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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Venus well aware of Serena's spirit

Photo Titled Venus follow through
Venus follow through

It all started in a tournament held at White City in Sydney. Serena Williams, a relative newcomer on the tour, was playing a match against Lindsay Davenport, who was ranked in the top five.

At one stage, the rookie was losing 1-6, 2-5 and the crowd could get itself ready for the next match, which featured Serena's elder sister Venus.

But Serena kept the crowd and big sister waiting as she fought back to win the match. If Venus didn't already know it by then, she learned that day that little sis Serena was a fighter.

This afternoon, it was a case of history repeating itself. Venus was due second on Centre Court, once her sister's match against Elena Dementieva was finished. As she methodically prepared herself for her own challenge, she watched the scoreboard from Centre Court closely - partly to check when she would be due on court but also, of course, to check on Serena's progress.

And once again, Serena fought back from the brink to keep Venus waiting. Today, she clawed her way back from a set down to end Elena Dementieva’s hopes of reaching her maiden Wimbledon final.

Reflecting on her memories of that Australian tournament, Venus said: “I’ll just never forget. She came back and won that match. It was so intense. I just learned so much from that, her fight. I think that actually has a huge impression on my career, that one incident actually.

“We saved the article. It was called White City’s Great Escape. Afterwards I would read it with an Australian accent. We read it over and over again, about how she overcame all the odds and won that match. That’s classic Serena Williams so it was a huge lesson for both of us.”

This is exactly why Venus will not take her sister lightly when she faces her on the other side of the net for their 21st meeting in Saturday’s final. The women have a head-to-head tally that stands at 10 apiece and there will certainly be no room for any weaknesses on either side, Venus explained.

“There’s not even time to think about kinks [in our games]. You have to play and play well, and that’s what I’m expecting in this final,” she said.

“Even if [Serena] is not playing her best, just that fight she has, you’re facing that. It’s definitely a lot to get your mind around. So for me I’ll be focusing on getting past the player and the fight in the final.”

But perhaps the five-time Wimbledon champion would have preferred a different opponent in the final?

“No, I definitely wanted her to win today. It’s like if she didn’t win or if I didn’t win then the dream doesn’t come true that we’re both playing in the final. So I definitely want to play against her, because the dream has come true for both of us and for our family too.”

But while Venus is happy that her younger sister is in the Saturday showdown, the defending champion won’t be taking the contest lightly. “I don’t want to see myself disappointed. I need to get my titles too."

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