LONDON – “Where are those Williams sisters?” a Wimbledon ticket-holder asked me yesterday.
Billie Jean, Anita and Bud celebrating her 1st "W" title, doubles with Karen Hantze in 1961
They lost in the fourth round, I replied.
“So what?” the guy, an American, persisted. “They’re as much a part of this place as strawberries, ivy and the Pimm’s Cups. It should be like our baseball with designated hitters. Just insert them automatically in the lineup, into the semifinals.”
Well, not quite. But a semifinals day without either Serena or Venus – or both of them – is like a Pimm’s No. 1 without the gin. Since 2000, when Venus won the first of her five titles, the “Sisters Sledgehammer” were principals in 10 finals out of 12 years, missing out on this year and 2006. continue reading »
June 30 2011 | Wimbledon | No Comments »
Sisterly love may be a beautiful concept, but it doesn’t work on the tennis court for Venus and Serena. At least not until the post-match embrace. They go at each other in their intramural battles in a manner that leaves the rest of their colleagues shocked and awed.
Flower filled urns adorning Centre Court
Venus, owner of 5 Wimbledon titles, wasn’t up to it this year, but the prize stayed in the family – the 8th for the Williams clan as Serena cashed in, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2. It was also Serena’s 11th major singles to Venus’s 7, and gives Little Sister a 11-10 head-to-head edge. continue reading »
July 04 2009 | Wimbledon | No Comments »
Who else would it, could it be, last standing but the Sisters Sledgehammer? The other 126 ladies were just window dressing.
Cameraman in topiary on the roof of the Broadcasting Center
Do you think poor Dinara Safina should sue Medusa, the WTA computer that lists her misleadingly as No. 1? If she were, say, No. 7 or 8, what Venus did to her wouldn’t seem so bad. But that result had a very garish look: Venus, 6-1, 6-0, the worst major semifinal beating since Chris Evert pummeled Camille Benjamin, 6-0, 6-0, in 1984. Not much fun for Camille, a 17-year-old lefty from Bakersfield, Calif., who gave up her senior prom to suffer at the vicious hands of the tourney’s all-time champ. continue reading »
July 02 2009 | Wimbledon | No Comments »
Isn’t Zakopalova a wonderful name?
Detail of Pont Alexandre
Sounds like lallapalooza, and that’s what Zakopalova presented us with on the third day of the French Open — a lallapalooza of a match that almost swept Serena the Great out of Paris before she’d unpacked her luggage. I’m talking about Klara Zakopalova, a mite out of Prague ranked No. 100 who could probably fit into one of Ms. Williams’ handbags. Appropriately they collided on the Suzanne Lenglen Court, named for the unbeatable French diva of the 1920s, who really turned women on to tennis.
Suzanne would have loved this enthralling 3-set tussle as much as the 8000 onlookers in her playground. Fiercely battling from the baseline, lengthening points with dashing saves, they often brought admiring gasps from the bundled-up witnesses late in a day that featured rain and wind as well as touches of March, May, July and November.
continue reading »
May 26 2009 | French Open | 2 Comments »
The sun was shining, as usual, but the women weren’t. Don’t want to pick on the dolls, yet it’s hard not to recognize that this is a low period in their history.
Key Biscayne stadium
Of course they’ve got the Hall of Fame-bound Sisters Sledgehammer – Serena and Venus – high on the summit. However, everybody else seemed to burrow deep into sandy Key Biscayne at the Sony Ericsson.
Maria Sharapova is still shouldered to the bench. Larry Scott, their most successful CEO, has fled. (Larry felt reasonably that his WTA and the ATP should combine to present a united front as, say, MLT — Major League Tennis – like Major League Baseball. The ATP, lacking his imagination, declined.) continue reading »
April 04 2009 | Tournaments | No Comments »
So, like a good reporter, I phoned the Bureau of Missing Persons.
Charlie Pasarell, Daniela Hantuchova with Bud at a reception hosted by the tournament's new sponsor, BNP Paribas
“Any news on a couple of sisters named Serena and Venus Williams?” I asked.
“Who are they?” was the response.
Startled, I said, “Gosh, they own a profession called women’s tennis, and nobody knows where they are.” continue reading »
March 16 2009 | Tournaments | 1 Comment »
It’s not Serena’s fault that Dinara Safin contracted stagefright. Or maybe it is. Looking across the net at destructive Sister Serena is not one of the great views. Nothing scenic about it. It’s like peering over the edge of a cliff and losing your balance.
It was the tennis version of falling into the Grand Canyon, and in this battle for the No. 1 ranking, No. 3 Dinara seemed No.333. I hate to say it because Dinara is such a good kid, and has worked extremely hard to climb so high. But on the first point, Serena’s booming forehand winner, the fire alarm rang, and the 6-0, 6-3 blaze was under way, lasting 59 minutes. It was perhaps the shortest final in minutes in Aussie history (the records aren’t clear). For Verdasco, Nadal and Federer, it was less than a set’s worth or so. continue reading »
February 01 2009 | Australian Open | 1 Comment »