Very slowly and very cautiously the tennis tour is starting up again. So far only women's events have been played officially with the first one last week in Palermo, Sicily, and this week with two events, in Prague led by Simona Halep and in Kentucky with Serena Williams as the top seed.
It is in Lexington, in the heart of bluegrass country and home to some of the greatest racing thoroughbreds where the focus of attention is in the tennis world. In a second-round match two of the greatest players will come face to face for the 31st time and it is just the type of match that tennis needs to return to the spotlight. Lexington, Kentucky will be the 14th different location in which they meet.
Call it what you want, sister act, sibling rivalry, whatever, but it is most definitely a hot topic when Serena and Venus Williams meet. Between them there is a combined age of 79 years 19 days - Serena is 38 (39 late September) and Venus was 40 in June. It is understood to be the oldest match-up since Martina Navratilova played Amy Frazier in Charleston in 2004 when their combined age was 79 years 28 days.
In women's tennis an all-Williams encounter garners the most attention since tennis 'most prolific rivalry which involved Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert playing 80 times and it is the arguably the only active women's match-up that would stand up against those of the men's' triumvirate - Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer.
For Serena beating Bernarda Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 was her first win since February and for Venus, beating major winner and former world No.1 Vika Azarenka 6-2, 6-3 in the first round, is her first win of the year.
“I was pleased with my competitiveness, I'm always competitive but I stayed in the moment and didn't get down on myself,” Serena said. “I don't know if I have to work on anything in my game; I'm playing unbelievable in practice. I'm calm and I know I'm going to get better with each match but maybe I just need more rhythm, more time, just being out there with each match. I know it's going to come. ”
Playing in an empty stadium was obviously strange for all and Venus explained it was difficult to play a first match after so long away. Like her sister, she felt she has been playing very well in practice but to play an actual match is not the same. She was however satisfied with getting through such a high-profile match in the first round.
“I think for the both of us (it was) to walk out there and hopefully play well, and I think we did,” Venus said. “But yeah, from one grand slam winner to another; it's quite the draw for me but quite honestly its perfect, I haven't played for ever. I want to play the best players and I think I got my wish to play Serena, so here we go. ”
It was at the Australian Open in 1998 that the sisters first met across a net. They were shy and reserved at the time and it was Venus who won, in fact she won the first three matches they played. Overall, their head to head is 18-12 to Serena and this will be their first match since the 2018 US Open which Serena won 6-1, 6-2. They should have played in Rome last year, but Serena withdrew giving Venus a walkover.
Certainly, the anticipation for the match is there even though the majority of times siblings don't produce the best tennis, but on this occasion in particular interest is also high due to the circumstances and the lack of tennis that has been played.