Why Venus and Serena Own Wimbledon

Only once in the last 10 years has a Wimbledon final not featured one of the Williams sisters, and it has often featured both. This year is no exception.

Serena and Venus hold up their trophies after the 2009 Wimbledon final. (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena and Venus hold up their trophies after the 2009 Wimbledon final. (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Wimbledon’s fast surface grass courts are the perfect fit for Venus’ power game. Her serve is utterly ferocious; it’s typically well over 100 mph and has topped out at 129 mph. She has averaged nearly 120 mph on first serves in several of her matches during this fortnight. (Nadal, in his epic win last summer, served at an average of 110 mph.) In addition, Williams’ serve slices away from the court forcing her opponent to lunge for a return, leaving Venus the entire court to put away a winner. Opponents back so far off the baseline that at times the cameras have struggled to keep them in the shot. During Venus’ third-round win over Carla Suarez-Navarro, the woman who ousted Williams in Melbourne early this year, I kept confusing the Spaniard for a ball girl who couldn’t stay out of the frame. With opponents so far from the baseline, Venus can easily rush the net and use her enormous wingspan to put away easy winners.

Serena has been nearly as dominant during the fortnight. Her 6-2, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Victoria Azarenka featured nine aces from Serena and 26 winners. While not as powerful on serve as her sister, Serena’s game involves enormous grit drive and athleticism. She runs down every shot from side to side until opponents begin to wilt at the thought of ever putting the ball by her. It seems like a game Serena may have learned from playing Venus as a youth.

The all-Williams final marks their 21st tournament match against each other. Presently, the rivalry stands tied at 10 wins each. Venus is vying to be the first woman to win three straight Wimbledon titles since Steffi Graf 1991-’93. She is also in search of her sixth Wimbledon title overall. While Serena should be favored against her sister on other surfaces, especially the hard courts of the U.S Open and the Australian Open, Venus owns grass. It’s as if her game was built for it.

Only once in the last 10 years has a Wimbledon final not featured one of the Williams sisters, and it has often featured both. This year is no exception. With most of their peers on a training table or gone from the game, we should settle in for another era of Williams dominance in women’s tennis. When not facing each other, Venus and Serena are playing for the record books. Graf, Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova—the greatest living female tennis players—need to make room for two more.

Martin Johnson is a regular contributor to The Root.

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