Serena tops Venus at Wimbledon
Decades ago, when the Williams sisters were kids in California, taking tennis lessons from Dad on a municipal court and imagining playing at Grand Slam tournaments one day, it was Venus - older, taller, stronger - who usually beat Serena.
Never a fan of losing to her sibling (who would be?) Serena cheated a tad every so often, lying about whether Venus' shots landed in or out.
"That's the past," Serena jokes now with an eye roll. "I was young."
As professionals, on the sport's biggest stages, Serena has been better, especially lately. Yesterday at Centre Court, in the 26th all-Williams contest on tour but first at a major in six years, No. 1-seeded Serena played solidly enough to beat No. 16 Venus 6-4, 6-3 and reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, closing in on the third leg of a calendar-year Grand Slam.
This matchup between five-time champions at the All England Club was one-sided, done in 68 minutes. It's Serena's sixth win in the past seven matches against Venus, part of a 15-11 edge overall. When it ended, Serena walked calmly, quietly - none of her customary "Come on!" exuberance - to envelop Venus in a long hug.
On Serena's mind, it turns out, was this question: How many instalments are left in this one-of-a-kind sibling rivalry?
"I just thought, 'Wow, I'm 33, and she just turned 35. I don't know how many more moments like this we'll have.' I plan on playing for years, but you never know if we'll have the opportunity to face each other," Serena said after they walked off court with matching red racket bags.
Venus' take on the likelihood of future meetings?
"When that moment is over, it will be over," she said, shrugging her shoulders. "It's not now."
Serena, 36-1 this season, has won 25 Grand Slam matches in a row. Get past former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka today then win twice more, and she would complete a self-styled "Serena Slam" of four consecutive major championships, something she also did in 2002-03.
Other matches today: Maria Sharapova vs CoCo Vandeweghe, Agnieszka Radwanska vs Madison Keys, Timea Bacsinszky vs Garbine Muguruza. Serena, Keys and Vandeweghe give the United States three Wimbledon women's quarter-finalists for the first time since 2004.
Three of tomorrow's men's quarter-finals are set: Roger Federer against Gilles Simon, Andy Murray against Vasek Pospisil, and Stan Wawrinka against Richard Gasquet. Defending champion Novak Djokovic dropped the first two sets, then won the next two, before his fourth-round match against Kevin Anderson was suspended because of darkness. They'll play the fifth set today; the winner faces Marin Cilic.
Until yesterday, Venus hadn't dropped a set, but Serena won yesterday's first eight points and wound up with 36 winners and 13 unforced errors.