Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister,
And Lord help the sister who comes between me and my (slam).
Actually, Irving Berlin’s lyrics in the 1954 romantic musical White Christmas ended that second line with “man” because Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen played sisters in love with the same man, Bing Crosby. In my 2015 version the two sisters are in love with the same dream: winning major tennis tournaments like the US Open in New York City this week so I took poetic license and inserted “slam.” My apologies to you, Mr. Berlin.
For Serena Williams the stakes couldn’t be higher since she is now three matches away from a Calendar Grand Slam, something which hasn’t been done since 1988. She’s also chasing Steffi Graf’s record of winning 22 majors in the Open Era. She’s at 21 and counting, which already secures her place in tennis history but 22 would place her in the conversation of being the best ever.
The tennis gods have aligned the Open draws with their usual good sense of humor and placed a familiar obstacle in Serena’s quarterfinal match. She will face her older sister Venus for the 27th. time in their professional careers. Serena has won 15 of those matches and Venus has won 11. Venus has won seven Major titles herself and at the ripe old age of 35 appears to be playing up to her personal best tennis again in 2015.
Both sisters have said the one thing they know for sure is that a Williams will be playing in the US Open semi-finals but neither claims to know for sure which sister it will be.
How many times have these women taken to the practice courts in their lifetimes? How many tennis balls have they hit together as a team and separately as the solo act on those courts…they have won 13 Grand Slam titles in their doubles career together, too. Extra kudos to them for these wins.
I have mixed emotions about this quarterfinal match. I wonder about the tension at the Williams family dinner table when everyone tries not to talk about their match or whether they kid each other about who has the better chance of winning. As an only child, I have no point of reference in winning or losing to a sister; but my sense is that Venus and Serena both want to win very badly whenever they step onto the court and this ultimately trumps any potential guilt one might have for standing in the way of the other.
Lord help the sister who comes between me and my Slam.
To be continued.