The tennis gods have done this on purpose for the amusement of tennis fans worldwide. For the 30th time since becoming pros, Venus and Serena Williams will face each other and, in truth, the only winner is tennis.
On Friday two of the most dominant athletes will take center stage in the third round of the US Open. The rankings were not kind to them, although the rankings are bullshit. Serena’s 16th ranking feels like a joke. The 36-year-old left tennis to have a baby, the complications from which were touch and go; played in only four events before returning to Wimbledon wearing a catsuit designed to prevent blood clots (Not that kind, my Jamaican friends) and damn near took the whole thing before losing in the final to Angelique Kerber in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
Venus, 38, had her health struggles too. In 2011, Venus was diagnosed with “Sjogren’s syndrome—a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues,” ABC News reports. Williams struggled with symptoms for years before being diagnosed, yet continued to dominate the sport.
The Williams sisters aren’t normal. They are surely better than there current rankings. I wrote about the delicate balance their father Richard Williams faced in raising black superheroes because that feels more fitting.
Competing at this level for this long despite significant health issues and still dominating the competition feels like the Williams sisters should be given a special ranking. Or maybe they should stop calling them rankings and call them “numbers beside players’ names.” I might be getting a little too technical here, but I thought rankings were supposed to ... you know ... rank people. If you know 16 people in the world better at tennis than Serena, I’ll eat my keyboard.
Until that time we must watch two titans in the sport clash for the 16th time in a Grand Slam event. And the only real winners, no matter what the scoreboard says, is us, the viewers.
And maybe Nike.
“Normally I say cheer for me, but I say cheer for who you want, me or Venus,” Serena said after her second-round match, USA Today reports. “I never root against her, no matter what. So I think that’s the toughest part for me: When you always want someone to win, to have to beat them. I know the same thing is for her. When she beats me, she always roots for me as well.”
While I truly believe that both women could continue to play for another 30 years, I don’t think they want to. So, we need to cherish these moments while we have them.