She said what? Venus on family and competition – ESPN
“Yeah, I still think of her as Serena, but I don’t … I don’t separate it.”
– Venus Williams, on whether she shares sister Serena’s ability to separate the sister from the rival when she looks across the net.
NEW YORK — Give Serena Williams credit for honesty. After she eliminated Venus from the US Open on Tuesday night, she told the Arthur Ashe crowd that in a match she doesn’t look at Venus as he sister, but her competitor. Serena has that chip of ice that exists in the heart of most great champions.
That helps explain how Serena was able to vault over her formidably gifted sister to become perhaps the greatest female tennis player of all time. No need to pity Venus. She has lived large as well, albeit within the shadow cast by Serena.
Of all the factors that sometimes made these Venus vs. Serena matches onerous exercises in sibling psychology rather than spirited debates about the comparative virtues of the kick serve or gluten-free diet, etc., how their relationship influences their ability to compete with each other is the most persistent theme. This is the one that won’t go away.
“I will always be the older sister,” Venus said after she lost this last battle, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. “That is never going to change.”
That’s a pity, because even though the ticking of the sisters’ career clock grows louder by the day — Venus is already 35, Serena is 33 — it seemed that in recent matches they had competed against each other with fewer inhibitions and restraints.
Montreal, an extremely close match that Venus won last summer, was a good example. And in this latest match, Serena allowed herself a few fiery fist pumps and exhortations, although they were aimed at the ground rather than Venus’ visage.
But Venus’ comments challenge the feeling that the playing field has been leveled through experience, age, wisdom and success. The “rivalry” (no matter what, it certainly is that: Serena’s lead is a slim 16-11) still warrants an asterisk. It still generates the same questions, the same speculations. Would it be any different if either of the women managed her sisterly emotions differently?
Perhaps that explains why both sisters, and Serena in particular, appear tired of it all. When Venus was asked if anything was different from the times she and Serena had played each other five, 10 years ago, she said only: “I don’t think it’s changed. Not for me, no.”
Serena, who appeared melancholy during her own meeting with reporters, praised Venus and reiterated her conviction that she’s the “toughest opponent I face.” At the same time, she seemed distant. When her attitude was pointed out to her, she grew animated and said:
“It’s 11:30. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t want to be here.” Because of the friendly way she said it, everyone laughed. “I just want to be in bed right now. I have to wake up early to practice. I don’t want to answer any of these questions, and you keep asking me the same questions. It’s not really — you’re not making it super enjoyable.”
Historic, yes. Enjoyable, no. Not ever. Credit Serena with honesty, again.