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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Serena vs Venus: The most amazing sister act in history shows America what it is

Serena Williams pushed sentiments aside in an emotion-charged 6-4 6-4 defeat of sister Venus to win the Australian Open on Saturday and a record 23rd grand slam title in the professional era

tennis Updated: Jan 28, 2017 18:30 IST
United States' Serena Williams, right, celebrates after winning the Australian Open championship in Melbourne on Saturday. She beat sister Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4
United States' Serena Williams, right, celebrates after winning the Australian Open championship in Melbourne on Saturday. She beat sister Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4(AFP)

Two black women, who happen to be sisters. Two Americans up against each other for the first Grand Slam title of the 2017 calendar year. Both from impoverished, down-at-heel backgrounds. Both with a shared, choppy family history.

In President Trump’s post-truth world, both exemplify the best of America: women’s tennis; sport; aspiration; resoluteness; and the willingness to not let go.

Venus Williams is 36 years old; Serena is 35.

They have last met in an Australian Open final 14 years ago.

The world has become unrecognizable since then.

Serena is on the verge of becoming the woman to win the most Grand Slam titles ever. Venus is on the verge of a long-awaited, and, perhaps, never-to-be major title.

Break. Break back. Break. Break back. 2-2 in the opening set. Both nervy. Neither giving way.

It seems at this point, watching Serena’s double fault, watching her swing the backhand wide, watching her volley in to the net, that she is giving her elder sister room, room for manouvure, space, room to get ahead.

Is Serena, the winner of 23 Grand Slam titles, World No 2 about to become No 1 if she were to win, giving her elder sister (who became World No 1 before Serena did) some sort of a handicap?

Then Serena breaks. Shakes her head clear. Holds the final service game to snare the first set in 41 minutes.

The second set is more predictable.

On serve till 3-3. After which, inevitably, Serena has the break. The power and the athleticism of the younger sister trumps the agility and the angles the elder sister is trying to work on her backhand, trying to stretch the play from side to side.

6-4, 6-4 is the final scoreline.

Serena Williams now has more Grand Slam titles than any other woman on the history of tennis.

The sisters hug. Each is effusive in praise of the other. Both are teary-eyed. For different reasons. One has scaled a peak that will never be scaled again. The other has been rolled down a hill she is unlikely to ever climb again.

Serena. Venus. What a story.

They are unique. They are on their own, against the other. In this fascinating profile of the two sisters in the New York Times Magazine, Venus signs off by saying, “We’re on our own.”

Before the final, Serena had said something like: Regardless of what happens in the final, we have both won.

They have. Especially in Trump’s post-truth America. Especially by showing what America can be. If it tries.

Wonder if they can make America great again.

Soumya Bhattacharya tweets at @soumya1910

First Published: Jan 28, 2017 18:21 IST