Serena Williams vs Venus Williams Head to Head: An Unusual Rivalry

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Paris, 02-06-2010 Serena & Venus WILLIAMS (Usa) Photo RAY GIUBILO

Serena Williams vs Venus Williams current Head to Head: 14-10

There is little doubt that Serena (Player Profile) and Venus Williams (Player Profile) make up the most dominant pairing in the past decade of ladies tennis. Between them, they have won 22 of the last 50 Grand Slam titles, one Olympic singles gold medal, three Olympic doubles gold medals and three WTA Tour Championship titles.

However, the rivalry between the two has always been complicated and burdened with suspicion. Both siblings have a game based around power – winners and aces are commonplace – and rarely do they disappoint. Both crowd favourites, they have wowed fans for over a decade with their dominance. Except against each other.

They have met 23 times – eight of those being Grand Slam finals – and Serena currently leads the head-to-head 13-10. However, despite all the belief and statistics, in reality the rivalry between the two has been fairly one-sided for many years.

By the end of 2001, Venus had won five out of the six matches between the two, and Serena had only won one set against her older sister. While the meetings between the two had not always been the highest quality affairs, it appeared that Serena could not find a way to get past Venus.

All that would change in 2002. The sisters would meet in three of the four Grand Slam finals, proving their overall dominance in the women’s game at the time. Serena would beat her sister in all three of the finals, without dropping a set.

By this time, they had now played each other ten times. However, a common feature was emerging in these encounters – a lack of quality. When the two best players in the world meet, it is natural that fans expect a world-class contest, full of excellent shots. This has never really happened when the two siblings have met.

Generally, they look rather uncomfortably facing up to each other on opposite sides of the court – understandably some might say – but the atmosphere is not one of excitement, rather one of nervousness.

When a tennis player steps out on the court, they must believe that they are going to beat their opponent and bring a really competitive attitude with them. Against your sister, there may be an argument that channelling this intense will to win is far more difficult. Particularly given how close the sisters are, it is as though they have a clash of feelings – naturally wanting to win themselves, but also slightly wanting the other to experience the success.

In the early days, Serena appeared slightly intimidated by her younger sister, but after her ‘Serena Slam’ in 2002/03, there was no more fear. She would go onto win nine of the next fourteen meetings between the two, including all of the last four meetings. The last time that Venus was able to beat Serena was in Dubai in 2009, winning a final set tiebreak in the semi-final. It seems unlikely that she will beat Serena again, given their respective career progression since then.

Throughout their rivalry though, rumours have always swirled that Richard, their father, is responsible for deciding who wins, particularly in the early days. In 2000, particular scrutiny was paid to their meeting at Wimbledon, where it was alleged that Richard ordered Serena to let Venus win in order to maximise their joint earning potential.

Further suspicion was raised the following year when Venus withdrew from an Indian Wells semi-final match against her sister, four minutes before the match was scheduled to start, leading to vitriol from the crowd and allegations of match fixing levelled at the Williams family. Indeed, neither sister has returned to Indian Wells since, with Richard accusing the crowds of overt racism.

There will always be rumours and suspicion surrounding those early matches, but in reality, the allegations are slightly ridiculous and unfounded. The reality is that these contests are highly-charged affairs, but almost always anti-climactic.

There is no doubt that the Williams sisters are the greatest siblings to ever play the game of tennis, and likely that there ever will be. The chance of one family producing multiple Grand Slam-winning siblings is so short that it is almost zero. Separately, they are two of the greatest female players of all-time – Venus has seven Grand Slam titles and 43 titles in all, while Serena has fifteen Grand Slam titles and 45 titles in total.

The only shame is that there has never been a match between the two when they are both playing their very best. The nature of their relationship and their rivalry would appear to prevent this. Regardless, for the drama alone when they meet, it is one of the greatest rivalries in the history of ladies tennis. Two great champions, two great rivals. But at the end, two great sisters.

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