Williams’ sisters battle it out at Wimbledon…again
Venus Williams is just about the perfect older sibling: She supports Serena endlessly, protects her fiercely, and even lets her little sister pick which bedroom she wants when they're on the road.
(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
CHRIS LEHOURITES,AP Sports Writer
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Venus Williams is just about the perfect older sibling: She supports Serena endlessly, protects her fiercely, and even lets her little sister pick which bedroom she wants when they’re on the road.
Venus draws the line at Grand Slam championships.
The American sisters will come up against each once again in a major final, playing each other Saturday in the Wimbledon title match for the fourth time.
“I’m happy for her to be in the final, but I have to face her and defeat her,” Venus said after reaching her eighth final at the All England Club by routing top-ranked Dinara Safina 6-1, 6-0. “I don’t necessarily want her to lose, but for sure I want me to win.”
Venus should have the edge on the new Centre Court, which has a retractable roof over it for the first time in history. Besides having won five Wimbledon titles, Venus also beat Serena in last year’s final and is trying to become the first woman to win three straight championships since Steffi Graf from 1991-93.
“Even if she’s not playing her best, just that fight she has, you’re facing that,” Venus said. “So there’s so much to face when you play her. It’s definitely a lot to get your mind around.”
Serena showed her fight Friday, saving a match point against Elena Dementieva before winning 6-7 (4), 7-5, 8-6. The match, longer than any Wimbledon women’s semifinal in at least 40 years, was one of the most exciting of this year’s tournament.
But if that was tough, wait until Serena faces an opponent that has won 20 consecutive matches on Wimbledon’s manicured lawns, the last 17 in straight sets.
“You know, it’s not the easiest opponent on grass,” Serena said. “I hope I win. Obviously, if I do, I’ll be really, really excited. So we’ll see.”
Off the court, the sisters often share an apartment when they come to Wimbledon, and sibling rivalry doesn’t really come into play when it comes time to choosing who gets the better room.
“I always defer. She picks first,” said Venus, noting that back home in Florida their rooms are the same size. “It makes me happy. You know, I want her to pick.”
On the court, things get more intense when they’re on opposite sides of the net.
“I feel very calm actually,” said Venus, who is 2-5 against Serena in Grand Slam finals. “But, of course, I’m going to bring the tough feet to the court.”
Even though Serena beat Venus in the 2002 and ‘03 Wimbledon finals, she already feels like the underdog against a player trying to win her sixth Venus Rosewater Dish.
“I feel like going into this final I have nothing to lose,” said Serena, who is 27 years old, two years younger than Venus. “I feel like obviously she’s playing the best tennis at this tournament.”
The match will pit two players with two of the best serves on tour, and both had them working pretty well in the semifinals. Venus holds the tour record for fastest serve at 208 kph (129 mph), though she had only five aces against Safina. Serena, however, smacked a tournament-high 20 aces against Dementieva.
“I definitely owe this win to my serve,” Serena said of her win over the fourth-seeded Russian. “I lost serve a couple times, but when it was key and it was time for me to hold serve, I was able to hold serve.”
Against each other, there are no secrets. The sisters have been coached by their father, Richard, and mother, Oracene Price, since the beginning, and they know each other’s strengths inside and out.
“We both play such a similar game. I mean, we had the same teacher,” Venus said. “But what I can tell you the same is the respect that we have for each other on and off the court is the same.”
Serena, with 10 major titles has three more than her sister, is looking for another victory at the All England Club.
“I’m just happy to have gotten this far,” Serena said. “You know, hopefully I can do one more.”
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