Venus Williams. She’s back.
If you’re only a casual observer of tennis, you may not have known that she was gone. You may not have known that Venus isn’t a little kid anymore. She’s 36, and It’s been 22 Years since a woman of her age has made it to the semis of the most revered tennis tournament in the world. Not since the venerable Martina Navratilova, who didn’t win that year.
You may not have known that Venus dropped out of the world’s top 100 players back in 2011 when she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, which is a type of immune disorder with symptoms that can include prolonged fatigue. Not a great thing for a professional athlete.
You might think, “All I’ve heard about in women’s tennis for the last two decades is Venus and Serena.”
So it’s not that interesting. Right?
But think about that: These two have been on top for nineteen years. First with a delightful and vibrant Venus paving the way and then Serena — a dominant masher unlike anything we’ve ever seen in women’s tennis — came through to sit atop the Iron Throne of tennis for good.
They were both so, so good. But it would be hard to suggest that Serena hadn’t been better. They have faced off 27 times over the years and Serena holds a 16-11 lead.
Venus holds 49 singles titles. Serena has 69.
They’re the only two women in the open era to face off against each other in four consecutive Grand Slam finals.
Venus was ranked world #1 for 11 weeks. Serena was ranked #1 for 200 weeks.
And together, playing not as competitors, but as teammates, they’ve won 21 doubles titles, including 13 Grand Slam doubles titles.
If you don’t know tennis, those may just be empty numbers. Okay, so how about this: Serena Williams has been the most dominant champion in tennis history, comparable to the likes of Muhammad Ali in boxing. And the Williams sisters, as a twosome are possibly the greatest story and greatest champions in the entire history of American sports. In any sport.
That’s what we’re talking about here. That’s the level of sheer, mindblowing domination.
We’ve seen some amazing things in sport, but I don’t know it we’ve ever witnessed the kind of astounding skill, sportsmanship, competitiveness, character and longevity of Venus and Serena Williams. They are goddesses. They are icons. As a tennis fan, I just watch them with an open mouth and shake my head. How are they still this good? How are they beating girls half their age? How how how?
They’re great ambassadors and great athletes. And beginning tomorrow morning (Thursday) they seek to meet up for one more match on famed Centre Court. They each have one semifinal match to win before they get to face off in the final, but it’s looking promising. Venus has the tougher match, against fourth seed Angelique Kerber, who has shown that she has the game to knock off Serena before, so Venus will have to bring her A game. But that matchup in the finals is there, beckoning to us.
They aren’t the little girls they were when they first stepped foot onto the hallowed grass of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, but they’re playing like it. If you only watch a little tennis this year, make sure to set your DVR for the women’s championship this Saturday on ESPN.
You might see something amazing.
And no matter what you do, watch 7 Days in Hell on HBO. Because it’s the funniest thing from last year and Kit Harrington is unreal in it.