Williams sisters

Venus and Serena Williams were born 15 months apart in one of the most ridiculous — albeit successful — sports dreams ever.

Their father, Richard, watched the 1978 French Open women’s singles final and heard that champion Virginia Ruzic was awarded $40,000. That’s more than he earns in an entire year, Richard points out.

Richard soon told his wife Olasene that they needed to have two daughters. He wanted to raise them in a strict and isolated way, while raising them to become tennis champions who could enrich the family.

This is obviously ridiculous.

How do you know if they have enough athleticism, enough mental strength, or enough competitiveness to reach the elite of the elite? How do you know if they like tennis? Also, Richard wasn’t even a coach (he would read instructional books and watch videos), and the family was clearly working class and engaged in sports that benefited the wealthy.

Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s not crazy.

So maybe it makes sense that after going through that crucible Venus and Serena would be world class in other ways too.


There is no doubt about the great achievements of 42-year-old Venus and 40-year-old Serena in tennis. Richard’s grand plan somehow worked. Venus has won seven Grand Slam titles. Serena 23.

The brotherhood between the two is also beyond doubt.

“Best friend,” Venus said.

Serena Williams, left, and Venus Williams compete as a doubles duo for the last time in their careers after losing to Lucy in the opening round of the US Open on September 1, 2022 in New York Hradka and Linda Noskova.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Serena Williams, left, and Venus Williams compete as a doubles duo for the last time in their careers after losing to Lucy in the opening round of the US Open on September 1, 2022 in New York Hradka and Linda Noskova. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Their partnership in competitive tennis has ended. They lost 7-6, 6-4 to Linda Noskova and Lucy Hradka in the opening round of the US Open doubles on Thursday.

Serena says she’s retiring, and Venus is likely to follow.

They haven’t played together in a major since 2018, and it’s mostly for nostalgia. Of course they fought, especially in the first set, but Venus especially couldn’t compete at this level anymore.

Seeing them there – The Williams Sisters v. The World – is still a feel-good comeback moment. Not just playing, but smiling, laughing, encouraging. A handful of Compton kids threw their fists and drew 23,000 to New York’s Center Court — the first time in a first-round doubles match. As a doubles team, they have won 14 Grand Slams and 3 Olympic gold medals. On this night, they were no match for an unseeded team in their 20s. It’s almost irrelevant.

While the focus has been on Serena’s singles match — she reached the third round on Friday and Venus lost early — perhaps the most fitting curtain call would be by her sister’s side.

Start together. done together.

Along the way, they changed the sport, inspired lives, and yes, became rich and famous just as Richard planned. They did it in unison. If there is competition, they are hidden. If there is jealousy, it is a secret. Mutual support is encouraging.

There are many reasons why this is not the case.

The two did grow up in a strict and isolated home, as Richard planned, and were relentlessly trained to pursue unfair expectations, but remained close even as adults.

Venus was the most talked about star inside and outside the early family. Serena is the “little sister,” although she’s rarely mad about it.

When Serena Williams won her first major at the U.S. Open at age 17 in 1999, the script changed dramatically. It’s only been two years since Venus lost in the final, but Venus, apparently immune to jealousy, may have been the biggest cheerleader that day.

Venus would break through and win her first Grand Slam title in 2000 to become world No. 1 for a while. Serena embraced that, even if it included a loss to Venus in the 2001 US Open final. Now it’s Serena playing the role of the biggest fan.

Venus won the first three fights as a pro before Serena prevailed. Both are facts that can cause tension. The two will meet nine times in major finals, of which Serena has won seven. If it weren’t for her little sister, Venus might have doubled her primary count to 14. If it weren’t for Venus, Serena might have had 25, thus surpassing Margaret Court’s record.

When one or the other often struggles in a head-to-head game, fans and the media often wonder if they’re throwing the game in Richard’s direction. It’s a criticism that bothers them so much and only increases tensions.

However…it didn’t.

“My first job was my sister,” Venus said after beating Serena in the 2008 Wimbledon final. “I take that very seriously.”

Think of the 2002 French Open, when Serena defeated Venus in the final, Venus quickly picked up the camera and joined the pool of photojournalists to take pictures of her sister lifting the Champions Cup.

This bond is unique and strong.

Venus and Serena Williams.  (Photo by Pool DUFOUR/LENHOF/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Venus and Serena Williams. (Photo by Pool DUFOUR/LENHOF/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

As a child, Serena used to be so fascinated by Venus that she would imitate everything about her. Also like the color. Also like animals. Whenever the family went out to eat, she would order whatever Venus ordered. Ultimately, her parents tried to get Serena to think for herself and make choices first.

“But after [Venus would] order, I just change my order,” Serena said.

However, it bounced back in a form of protection. Venus kept staring at Serena. No one messed with her little sister. One day at school, Serena forgot her lunch money. Venus crossed her.

“You go to dinner,” Venus said.

Together they navigate the often ruthless world of professional tennis. In tough times, they use each other as indestructible shields. When it’s fun, they playfully turn everything into a game and become partners in crime.

At one point, they were eager to talk and learn from other great players, but were afraid to approach them. So they created their own newsletter, Tennis Monthly Review, which they use to conduct sit-in “interviews” with older players, talking to Pete Sampras and others about how to stay ahead of the competition.

Anyway, they are together. frustration. Injuried. loss. victory. dispute. relation. Everyone’s health scare. The murder of a sister. The breakup of their parents.

Whatever it is, Venus is carrying Serena, and Serena is carrying Venus.

Good times, bad times, good times again.

So here they are, for the last time, on the field together. They hadn’t played together in years, but Serena called Venus and told her they were in the doubles draw for this U.S. Open.

“She’s the boss,” Venus said with a smile. “So what I do she tells me what to do.”

If she’s going to retire, she needs her best friend, her sister, her world conqueror, by her side. Richard Williams did nurture several tennis icons, as well as several world-class siblings.

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