Serena and Venus Williams exemplify true greatness in the sport of tennis. Some say their best years as a formidable tandem—who have each, individually, carved out very separate careers—are behind them.
Both are former No. 1s in their profession, historically having wowed pundits and audiences across the globe.
However, Serena has been pushed back to No. 12 in the rankings, and her sister Venus has slipped all the way to No. 101.
Granted, they both cannot occupy the top spot simultaneously, but auspicious reasons augur a final run atop the tennis mountain for the greatest sister duo in history.
2012 will be eerily reminiscent of the last decade that saw Venus and Serena take turns winning titles.
Who better to practice against than your sister, who happens to be one of the best females to ever play tennis?
Throughout their lives, Venus and Serena were born and bred by their father to fulfill their destinies as tennis champions.
They grew up competing with one another, rising in synchronized fashion to the top of the pro ranks.
Twenty-three matches at the professional level with each other—not to mention countless hours away from the cameras—reveal a competitive camaraderie.
Undoubtedly, their love and respect for each other has pushed them to their limits as players.
At the same time, one doesn't let the other flounder for too long.
Venus has won 43 career titles; Serena has amassed 39.
They have both won countless accolades and have been involved in matches that tested their will and desire to win.
When someone gets to the pinnacle of their profession, they know exactly what it takes to get there, again.
Serena and Venus—who are no strangers to reminding each other—are aware of the sacrifices, agony and focus necessary to become the poster women of their sport, again, in 2012.
What separates the Williams sisters from their counterparts is the ability to observe themselves from a third part, objective view.
Their work ethic is renowned as two athletes who will stop at nothing to expand their skills on the court.
Without the dedication to work on her game, Venus wouldn't have the footwork, backhand, serves and at-net ingenuity she has. Similarly, Serena wouldn't have the power, stamina, forehand and lobs/slices as part or her arsenal.
In recent years, Venus has bolstered her stamina and Serena has improved her serves. Both don't mind putting in the time and preparation to become as complete as they can be.
After nearly 15 years in the limelight, Venus and Serena are fully aware of the downsides of burning themselves out.
With the arduous schedule that tennis entails—including but not limited to proper nutrition intake, weight training, tape-watching and traveling—a player must pace him or herself.
The goal at the end of the rainbow must be kept in mind—in other words, the bigger picture.
Sometimes players of any sport, in fact, exhaust themselves day in and day out without regard for what lies ahead.
The Williams sisters have their eyes on the prize, knowing precisely when to turn the knob.
The Williams sisters' mentor, confidant, manager, coach and trainer has been their father Richard Williams since day one.
He discerns with a calculating eye in the stands, taking notes and later sharing them with his daughters.
He has pushed, prodded and encouraged the very best out of his children.
As a result, they have become not only tennis, but media superstars whose lives have been forever inscribed in the annals of time.
What separates their father from just any coach is the level of respect, love and attention he (Richard Williams) demands.
He will not sit idly by and watch his greatest creations fall by the wayside.
The two combined have over 1,321 singles matches and over 355 doubles contests between them. That doesn't include the multitude of hours spent honing their skills.
Venus holds 21 Grand Slam titles and her sister Serena proudly displays 27 of them in her home.
One seeming disadvantage the two have against their contemporaries is their age, but the sleight of hand, tricks of the trade and little nuances that make a big difference—picked up from years of experience—offset the the tennis youth of today.
Like the old adage goes, one cannot read about experience; it must be lived through trials, tribulations and obstacles that test one's mettle.
Success doesn't exist without the invaluable experiences that come with failure, which can be manually used—in the form of a choice—to course-correct for the better.
The two have been very conscientious about not overextending themselves. Besides the usual knickknack injuries that befall every athlete, the two were recently diagnosed with illnesses.
Venus has been suffering from Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease, and Serena nearly lost her life to a pulmonary embolism.
Refusing to use the last gallon of their fuel to push ahead of these setbacks as soon as possible, the two have taken it easy, designating their bodies as priority No. 1 and all other pursuits as secondary.
Experience teaches athletes to play within their means—not above them—and to listen to what their bodies tell them even if short-term glory is lost along the way.
It would have been impossible for Venus and Serena to become No. 1 in the world three and five times respectively, without knowing how and when to attack their opponents' on the court.
It became apparent the two had a keen eye for identifying drawbacks in their opponents when Venus defeated Lindsay Davenport in the 2000 Wimbledon final and Serena vanquished Martina Hingis in the final of the 1999 US Open.
Those two aforementioned triumphs were the catalysts for two legacies that burgeoned, matured and intertwined after being on parallel planes for so long.
Tennis is a chess match on a more grandiose scale that requires open eyes, a detached ego in certain instances and deductive reasoning.
Venus and Serena are as smart as they are athletic.
The two sisters have been on a collision course with fate to reclaim their superstar statuses.
For instance, Serena has been climbing the rungs of success, again, by recently defeating Marion Bartoli in the Bank of the West Tournament in July 2011 and making the US Open final in September 2011 against Samantha Stosur.
Venus, who has been sidelined with her ailment, has made similar strides in the last year-and-a-half, ascending as high as No. 2 in May of 2010.
Sports, tennis being no exception, is predicated on forward motion and positive momentum. As long as the two don't suffer further setbacks, they should be primed and ready to stand tall in 2012.
The sisters are not just tennis darlings, they are media powerhouses. Their wide array of endorsements are proof positive of an influence that transcends far beyond tennis parameters.
Such sponsors include Tampax, Gatorade, Nabisco, Ford, Nike, Glam Slam, American Express, Avon, Kraft Foods and Reebok to name a few.
When they're not swinging their rackets, they have been making appearances on E! News, Extra, Access Hollywood and even Oprah.
Their market potential is equal to if not more prominent than the sport they play. One is a commodity; the two in unison are a goldmine that have immensely benefited tennis.
When the two are featured in the spotlight, tennis is much better off for it.
After all, they are living legends with bankable reputations, images and names.