Leland Stein III

Williams sisters continue to make tennis history!

In sports column on January 27, 2017 at 2:31 am
By Leland Stein III
Serena has proven to to a G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) in the international tennis world. However, her sister, Venus, her G.O.A.T. adversary, unfortunately since 2011 has battled with Sjögren’s syndrome. It is a debilitating autoimmune disease that causes super-extreme fatigue and can result in organ and muscle damage.
Most thought that Venus would retired because of it, especially because at the time, she was thought of as an older player. With seven Grand Slam singles titles to her name and 12 doubles titles won with Serena, she had already acknowledged herself as a noteworthy tennis star.
Yet . . . here we are sports fans with a 2017 Australian Open final that will feature sisters Venus (36-years-old) and Serena (35) Williams.
This will be the first encounter of the two sisters in a Gland Slam final since 2009. Venus has not won a Grand Slam title since 2008.
The journey to this point in Venus’ life has been radical. It took heart, guts, commitment and intrinsic will that only a super-special world-class athlete processes.
Win or lose, no one loses in the Saturday match in this Australian Open match. If Venus wins it will be historic in her comeback to greatness and a heartwarming win over adversity, and, if Serena wins it will put her past Steffi Graf with 23 Grand Slam titles in the open-era. Officially anointing her as the women’s tennis G.O.A.T.
How blessed I feel as my time winds down as a journalist. Having covered the Williams sisters since they were young teens just thinking about being pros. I have been there for all their trials and tribulations, including the racist rants vehemently hurled at them during the 2001 Indian Wells Masters tournament in California. It happened after Venus withdrew from her semifinal match with her sister Serena.
Their Dad, Richard, knew the competitive spirit of Serena, and did not want them battling each other early in their tennis progression. He asked the tournaments to put them in separate brackets in non Grand Slam tournaments. Indian Wells refused, so Richard flipped the game.
As a result of all the negatives in Indian Wells the sisters boycotted the event for 14 years. I was sitting right behind their farther, Richard, when the barbs were unleashed. I heard them, it was real. Many of my media colleagues questions if it really happened . . . it did!!!
I was there covering the sisters over four different Olympic Games as both players won four gold medals at those Summer Games, one each in singles and three in doubles – all won together – the most of any tennis players. As a duo, they have also completed the Career WTA Golden Slam (Wimbledon, Australian Open, US Open and French Open) in doubles together, twice.
The sisters told the press in Australia that both of them making the Finals at this point in their careers was the pinnacle of their tennis journeys.
Indeed I can feel the love their Dad, in particular, implanted in two of the most competitive players on the WTA Tour. Yet the love and real understanding of family first, grew roots and has lasted for the over 20 years they have had to hurt each other on the national stage. It is real what they have!!!!
With America being as divided as it ever has amid the Trump presidential win, the Williams sisters has given all of us a reason to smile, hope, dream, wonder, believe in rejuvenation and intrinsic motivation.
No matter what happens Saturday, a Williams will be victorious!!!!!
Leland Stein III can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and Twitter at LelandSteinIII

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