Venus and Serena Williams: 11 Reasons Women's Tennis Needs Them at Wimbledon
Certain events are just suited to certain stars.
Like Rafael Nadal in the French Open, Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France and LeBron James in disappointing playoff losses, Venus and Serena Williams belong in Wimbledon. Even after all these years, they are still the biggest names in women's tennis, and Wimbledon, of course, is the most prestigious of majors.
Both Williams sisters have suffered hardships recently, having endured nagging injuries and subsequent drops in world rankings. They both missed the French Open, making it the first Grand Slam since 2003 in which neither one competed. Finally, though, Venus and Serena appear poised to return, and not a moment too soon.
Women's tennis has dearly missed these two. Here are 11 reasons why the sport needs them at Wimbledon.
1. Williams' Wimbledon Domination
Venus and Serena have won a combined nine Wimbledon championships. Venus has won five times, while Serena has won four.
Every sport, particularly tennis, embraces domination of a particular event. It creates a healthy buzz around the top dog while priming the rest of the field, challenging the other participants to take him/her down.
Weren't we all excited for Novak Djokovic's potential surge through the French because we thought he had a real chance at defeating the "King of Clay" Rafael Nadal? It creates intrigue for at least half the draw.
With the Williams sisters competing, this potential is, of course, doubled. Assuming they're healthy (and minimally rusty), every one of their matches should be a compelling watch, because they have far and away the strongest reputations in the field.
2. The Top 10 Is a Mess
With all due respect to the current elite in women's tennis, there isn't much to brag about here.
Caroline Wozniacki is presently No. 1 in the world, but she has yet to win a Grand Slam tournament in her career. She and the No. 2 and 3 seeds, Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva, respectively, flamed out of the French Open, each losing before the quarterfinals. (It was the first time in the Open Era that the top three seeds had done so poorly.)
Venus and Serena Williams know a thing or two about being No. 1. Venus claimed the heralded spot for 11 weeks in 2002, and Serena has held the position for a total of 118 weeks.
Currently No. 29 and 25, respectively, one could venture a guess that Venus and Serena are hungry to return to the top of the rankings. The sport as a whole is just as eager.
3. The Rivalry
As much as the tennis world loves Venus and Serena individually, it enjoys seeing them play against one another that much more.
Serena currently holds the edge in the overall head-to-head matchup, winning 13 of 23 matches against older sister Venus. In Grand Slam finals, Serena has a more impressive lead, having beaten Venus in six of eight matches.
Wimbledon has been a prime spot for the rivalry to heat up, as the sisters have met in the finals on four occasions. Serena won three of these four battles.
Women's tennis could use a revival of this rivalry, seeing as there aren't really any other rivalries to speak of at the moment.
Perhaps it's not quite as exciting as watching them do battle, but when Venus and Serena join forces in doubles, the results are still positive.
The duo has won 12 Grand Slam doubles titles together, including four Wimbledon championships.
Next to the Bryan brothers, they have to be the most captivating doubles players in recent tournament history. Can anyone even name another women's doubles pair?
5. Everyone Loves a Comeback Story...
...so they'd really love two!
Venus and Serena have each gone through medical maladies in the past couple of years. Venus suffered a knee injury in 2010 that was followed by a hip injury this year.
Serena had what can only be described as a freak accident, stepping on a piece of glass last summer and eventually needing surgery on her foot. This year, she also suffered from a hematoma and pulmonary embolism.
Imagine how the tennis world would react if the two most recognizable starlets in the sport simultaneously demonstrated their full recovery at Wimbledon.
6. National Pride
The most famous American tennis players of the past decade (male or female) continuing their dominance on British soil?
Andy Murray, eat your heart out.
And, as this writer suggests, the Wimbledon faithful may finally be ready to appreciate Serena.
7. Challenge Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova is starting to show signs of returning to form, the same form that saw her once capture the world's No. 1 overall ranking.
She made it to the semifinals of the French Open and is presumably fully recovered from her torn rotator cuff, which she had surgically repaired in late 2008.
If she is truly going to rise back to the top, the best thing she can do (and the most satisfying for tennis fans) is face the best of the best in competition. That means at least one Williams sister must come into her path.
8. Martina Navratilova Believes in Them
They have to back up her support, don't they?
9. What Will They Wear?
The Williams sisters get about as much attention for what they wear as for how they swing the racket (excuse my slight hyperbole).
Even though Wimbledon employs a strict dress code, there are plenty of things you can do while still wearing all white.
10. Give Us Hope That the End Is Not Near
As hard as it is to believe, Venus and Serena Williams are 30 and 29 years old, respectively, meaning they're starting to creep into the unknown when it comes to tennis careers.
Both players have expressed interest in non-tennis related ventures, namely fashion. But those who love to watch tennis are not ready for the Williams sisters to hang up their rackets for good.
A resurgent performance at Wimbledon would show everyone, perhaps Venus and Serena included, that they can still compete with the best and still have something to give to the game.
I don't think anyone would mind seeing that.
If Venus and Serena Williams retired today, they would undoubtedly by remembered as two of the greatest women's tennis players of all time.
That being said, there is still room for improvement in terms of their historical ranking.
Serena currently has 13 Grand Slam singles titles, placing her in sixth place on the all-time women's list. Fifth on the list is Chris Evert with 18. While it will be difficult for her to reach that mark, it is not impossible, and a win at Wimbledon to get her back on track after her injuries would be a major boost.
Venus, meanwhile, has seven Grand Slam singles titles, leaving her tied for 12th place with four other players. That's lower than you expected, right? It would be helpful for Venus if she could find a way into the top 10 all-time.
Then again, she could just as easily add to her legacy at Wimbledon: Venus is one of only three women's players to win five or more titles at the All England Club.