Which is stronger, history or pride? The tennis world is about to find out. Today in the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open, it is Serena Williams vs. her sister Venus with history and pride on the line. A win by Serena would make history because it would capture for her the calendar Grand Slam, winning all four majors in one year. But for Serena it is a matter of simple pride.
History is a strong contender to win this match. Both Williams sisters have won twice in the four times they have met at Flushing. Venus won the first match back in 2001 when she was still considered the stronger of the two players. She won 6-2, 6-4 in the finals and captured the championship while Serena settled for runner-up. That appeared to be a turning point for Serena who proceeded to win the next six matches against her sister, five of which were Grand Slam finals.
In the 2002 U.S. Open Serena Williams turned the tables on Venus winning 6-4, 6-3. The sisters dominated tennis during the 2002 season winning six out of seven Grand Slam finals. Serena won what many refer to as the “Serena Slam” because she won four Grand Slam championships in a row. The two would not meet at Flushing again until 2005 when Venus turned the tables back on Venus with a 7-6, 6-2 win in the quarter-finals. Kim Clijsters eventually won that tournament. In 2008 it was Serena back on top winning a hard-fought match ending in two tie breakers 7-6, 7-6. Serena went on to win her third title in that tournament.
One more point about the power of history. Serena has captured a “Serena Slam” but a victory today would be a calendar Grand Slam, the first since Steffi Graf in 1988. Serena has already placed herself in a very prestigious place in women’s tennis, but this win would place her in a special place along side of Graf, one of the greatest. Serena Williams vs. sister Venus, history and pride on the tennis court. This is history in the making. Maybe.
Yes, history is strong, but what about the power of pride? Serena Williams is ranked number one in the world while Venus comes in at number 23. Serena holds the edge in their total matches 15-11 and has won six of the last seven match ups. Add to that the friendly competition that exists between them in their outside endeavors. According to Merlisa Lawrence Corbett of Bleacher Report, Serena is queen of the endorsements having landed lingerie line Berlie and JPMorgan Chase. Venus has gone in the direction of ownership with the purchase of franchises of Jamba Juice and finds time to operate V Starr Interiors, an interior design firm.
To add to this matter of pride, Venus has been living since 2011 with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that has several serious symptoms that have obviously slowed down her career. She has a lot to prove and the match today might very well be the way she captures the tennis momentum from her sister once again. History is hard to overcome, but any athlete will agree that few forces are as strong as basic human pride.
So, how will this crucial match turn out? Everyone, of course, is predicting a Serena victory. One comment on a news article reflected what most people are thinking: “A huge yawn. Venus is not that good. Easy Serena victory.” One cannot help but wonder if this person underestimates the pride factor. Most people make that mistake because pride is a matter of the heart and most people vote for brawn over heart every time. Serena Williams vs. her sister Venus brings out the conflict of history and pride. Often, pride wins and that makes for good history.
By Lloyd Gardner
Sports Illustrated.com: Serena Venus U.S. Open Head to Head History
BBC.com: Sport, Tennis
Healthland Time.com: What is Sjogrens Syndrom, an Expert Explains
Bleacher Report.com: Serena and Venus Williams Paths Collide at U.S. Open as Lives go Separate Ways
Top Photo courtesy of Labbradolci’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Bottom Photo courtesy of Edwin Martinez’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License