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View Full Version : Back at the top - but the Williams sisters are not back to their best


SVU
Jul 5th, 2008, 01:51 AM
By Ivan Speck Last updated at 10:06 PM on 04th July 2008

Conspiracy theories and Centre Court carve-ups may be the theme of today's all-Williams Wimbledon final, but in truth the match has other, more worrying, implications for women's tennis.

Sisters steamrolling their way to the final of a Grand Slam is not in itself a bad thing for the game.

After all, Venus and Serena completed the process begun by Steffi Graf in dragging women's tennis out of its cosy, frilly-knickered, pat-a-cake niceness into a dynamically physical era for which we should all be grateful.

When they fulfilled their father's prophecy that they would rise to numbers one and two in the world, the thumping quality of their play was an astonishing sight to behold.

When they slipped from their perch, women's tennis became poorer.

For all the wonderful storylines thrown up since their years of absolute dominance, the sad reality is that only Justine Henin truly bridged the gap to the level of play of which the sisters were once capable.

Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Myskina and even Maria Sharapova were all able to achieve their lifetime ambitions of winning a Grand Slam title because Venus and Serena had fallen off their plateau of greatness.

They were not hollow victories - far from it - but had they encountered the pre-2004 vintage Williams girls, those ambitions would remain unfulfilled.

Henin's genius was that she harnessed natural technique and tactical brilliance to a steely resolve that even Venus and Serena struggled to match.

And now the sisters are back together in a Grand Slam for the first time in five years.

Back on top, but not back on top of their game. A worrying truth underlines an assertion which is painful to write - this has been the poorest Wimbledon women' s singles tournament in years.

Henin's shock retirement this spring, Mauresmo's loss of form and injuries to Jelena Jankovic and Lindsay Davenport robbed the event of much of its intrigue, while Ana Ivanovic's understandable emotional fuzziness after winning her first Slam at the French Open less than a month ago explains her third round defeat to Jie Zheng.

At least world No 1 Ivanovic played a starring role in the match of the women's draw - a net-cord inspired comeback for the Serb in three pulsating sets against France's Natalie Dechy.

Sharapova did not have even that consolation, losing wildly to little-known fellow Russian Alla Kudryavtseva.

Consider that the average world ranking of their opponents this fortnight was 83 for Venus and 79 for Serena and you see they have barely been tested.

Neither of them has dropped a set, but only Serena's quarter-final defeat of Poland's Agnieska Radwanska took less than an hour.

A levelling-off, perhaps, yet unfortunately it is the sisters whose standards have slipped. What is needed is domination based on power and peak fitness.

That is not to criticise the Williams girls. Instead they should be lauded for their longevity.

At 28 and 26, respectively, the stars of Venus and Serena have burned brightly for much longer than most of us believed possible.

Elena Dementieva, beaten 6-1, 7-6 by Venus in the semi-final, said today's final would come down to a 'family decision', seeming to suggest the match might not be decided on merit.

And Amid the suspicion and apathy over today's outcome, the aesthetic numbness created by their tennis and in spite of interests outside the game - Serena's stalled acting career, Venus' interior design courses - they are still here.

The pay cheques they receive this afternoon will take their combined earnings from 12 years on the women's tour to 40m.

The crown will be the 15th Grand Slam title earned by the sisters. They have outlasted Henin, Clijsters and Martina Hingis.

Grand Slam champions, world No 1s, all of them younger than Venus and all now retired.

An ambivalent attitude - particularly from Serena - towards practice apart, there has never been a hint of discord within the Williams camp.

No rebellion towards pushy tennis parents, no branching out on their own, no unhappiness, just appreciation of their glorious lot in life.

Richard and Oracene Williams may have parted and divorced, but the family bond remains watertight.

It is the foundation block upon which every surge of enthusiasm and particularly this revival is built.

They still enter Grand Slams to win and their belief in themselves and each other has never wavered.

They warmed up yesterday by advancing to the women's doubles final, beating Dechy and Casey Dellacqua 6-3, 6-3.

Serena wore a precautionary strapping on her left thigh - more ammunition for those looking for evidence of collusion should Venus win today's final, of course. :tape:

Perhaps we should be grateful that we have an all-Williams final. After a fortnight of sterility, intrigue has supplied us with an entertaining diversion.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-1032000/Back--Williams-sisters-best.html


Gosh, what is it with these newspapers? Henin has been retired for 6 weeks now and journalists are still going on about her and the tour. There must be at least 5 articles a day about her not playing.

Shows how much of a weak era it is now that Henin has retired. All the journalists/commentators are saying it. :help:

debopero
Jul 5th, 2008, 02:27 AM
why is it that when Venus and Serena lose in the third rounds, the tour is fine. But when Ivanovic and Sharapova go out, and the Williams are in the final, the tour is suffering?

debopero
Jul 5th, 2008, 02:37 AM
And by the way it was not as if Henin was the most dominate player to ever play the game. She had one good year :shrug: .

Uranium
Jul 5th, 2008, 03:05 AM
And by the way it was not as if Henin was the most dominate player to ever play the game. She had one good year :shrug: .

stupid comment

debopero
Jul 5th, 2008, 03:08 AM
stupid comment

How?

Uranium
Jul 5th, 2008, 03:09 AM
How?

to say a 7-time grand slam champ only had one good year is just so stupid,sorry.

debopero
Jul 5th, 2008, 03:12 AM
to say a 7-time grand slam champ only had one good year is just so stupid,sorry.

I did not mean to put it that way. I meant to say "she dominated for one year."

gmokb
Jul 5th, 2008, 04:48 AM
I myself am wonmdering if some of these sports reports know what they are talking about. However, it doesn't surprise me, they always find away to put down the WS, even when they were at the top of their game. At that time they were not good for tennis, always winning, meeting in finals etc. Now after FIVE long years they are meeting in a final again and its back, weakest tournament, but all I can say to them is make sure their idols can defeat lowly ranked players and stop blaming WS for doing their job well. Also, if the final is that poor to them well turn off thier damn tvs or not go to the blinking game if they had tickets. So tired of their b.s.

ilovethewilliams
Jul 5th, 2008, 06:51 AM
I agree, henin only had 1 good year and that's all.

Matt01
Jul 5th, 2008, 11:59 AM
I did not mean to put it that way. I meant to say "she dominated for one year."


Well, in that case Serena had only one good year as well.


I agree, henin only had 1 good year and that's all.


2003, 2006 or 2007? Which is it? :lol:

Dodoboy.
Jul 5th, 2008, 12:13 PM
The US hardcourt season could be VERY exciting if Serena wins at London today!

She has Stanford (momentum = title) then another possible final showdown with her sister in Los Angeles.

Hopefully they play what they are listed for!

I am so excited! :)

bandabou
Jul 5th, 2008, 12:13 PM
Well, in that case Serena had only one good year as well.





2003, 2006 or 2007? Which is it? :lol:

So Henin's better than Serena?

Lindsayfan32
Jul 5th, 2008, 12:32 PM
why is it that when Venus and Serena lose in the third rounds, the tour is fine. But when Ivanovic and Sharapova go out, and the Williams are in the final, the tour is suffering?

I'm not a fan of the Williams sisters but the occasional all Williams final is good for the tour. So Ana and Maria lose early at a slam. Life goes on. The sisters aren't the force they once were but they are different players on grass especially Venus that coupled with the players that had a chance of challenging them went out early and you have all Williams final but who says it wouldn't have happened anyway. :)

chris whiteside
Jul 5th, 2008, 12:47 PM
I agree with the writer 100% and I don't take it as a criticism of the Sisters.

I wanted both Vee and Rena to make the final but take an objective look - they are the best two players at this year's event but definitely not playing to their pre-2004 form. Had they been able to sustain that (and there were many reasons why that didn't happen) that then many of the subsequent Slams would surely have gone their way.

serenus_2k8
Jul 5th, 2008, 12:50 PM
This article is dumb. It basically insults a lot of players while stating the obvious.

WS Final is great for the sport. Surely you cant argue that Safina v Ana is a better final?

PLP
Jul 5th, 2008, 02:13 PM
This article is spot on. It has been a very poor tournament for the women, and not because the sisters made the final. The tournament just sucked, overall, the quality of play that is. This final is the only thing that saved it IMO. Go Venus!!!

harloo
Jul 5th, 2008, 04:14 PM
I hate to say this but I think women's tennis in general has sucked this year starting with the AO, then the FO, and even though my girls made the final the matches at Wimbledon on the women's side were horrible also.

I just don't like the fact that writers in general want to notice the poor quality of the slams when the sisters meet in the final. The AO was the worst this year in ages, and the FO was mediocre at best. But that's the double standard that gets on my nerves with the writers in regards to the sisters.

pov
Jul 5th, 2008, 04:23 PM
A good, well-balanced article. I haven't read through the posts to this thread but, based on what usually happens on this forum, I'm sure there must be those who find things in the article to complain about and take offense to.

Wilson_07
Jul 5th, 2008, 05:19 PM
i don't like the fact that this article sounds as if it's the sisters' fault that women's tennis is in a slump. if they think so,ok...but in which kinda way are the WS guilty for that? and it's just the way sport goes. some people dominate their sport for a certain time and someday other ones will come out on top and start to dominate. that's just the way it is...some dominate longer, some don't :shrug: