Her longevity outshines all of the other players’ in the 21st century’s tennis. And there’s a reason why : Venus Williams was already taking part in Grand Slam finals in the 20th century, from 1997. Semi-finalist at Wimbledon and still among the Top 10 in 2016, Serena’s older sister has seen, in 20 years at the top of her sport…
… 7 Grand Slam titles in the singles : 5 at Wimbledon (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008) and 2 and the US Open (2000, 2001).
… the greatest summer of her career in the year 2000 : winning Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympic Games in three months.
… her younger sister Serena winning 22 Grand Slam titles
… and 14 Grand Slam titles together in the doubles…
… in 14 finals played ! A certain idea of the family’s infallibility.
… 4 Olympic gold medals : 1 in the singles (Sydney 2000) and 3 in the doubles with her sister (Sydney 2000, Pékin 2008, Londres 2012)…
… while waiting for Rio where the sisters will once again be favorite.
… the world number 1 spot in the singles (11 weeks) and in the doubles (8).
… 2 wins over her sister in a Grand Slam final.
… or 2 of Serena’s 6 defeats in 28 major finals played.
… against 6 defeats in a Grand Slam final against her sister, on the 7 lost overall. In other words : to defeat a Williams, there’s nothing like…another Williams. Tough love.
… 4 consecutive defeats in a Grand Slam final between Roland-Garros 2002 and the Australian Open 2003 : yes, while Serena accomplished a Grand Slam over two different seasons, Venus was achieving Grand Slam of lost finals.
… a Grand Slam over two different seasons in the doubles, between Wimbledon 2009 and Roland-Garros 2010. We’ll let you guess who was her partner.
… « the greatest women’s match in the 2000 decade », an honorary distinction received for the Wimbledon final she played against Lindsay Davenport in 2005, and won 9/7 at the last set after having saved a match point when she hit a backhand in terrific style.
… 71 entries in Grand Slam tournaments, a record in the Open era, shared with Amy Frazier for now, but which she will probably hold by herself after the next US Open.
… 19 entries at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, a record for the two most prestigious tournaments in the world.
… 10 defeats in the first week of Roland-Garros.
… 12 quarter finals - at least - in Wimbledon.
… the supremacy of the Williams family at Wimbledon : between 2000 and 2012, the sisters have won 10 of the possible 13 titles at stake.
… the record for the most powerful serve on the women’s circuit (207 km/h at the US Open 2007). She held it until 2014, before it was broken by Sabine Lisicki.
… at this point of her career, no match played against the French Lucie Renault, the Brit Sarah McClaren or the Italian Giulia Ferrari. Too bad : Williams-Renault, McLaren-Williams, or a Williams-Ferrari confrontation would have shot off, at top speed !
… an American Dream Team which logically won the BNP Paribas Fed Cup in 1999 : Venus and Serena, with Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, and Chanda Rubin. With Billie Jean King on the bench.
… a Sjörgen syndrome, an illness multiplying the sensation of tiredness which impacted the second part of her career : between September 2010 and March 2012, she only took part in 4 tournaments in 12 months.
… rivalries with Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport.
… the resistance of the grannies Sterffi, Monica and Arantxa.
… Iva Majoli winning Roland-Garros, for what was Venus’ first entry in a major tournament.
… Jana Novotna’s triumph at Wimbledon, during a summer which has seen France becoming the football world champion.
… Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters’ peak for a four-ways rivalry : the Williams against Belgium.
… the shooting stars Myskina, Ivanovic, Safina.
… the Russian golden age with Sharapova, Kuznetsova, Dementieva.
… the irregular youngsters Kvitova, Azarenka, and Halep.
… and maybe the rise of the future star of her era, Garbine Muguruza.
… Marion Bartoli in a Wimbledon final.
… Anna Kournikova as a tennis player. Even in the Top 10.
… the Wimbledon winner’s bal with Goran Ivanisevic.
… a nemesis : Tsvetana Pironkova, who defeated her 3 times in 4 matches, the 3 times in a Grand Slam tournament (Open d’Australie 2006, Wimbledon 2010 et 2011) !
… a first WTA match played, and won, at the age of 14 and 4 months, against a Top 100 player (Shaun Stafford, 58e).
… a last WTA title (to date) won at the age of 35 and 7 months, at the start of 2016.
… a first professional final on the prestigious scene of the US Open, in 1997, at 17.
… a semi-final at Wimbledon at the age of 36 and 1 months, making her the third oldest player to reach that stage.
… 239 matches won in Grand Slam tournaments, the 5th highest total behind the quartet of players having won 18 titles or more, composed of Navratilova, Evert, Graf and Serena.
… 6 defeats on the ruthless score of 6/0 6/0 : the first in 1997, the latest in 2015. The splits.
… only won player with a truly superior record than her in the 21st century : yes, her younger sister who won 22 Grand Slams and who, at 35, says of Venus that she is « my best friend. My twin. My heart. »
By Guillaume Willecoq