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From start to finish, Venus and Serena Williams always had each other

Follow live updates from Doubles match between Serena and Venus Williams at the US Open.

Williams sisters. They are the yin to the other’s yang. Their personalities are completely different, but they are tied together by history and sisterhood.

Serena Williams, of course, is undoubtedly the North Star of this US Open. Once she hits her last ball here, she’s a darling of tournaments and indeed of the sports world after announcing her plans to “evolve” out of tennis.

Venus Williams, 42, was the trailblazer and older of the two, happily settling into the background as has been customary since Serena grabbed the mantle of her most famous and accomplished sisters. rice field.

But with Venus’ years stacking up and her ranking stuck in the 1500s, this could also be her finale.

Venus went into her first-round match this week with the statuesque, Zen-like composure that has been her trademark for years. A quiet, half-packed Arthur Ashe never broke Venus’ bearings through an error-prone loss in front of her stadium.

In almost every moment of the 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) loss to Alison van Uytvank of Belgium, she was the epitome of stout shoulder-to-shoulder pomp.

We tend to take great men for granted. It’s easy to forget that Venus was the first of the sisters to leap onto the world stage. The unseeded 17-year-old made it to the finals here in 1997.

Lindsay Davenport, who lost to Venus in the 2000 U.S. Open championship playoff, said, “It’s been such an amazingly long career that I’ve forgotten what she was in her prime.” (Venus won again in 2001.) ). “She was so powerful, serving at 120 mph and running all over her body on every shot.”

Those days are gone. The unwavering interdependence that Venus and Serena share never abates.

Earlier in the week, Selena, 40, described Venus as “my rock” and talked about the importance of having Venus a part of this week’s celebration. The two will play in the Grand Slam doubles tournament.

With a mischievous look, Venus told reporters that she had no choice in the matter. “She’s her boss, so she does whatever she says,” she said.

Since the mid-1990s, they have played professional tennis on constant tours with little time to rest and plenty of time to feel isolated and lonely.

For top athletes like the Williams sisters, reaching the last stage in nearly every event has been the job for years. Add race to the mix — the fact that, as black women, Venus and Selena have always been symbols of something more than themselves — and the pressure deepens.

It was more than a blessing that they had each other all along.

They had each other and we saw both.

The sisters have faced each other 16 times in major tournaments, most often in the late rounds. How many Grand Slams would Serena have won if Venus hadn’t been there to fend her off?

The first three times they played on tour there were blowout wins for Venus. and the unnerving way they played as the rivalry was in full swing.

Serena’s awkward performance led to an awkward hug after the match. You can’t play to.”

They had a habit of playing each other so poorly that some of the tennis fandom became convinced that their father, Richard, had fixed the match. Conspiracy theories reached a peak when Venus retired with an injury shortly before the match.

Venus was sitting in the stands as Serena faced Kim Clijsters in the final of that tournament. The predominantly white crowd angrily booed both sisters and, according to Richard Williams, shouted racial slurs. 20 and 19 years old at the time.

In 2002 and 2003, Serena began passing on ultimate greatness as sisters destined for greatness. Serena won them all.

Did this cause brotherly jealousy? Not these two.

Venus, who had just lost to her sister at the French Open in 2002, was so proud of Serena that she happily stepped off the podium, grabbed her camera and joined the press photographers taking pictures of the newly crowned champion. rice field.

Their on-court rivalry has become one-sided over the past few decades, clearly moving in Serena’s favor, but they’ve always been together, always close, and Venus has broad shoulders to rely on. She was a careful older sister who had

Would either have reached their highest heights if their opponent’s example hadn’t provided a constant push to improve? Remember 14 doubles wins?

Now think about all the things the sisters have been through together. In 2003 her half-sister Yetunde Preis was murdered. Venus was diagnosed in 2011 with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue. She died that year from Selena’s pulmonary embolism and then, near-fatal post-pregnancy complications.

If they were solo acts instead of brothers, would they still be performing?

One of the most beautiful things about their careers has been watching them mature and learn from both their successes and embarrassing failures.

Venus spoke about this when asked about her role in helping Serena conclude that it was the right time to leave tennis after losing in the first round.

“We have a huge influence on each other,” she said. “And I’m a big influence on her.”

Venus went on to point out how she tried to move away, with Serena, husband Alexis Ohanian, and young daughter Olympia taking the lead, allowing her sister’s retirement to come naturally.

“This decision has to be for her and her entire family,” Venus said. “The newest part of the family.”

Since they first hit the scene in the 1990s, sisterhood has been synonymous, a knot that never loosens, tied in the public mind and everyday reality.

But time changes everything. A new family is central to the equation.

Serena’s story continues long after this tournament is over. Her journey as a venture capitalist or media mogul is what we’ll find out, and if she has another child, we’ll find out too. They’ll probably land on the cover of Vogue.

Selena stays in the spotlight. And whenever she needed a rock like her sister, Venus was there, self-contained and confident, with all the regal presence and ferocious serve, capable. As loyal as possible.

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