be confused with Versace or Armani. Serena, while hardly a disgrace in front of the camera, is no threat to the Oscar candidates. But that's missing the point. They're having the time of their lives. They are huge celebrities wherever they go. They do community work and travel the world, inspiring youth groups while speaking out on gender equality and other issues. Doesn't that stand up admirably against the burned-out Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and so many others worn down by the grind?

If you're among the significant number of fans who simply don't like the sisters, not even a little bit, this isn't intended to change your mind. It's just difficult to question or belittle individuals who live exactly on their own terms, with the added element of being African Americans in a decidedly white sport.

The biggest myth about the Williams sisters is that they're lazy, that they could have accomplished much more if they'd taken the game seriously. One look at Serena, who was frighteningly overweight two years ago, tells you she's put in some work. Her body type makes it clear she'll never look like Venus, but she refused to let herself go. As for Venus, says her longtime boyfriend, golfer Hank Kuehne, "There's no one that works harder, on or off the court. She's going to be around for a while and play at the top level for as long as she wants to. She could be out here like Roger Clemens."

If they had been coached properly, the supremely athletic Venus and Serena could possess the all-court game that made Sampras and John McEnroe such commanding figures. That doesn't seem to be much of an issue, however. Henin's elegant one-handed backhand was the last of its kind. Amelie Mauresmo, the only elegant serve-and-volley player at the top level, has apparently unshakable problems with injuries and motivation. It's a barren landscape open to the strongest baseline survivors - and for the moment, we're talking about an all-Williams affair.

Venus has taken to speaking of her longevity in the game, how she still loves tennis with a passion, and Serena feels exactly the same way. "I do everything that Venus does," she said the other day. "I've tried to grow out of that, but I still kind of do everything she does. She's going to be out here playing for a long, long time. So that goes for both of us."

Even the prophet, their own father, missed that call.

supergrunt
Jul 3rd, 2008, 01:18 AM
he didn't say anything that I didn't know, but it's nice to hear someone with a proffesional opinion say it

WF4EVER
Jul 3rd, 2008, 01:30 AM
I'm tired of people being presumptuous about how a match will turn out. As much as I would like Venus to win the SF I don't for a minute think she can do so easily. Elena can play tennis; she may have a wonky serve but hey, so does her opponent.

I wish reporters and fans would have a little more respect for the opponents; both players are going out there to win and guessing right doesn't make anyone a psychic.

BuTtErFrEnA
Jul 3rd, 2008, 02:13 AM
:speakles: where are all these knowitalls coming from

Mchstnate
Jul 3rd, 2008, 02:35 AM
Im happy for both of them honestly. When Maria got knocked out Ive been hopin Serena would win, and Venus being the

defending champion makes it cool. Theres no two tennis players that have more love for the game then them,

something I wish Maria had more of.

Diesel
Jul 3rd, 2008, 02:52 AM
I'm tired of people being presumptuous about how a match will turn out. As much as I would like Venus to win the SF I don't for a minute think she can do so easily. Elena can play tennis; she may have a wonky serve but hey, so does her opponent.

I wish reporters and fans would have a little more respect for the opponents; both players are going out there to win and guessing right doesn't make anyone a psychic.

True, true, true. Part of it though is that these are same people who moaned about all-Williams finals. Saying they were bored with them, wanted fresh blood. They're salivating at the chance of seeing an all-Williams final now.

Uranium
Jul 3rd, 2008, 02:53 AM
ugh, i hate long articles:lol::o

BuTtErFrEnA
Jul 3rd, 2008, 03:10 AM
True, true, true. Part of it though is that these are same people who moaned about all-Williams finals. Saying they were bored with them, wanted fresh blood. They're salivating at the chance of seeing an all-Williams final now.

too true...i remember it like it was yesterday...everyone was like :yawn: and now that their people have gone now it's like :drool:

BuTtErFrEnA
Jul 3rd, 2008, 03:11 AM
ugh, i hate long articles:lol::o

we have a club...would you like to join :lol:

Mrs. Peel
Jul 3rd, 2008, 03:17 AM
I wish they would stop it with these articles! They aren't in the finals yet....Thank goodness V&S don't read that stuff!

No Name Face
Jul 3rd, 2008, 03:24 AM
so now i'm hoping for the elena upset...

BuTtErFrEnA
Jul 3rd, 2008, 03:31 AM
so now i'm hoping for the elena upset...

you want venus to upset elena??? :speakles:

kiwifan
Jul 3rd, 2008, 04:29 AM
so now i'm hoping for the elena upset...

you want venus to upset elena??? :speakles:

:haha: I'm hoping 7th seed upsets 5th seed too. :angel: :devil: :angel: :devil: :angel:

DimaDinosaur
Jul 3rd, 2008, 04:37 AM
Venus and Serena had it right all along! Have the time of your life, pursuing other interests! NEVER be 1-dimensional, it really hurts you as an individual

Volcana
Jul 3rd, 2008, 04:50 AM
Listen, Venus' fashion designs may never be confused with Versace or Armani. Serena, while hardly a disgrace in front of the camera, is no threat to the Oscar candidates. But that's missing the point. They're having the time of their lives. They are huge celebrities wherever they go. They do community work and travel the world, inspiring youth groups while speaking out on gender equality and other issues. Doesn't that stand up admirably against the burned-out Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and so many others worn down by the grind?That paragraph speaks volumes.


When I was in my late twenties, I had the good fortune to be doing what I wanted, and still have enough money to eat in restaurants every night, and see Broadway plays from the orchestra seats whenever I wanted. For a while. It didnt last, and it cost me later, but I wouldn't trade that period of my life. Venus and Serena are getting to do exactly what they want in life. Not everyone gets that chance. Venus and Serena's path is not for everyone, but it works for them. Nice to see a writer actually get that.

No Name Face
Jul 3rd, 2008, 04:56 AM
you want venus to upset elena??? :speakles:

oh, veetards.

Infiniti2001
Jul 3rd, 2008, 05:34 AM
Any aol posters from the late 90s , early 2000's here? I remember those long ago arguments with the Hingis fans who would carry on about how the Williams sisters' ugly power game would ruin their bodies, while Hingi's finesse and delicacy would assure she was around forever :tape: