Venus Williams and her little sister Serena
For the past seventeen years the Williams sisters have carried the heavy burden of American tennis on their shoulders, and the load has never been an easy one. Their two-person dynasty has been controversial, but their attitudes about the sport they represent have matured as their games have become more powerful. Their popularity increased as they became more comfortable with their celebrity and confident in their games. They grew up in front of a nation and, eventually, the world.
Never in their 27 professional matches have the theater and drama been more exciting than last night in the quarterfinals of the US Open under the lights in New York City. Approximately 23,000 fans came to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows to watch a match that was more than a game, and the Williams sisters delivered another thrilling exhibition of tennis at the highest level. As the ESPN commentators noted before the match, this was a big-time American sporting event with all the bells and whistles we love in our fascination with sports.
Tom Rinaldi who has replaced Dick Enberg as the TV tennis philosopher who adds the stories to evoke our emotional attachment to an event, made these remarks prior to the match: “In an individual sport, their stories will always be linked…in our view of the Williams sisters, we see champions sharing a court, a desire to win, and a name. True, one will win – but both have prevailed.”
Serena Williams is now two matches shy of her goals of a Calendar Grand Slam in 2015 and a total of 22 Slam titles to tie Steffi Graf’s record in the Open Era. Two matches…and counting.
To be continued.