I’m thrilled for Saturday’s Williams v. Williams final! It’s been five years since they’ve met up in a final, so I’ve forgotten how these sister on sister matches usually go. Rumor has it that they don’t live up to expectations, but I think this time will be different. Why? Here’s my take on the match up and what we have to look forward to:
1. An intriguing second act. Venus and Serena last played against one another in the finals of Wimbledon, 2003. That September, their sister, Yetunde Price, was murdered in Compton. People are just starting to realize how much this tragedy affected their games in the following years. Since then, they’ve also endured injuries and surgeries, the lingering effects of their parents’ divorce (Richard and Oracene spilt in 2002), acting, interior design and other off-court “distractions”, and a public scolding from Chis Evert. The sisters made their triumphal returns last year, both winning a Major and pledging renewed dedication and passion for their games. They’re older and wiser – not taking their talent for granted and hungry to win while they still can.
2. Current form and recent history. Serena’s playing well this season, with three titles (Bangalore, Miami, Charleston). Yes, she’s struggled in the Majors so far, but we’ve seen little during this tournament to doubt her current form. She’s fit and confident. Venus has struggled much more, but as she proved last year, she overachieves on grass.
3. A battle of equals. Their opponents throughout the tournament have been middleweights, flailing and helpless against their power. The semi-final was comical, with Venus serving consistently in the 120 mph range against Dementieva, who was lucky to spin one in at 100 mph. (All respect to Zheng Jie, though, who fought hard against Serena but still lost in straights.) Finally, we have the heavyweight prizefight we’ve been waiting for. Ding! Ding!
4. Serving contest! Who’s going to hit the bigger serve tomorrow? Will Venus break her all time speed record of 128 mph? With Serena on the other side of the net, I think she will.
5. Sisterly love. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but I’m deeply touched by the Williams sisters’ close relationship. They’ve overcome so much and reached such great heights together, while showing only respect and support for one another. I can’t wait to see them embrace after match point, with smiles and tears on their faces. And they still have a chance to win the doubles together, too!
6. Revenge on the haters. The Williams sisters have put up with a lot of crap from reporters, the public and fellow pros (not to mention their trash-talking father!) Today, a reporter asked Venus if she and Serena pre-determined the outcome of their matches. (Dementieva said in her post-match presser that she thought the outcome of the final would be a “family decision,” but later issued an apologetic statement saying she meant to say “family situation.”) Regardless of how the topic came up, here was Venus’s measured, indignant response:
Well, the main thing is that I find the question pretty offensive because I’m extremely professional in everything that I do on and off the court. I contribute my best in my sport, and I also have a ton of respect for myself and my family. So any mention of that is extremely disrespectful for who I am, what I stand for, and my family. That’s pretty much how I feel about the whole subject.
Hell, yes! Venus and Serena will smack these doubters away like a Dementieva second serve.
7. An all American final during a holiday weekend. Enjoy it while you still can.