venus and Serena Williams They were born 15 months later into one of the most absurd – albeit successful – sports dreams ever.
Their father, Richard, had seen the women’s singles final at the 1978 French Open and had heard that the winner, Virginia Rusici, took home $40,000 in prize money. Richard noted that this was more than he had achieved in an entire year.
Richard soon told his wife, Orasin, that they needed two daughters. He wanted to raise them in a strict and isolated way while training them to become the tennis champions who could make the family rich.
That was clearly silly.
How do you know if they are athletic enough, mentally strong or competitive enough to reach the elite elite? How do you know if they like tennis? Besides, Richard wasn’t even a coach (he would read instructional books and watch videos) and the family was definitely working class in a sport that favored the wealthy.
Just because he succeeded doesn’t mean he wasn’t crazy.
So maybe it makes sense that, after crossing that crucible, Venus and Serena would turn world-class into something else, too.
There’s no doubting the tennis greatness of both Venus, 42, and Serena, 40. Somehow Richard’s grand plan worked. Venus has won seven major championships. Serena 23.
There is no doubt about the brotherhood between them.
“Best friends,” said Venus.
Their partnership, in terms of competitive tennis, is over. They lost to Linda Noskova and Lucy Hradika 7-6, 6-4 in the opening doubles round of the US Open on Thursday.
Serena says she’s retiring and Venus may not be far behind.
They haven’t played together in a major tournament since 2018 and have done so mostly out of nostalgia. They definitely fought back, especially in the first set, but Venus in particular could no longer compete at that level.
Seeing them there – Williams Sisters against the world – was a happiest moment nonetheless. Not just playing, but smiling, laughing and encouraging. A pair of Compton kids pump up their fists and pull 23,000 to Main Court in New York — the first game of the opening double round. As a doubles team, they won 14 majors and three Olympic gold medals. On this night, they were no match for an unranked team of 20 people. Did not matter.
As far as the focus was on playing Serena in singles – It’s in the third round on Fridaywhile Venus lost early – this call was perhaps the most favorable curtain, besides her sister.
Start together. We finish together.
Along the way they changed sports, inspired life, and yes, got rich and famous just as Richard planned. They did it steadily. If there are rivalries, they are hidden. If jealousy is kept a secret. The mutual support has been inspiring.
There were plenty of reasons why this didn’t happen.
The two were, as Richard planned, brought up in a strict and isolated family, and had undergone relentless training in pursuit of unfair expectations, yet remained close even in the freedom of adulthood.
Venus was the early star that received the most attention within and beyond the family. Serena was the “little sister” even though she rarely felt intimidated by it.
That scenario was reversed when Serena was the first to win a major, winning the 1999 US Open at the age of 17. It came just two years after Venus lost in the finals, yet Venus was, apparently, immune to jealousy, which she may have been. Cheer loudest that day.
Venus was going ahead and winning her first major in 2000, extending her dominance as she became the world’s number one seed. Serena accepted it, even though it included a 2001 loss to Venus in the US Open final. Now Serena is playing the biggest fan.
Venus won her first three matches against each other as a pro, then Serena had the upper hand. Both were facts that could cause tension. The two would meet nine times in the Grand Slam finals, and Serena has won seven of them. If not for her little sister, Venus might have doubled her prime number to 14. Had it not been for Venus, Serena might have had 25, thus surpassing Margaret Court’s record.
When one or the other often struggled in head-to-head matches, fans and the media often wondered if they were throwing matches – in Richard’s direction. It was the criticism that bothered them the most and could have heightened the tension.
However… it didn’t.
“My first job is to be the big sister,” Venus said after defeating Serena in the 2008 Wimbledon final. “And I take that very seriously.”
Consider the 2002 French Open, when Serena defeated Venus in the final, only for Venus to quickly snap the camera and join a gathering of photojournalists to snap shots of her sister holding the championship trophy.
The bond is as unique as it is strong.
As a child, Serena was so obsessed with flower that she would copy everything about it. Same favorite colour. Same favorite animal. Whenever the family ate outside, they ordered what Venus ordered. Eventually her parents tried to make Serena think for herself and choose first.
“But then [Venus would] Serena said.
However, it bounced back in a form of protection. Venus was always watching Serena. Nobody messes with her little sister. One day at school, Serena forgot her lunch money. Venus branched out on hers.
“Go and eat,” said Venus.
Together they roam the often unforgiving world of professional tennis. In difficult times, they used each other as impenetrable shields. In times of fun, they playfully turned everything into a game, Partners in Crime.
At one point, they were eager to talk and learn from other great players, but were too afraid to approach them. So they created their own “Tennis Monthly Recap” newsletter which they used to record “interviews” with older players, for example, Pete Sampras on how to maintain a competitive advantage.
Whatever it was, they were together. setbacks. injuries. losses. victories. differences. relations. Health concerns for both of them. The death of an older sister. Their parents break up.
Whatever it was, Venus had Serena’s back and Serena has Venus.
The good times, the bad times, and the good times again.
And so they were here, for the last time, together on the field. They haven’t played together in years, but Serena called Venus and told her they were entering this double draw at the US Open.
“She’s the boss,” said Venus, laughing. “So I do whatever you ask me to do.”
If she is about to retire, she needs her best friend, sister, universal conqueror by her side. Richard Williams has certainly raised two tennis icons, who are also world-class siblings.