If the men’s honours board at Wimbledon is to be dominated by two names, the ladies’ equivalent is principally dominated by one: Williams. Venus and Serena have now won now seven of the last nine titles at the All England club and been runner-up four times between them in that time.
It is the kind of dominance that once seemed likely at all the grand slams. Venus reached the final of her first US open in 1997 and her sister won at Flushing Meadows at just her second attempt in 1999. Their 2001 final clash at their home grand slam was expected to be the first of many showdowns for the major trophies.
It is hard to say they have underachieved – Venus is five time Wimbledon winner and her record at SW19 deserves comparisons with Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf, whilst Serena is in a select band to have won all four majors – but the expected period of dominance has not materialised.
The reasons for this are varied, ranging from injury and personal tragedy to an apparent loss of interest in the game. The pair are famed for their interest in the fashion and entertainment industries, with Serena herself one professing to be ‘part tennis player, part actress’. They also had multiple grand slam winners Martina Hingis and Justine Henin as opposition.
It is ironic that the more driven and focused Hingis and Henin retired earlier from the sport rather than the Williams sisters. This is perhaps due to those other interests and they now appear to enjoy the game more than they ever have done. At 28 and 26 they might be looking towards the end of their career, but the initial opportunity for family dominance again appears possible.
They have have the ability to win tournaments with little preparation (Serena notably won the Australian open last year with no significant practice) which says much about their natural skill and match play prowess. However, both appeared fully focused at Wimbledon and their desire to make history and leave a family legacy suggests they are ready to mount serious assaults on the other majors.
Venus has two US open titles to go with her five Wimbledon crowns, going past the quarter finals just once at Roland Garros and it is apparent that Serena is better-suited to succeed on clay and hard courts. However, the retirement of Henin has removed a major obstacle to progress at the majors and no other player is equipped to compete with the sisters’ power as the Belgian was. Maria Sharapova is still inconsistent and Serbian stars Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic struggled to justify their seedings at Wimbledon. tennis predicts