Sister showdown: Serena, Venus facing off in Rogers Cup semifinals
The WTA and ATP event this week is sponsored by Rogers Communication, a telecom giant, but it’s also serving as product placement for time travel. After wins from both Serena and Venus Williams at the Rogers Cup on Friday, setting up Williams Bowl XXV, it feels a lot like 2002 or so, as one reader put it.
"I definitely don't like playing her -- I think I've lost to her more than anyone else on the tour," Serena said after her match. "So it's definitely not a fun match for me, to be honest. But she's tough. She has a great serve. She runs every ball down. She has a great backhand. She hits winners off the forehand.
"She just does everything well, so it's not an ideal match-up for anyone, to be honest."
The re-ascent of Venus has been on everyone's minds in tennis this summer. Just a few months removed from seniors tour eligibility, she is playing her best tennis in recent memory. At Wimbledon, Venus came within a few points of beating Petra Kvitova, the eventual champion, in perhaps the best match of the tournament. Encouraged -- not dispirited -- by that result, Venus has continued her rise through the hard-court season this summer, playing long matches in sometimes challenging conditions. She's sustained both her focus and fitness, and has summoned her best tennis at the most critical times. (The late stages of her fourth-round against Germany’s Angelique Kerber was a clinic in clutch play.)
In a flipping of the usual script, Venus is eclipsing Serena, but the renaissance of Williams the Younger is significant, too. When the casual fan last saw Serena she was, of course, stumbling around the court in a Wimbledon doubles match, one of the stranger tennis interludes you will ever see (which is saying something.) This was supposed to be the year Serena supplanted Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and continued to mount tennis’ summit. Instead, 2014 was shaping up as a disaster, punctuated by the debacle at Wimbledon.