William’s sisters

venus Serena Williams were born 15 months apart into one of the most ridiculous – albeit most successful – sporting pipe dreams ever formulated.

Her father, Richard, had watched the 1978 French Open women’s singles final and heard that the winner, Virginia Ruzici, had earned $40,000 in prize money. That, Richard noted, was more than he had earned in a whole year.

Richard was quick to tell his wife Oracene that they must have two daughters. He wanted to raise them in a strict and isolated manner while training them to become tennis champions that could make the family rich.

It was obviously absurd.

How do you know if they would be athletic enough or mentally strong enough or competitive enough to reach the elite of the elite? How do you know if they even like tennis? Also, Richard wasn’t even a coach (he read textbooks and watched videos) and the family was decidedly working class in a sport that favors the wealthy.

Just because it worked doesn’t mean it wasn’t crazy.

So maybe it makes sense that after coming through that crucible, Venus and Serena would also prove world-class in something else.


There’s no mistaking the tennis heights of Venus, 42, and Serena, 40. Richard’s grand scheme somehow worked. Venus has won seven major championships. Serena 23

There is also no doubt about the sibling bond between the two.

“Best friends,” said Venus.

Serena Williams, left, and Venus Williams competed as a doubles pair for the last time in their professional careers and lost to Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova in the first round of the US Open on September 1, 2022 in New York.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Serena Williams, left, and Venus Williams competed as a doubles pair for the last time in their professional careers and lost to Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova in the first round of the US Open on September 1, 2022 in New York. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Your partnership regarding competitive tennis has ended. They lost Thursday’s opening round of doubles at the US Open to Linda Nosková and Lucie Hradecká 7-6, 6-4.

Serena says she’s retiring and Venus might not be far behind.

They hadn’t played in a major together since 2018 and did so mostly for nostalgia reasons. They certainly struggled, especially in the first set, but Venus in particular can no longer keep up at this level.

Seeing Them Out There – Williams Sisters v. The World – was still a feel-good moment, a throwback moment. Not just playing, but smiling, laughing, encouraging. A pair of Compton kids pumping their fists and dragging 23,000 onto Center Court in New York — a first for a doubles match in the opening round. As a doubles team, they won 14 majors and three Olympic gold medals. That night they were no match for an unseeded team of 20-year-olds. It hardly mattered.

As much as the focus was on Serena’s game in Singles – She is in the third round Fridaywhile Venus lost early – perhaps the most fitting curtain was here at her sister’s side.

Start together. finish together.

Along the way, they changed sports, inspired lives and, yes, became rich and famous as Richard had planned. They did it in step. If there were rivalries, they were hidden. If there was jealousy, it remained a secret. The mutual support was inspiring.

There were many reasons why that wasn’t the case.

The two grew up, indeed as Richard had planned, in a strict and isolated family, having to train relentlessly to live up to unfair expectations, but also remaining close in the freedom of adulthood.

From an early age, Venus was the star that received the most attention both within and outside of the family. Serena was the “little sister,” though she rarely fretted about it.

That script turned around when Serena became the first to win a major championship, winning the US Open in 1999 at the age of 17. It happened just two years after Venus lost in the finals, but it was Venus, apparently immune to jealousy, who might have been cheering the loudest that day.

Venus would break through and win her first major in 2000, leading to a dominance where she became world No. 1. Serena accepted that, even if it included a loss to Venus in the 2001 US Open final. Now Serena played the role of the biggest fan.

Venus won the first three matches against each other as a professional, then Serena took over. Both were facts that could incriminate. The two met nine times in major championship finals, with Serena winning seven of them. Without her little sister, Venus might have doubled her Major count to 14. Without Venus, Serena might have had 25, surpassing Margaret Court’s record.

When one or the other often struggled in head-to-head matches, fans and media often wondered if they were throwing matches – on Richard’s instructions. It was a criticism that bothered her greatly and could only have heightened the tension.

And yet… it wasn’t.

“My first job is big sister,” Venus said after beating Serena in the 2008 Wimbledon final. “And I take that very seriously.”

Think back to the 2002 French Open when Serena beat Venus in the final, only for Venus to quickly grab a camera and join the pool of photojournalists to snap snaps of her sister holding up the championship trophy.

The bond is as unique as it is strong.

Venus and Serena Williams.  (Photo by Pool DUFOUR/LENHOF/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Venus and Serena Williams. (Photo by Pool DUFOUR/LENHOF/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

As a child, Serena was once so obsessed with Venus that she imitated everything about her. Same favorite color. Same favorite animal. Whenever the family ate out, they ordered whatever Venus ordered. Eventually, her parents tried to get Serena to think for herself and choose first.

“But then [Venus would] order and I would just change my order,” Serena said.

However, it backfired in some sort of protection. Venus always kept an eye on Serena. Nobody messed with her little sister. One day Serena forgot her lunch money at school. Venus forked over hers.

“You’re going to eat,” Venus said.

Together they navigated the often unforgiving world of professional tennis. In troubled times, they used each other as impenetrable shields. In fun times they playfully made everything a game, accomplices.

At one point they were eager to talk to and learn from other great players but were too scared to approach them. So they created their own newsletter, Tennis Monthly Recap, which they used to ‘interview’ older players and educate, for example, Pete Sampras on how to maintain a competitive edge.

Whatever it was, they were together. setbacks. injuries. Losses. victories. controversies. Relationships. health concerns for everyone. The murder of an older sister. The separation of her parents.

Whatever it was, Venus had Serena’s back and Serena had Venus’.

Good times and bad times and good times again.

And here they were together on the pitch for the last time. They hadn’t played together for years, but Serena called Venus and told her they were going to play in this US Open double draw.

“She’s the boss,” Venus said, laughing. “So I do what she tells me.”

If she wanted to retire, she needed her best friend, her sister, her world conqueror by her side. Richard Williams certainly raised a few tennis icons, including a few world-class siblings.

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