Sunday, August 10, 2014

Past, Present and Future: Venus and Serena Williams

by Savannah

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Venus Williams has been playing great tennis for the last three weeks. Serena Williams is visually thinner than she was when she played Wimbledon. The sisters faced each other for the 25th time today, the first time in Canada, at the Rogers Cup in Montréal, Québec. Anyone who saw the match will agree that it's the best match the two have played against each other, ever.

It was clear from the beginning that both women came to play. There was no holding back, no pulled shots, nothing to indicate that either one of them had any angst about playing their sibling. Venus was standing inside the base line daring Serena to hit one of her monster serves. Serena, never one to back down from a challenge, did just that. It was by becoming a servebot that she pulled out the first set 7-6(2). But Venus continued to challenge Serena's game not only continuing to challenge her serve but with her movement. Venus covered the baseline like a big cat, getting to balls in two or three strides other women wouldn't have ever reached.

Then there were the spectacular rallies. Lobs. Slices. Monster forehands. Beautiful back hands. Moonballs. They played the match people always knew they were capable of playing against each other. Against a still weak, in my opinion, Serena Venus shut down her sisters game and came away with the three set win.

So why are supposed fans of Venus and Serena arguing about whether Serena should ditch her coach instead of looking at how she's updated and modified her game? Why is no one talking about Serena being too thin right now? Why is no one talking about Venus spectacular play over the last three weeks culminating in her victory today? Why are people instead dragging up the old canard about their father fixing their matches?

Let's be frank. Richard Williams and Oracene Price changed the game of tennis. Not women's tennis but tennis as a whole. The US tennis establishment mocked their beginnings, where they came from, how they looked, how they wore their hair. The said they were "mindless ball bashers" and praised players like Martine Hingis for her "cerebral" approach to the game. Even now, when it is obvious that scouting and mental fortitude are part of both womens repertoire there are those who continue to say that they don't think on court, that they don't adjust, that they haven't changed as they've matured.

Anyone with eyes to see knows that it's the imitators of the Williams who have not changed, who fell into the trap of thinking all they did was hit hard and haven't been able to change their games. By the time the haters catch up to what Venus and Serena are doing now they'll be on to something else.

Remember last year when there were calls for Venus to dump David Witt? Now they're screaming that Serena should dump Patrick Mouratoglou. When you ask why they say he's changed her game. Well, she wouldn't have hired him if she wanted to become a one trick pony. If and when the time comes for Serena to move on to another coach she will. She is the sun and everyone, trainers, coaches, hitting partners, nutritionists, all of them revolve around her. Oh, and David Witt? He's still on the sidelines being the quiet strength behind his boss, Venus.

Serena had a record breaking year last year. She could not physically keep playing like that ad infinitum. She needs to preserve herself. We know Venus has been ill for years and is working her way back into the conversation, the retirement watch over for her. Both will have good days. Both will have bad days. Both will lose to people they shouldn't. Of course fans would like to see Serena play like she did last year and Venus back in the top ten. We can't predict what will be. We know that players some consider scrubs will play the matches of their lives to try and be able to say they beat a Williams.

Venus and Serena will leave the stage when they're ready. Until they decide it's time they will continue to evolve, to tinker with their games and work on their bodies to keep themselves in top shape. There's a long line of people standing to the left who underestimated the intelligence, the athleticism, the will of these two elite athletes. That line will only get longer. They're the biggest draw in tennis and there is no reason to pretend otherwise.

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