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Serena and Venus Williams’ Tennis Rivalry Spanned Decades — Their Sisterhood Always Came First

Gracious Egedegbe
Jan 16, 2022
02:00 A.M.
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Tennis legends Serena and her sister Venus were rivals for many years. However, their competition during games never got in the way of their sisterhood, and here is a look at the two legends' beautiful bond.

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The history of tennis can not be discussed without mentioning Serena and Venus Williams. These two legends rose to fame at a young age and have long since established their names in the world of sports.

Serena and Venus immediately dominated tennis, creating an unmatched record since they began playing professionally in 1994 and 1995, respectively.

Serena and Venus Williams hug each other after a tennis match [Left] | Serena and Venus Williams in a photo with their dad at a young age. [Right] | Photo: Getty Images

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However, while the William sisters transitioned from champions to veterans, they remained unchanged in their devotion to one another. Their sister bond only grew more potent in the years that passed.

WHO IS SERENA?

American professional tennis player Serena is the youngest of five children. She started training as a toddler, and since she began playing tennis professionally, the athlete has remained at the top in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) countless times.

Serena won her first major championship in 1999 and has since won 23 Grand Slam singles titles. In addition, she teamed with her sister, Venus Williams, to win a series of doubles titles along with her achievements. 

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Venus Williams looks at father Richard hugging Serena after the Ladies’ Singles final match at Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships on July 7, 2012, in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images

WHO IS VENUS?

Venus, who became a pro in 1994, has been a champion on different levels in tennis. She is the recipient of seven Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal in singles play. She also won several double titles teaming up with sister Serena.

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When Venus was 10, her serve topped one hundred miles per hour, a weapon that made her go 63-0 on the United States Tennis Association junior tour.

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In her first match, the Williams sister showed her unique skill when she defeated 50-seeded Shaun Stafford at the Bank of the West Classic in California.

In 1997, Venus became the first unseeded U.S. Open women's finalist in the Open era. In 2000, she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, which paved the way for her to sign a $40 million contract with Reebok.

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In the same year, Venus also won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Serena and Venus have won numerous awards since they began playing professionally.

However, they couldn't have achieved the fame and fortune they are known for without the help of their father, Richard, a former sharecropper who had been training them since they were toddlers.

Although parenting and working is no easy task, Serena has the support of her older sister, Venus.

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DAD'S UNORTHODOX METHOD

Inspired by watching Virginia Ruzici receive $20,000 for winning the French Open in 1978, Serena and Venus's dad Richard formed a 78-page plan for his daughters to have a better life.

Despite having no formal training aside from the tennis magazine and videos he saw, the older Williams believed in his abilities. Richard and his wife, Oracene, groomed their daughters for a tennis career from a very young age.

Once speaking on the father who not only quit his job to coach his daughters but also danced and held up signs to cheer them, Kamau Murray — who coached another Black tennis star, Sloane Stephens — talked about how smart he was.

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In "King Richard," a movie that documents how Richard got his girls away from the street of Campton and made them tennis champions, the dad's fierce side is displayed.

However, in contrast to preparing his children for the spotlight, Richard is also quite protective. Speaking on the movie and Richard's role as a father, director Reinaldo Marcus Green said in an interview:

"I think Richard was ahead of his time[...]He did things that were unorthodox..."

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ON THE WILLIAMS SISTERS

Although Venus and Serena took over the spotlight as tennis pros, Venus first made the Williams name famous. She started playing professionally and was later joined by her little sister Serena, who undoubtedly copied her style. 

When Serena started playing, she came with such force as her sister, but it turned out all that mattered to the little Serena was emulating her big sister.

So when the athlete was asked about copying Venus's style during the 2012 documentary "Venus and Serena," she confirmed copying almost everything.

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Serena, now 40, loved and wanted the same things as her big sister. Even Venus's favorite color and animal were not excluded. She also noted that she wanted to win Wimbledon, just like Venus.

However, from becoming global champions to veterans, the two athletes also transitioned into rivals. This famous sister's battle on the court lasted for over 23 years of their acclaimed careers.

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WILLIAMS SISTERS RIVALRY

The Williams siblings have broken some records in tennis history, and their long-standing rivalry reflects their record-breaking careers. Serena once said coming head-to-head only makes them play better.

While many fans of the tennis megastars know them for their many awards and unique skills, only a few are aware of their rivalry, which dated as far back as 1998 during the second round of the Australian Open.

Their head-to-head battle continued in the 2000s and became more intense in 2008-2009 when they played nine times in two years.

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Serena and Venus became the first siblings to compete for a Grand Slam single Open Era while playing in the 2001 U.S. Open championship match.

When the sisters first played against each other in 1998, Venus defeated Serena. Venus dominated their rivalry for many years. However, after 2001, Serena became the best player in the world.

However, despite the famous sisters' decades of clashes, they have formed a rare bond that no one seemed capable of breaking. These best friends live a different life away from the screen.

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SISTERHOOD

While Venus and Serena are similar, the two have pretty different personalities. Venus is notably big on traveling, and she enjoys touring the world.

In 2019, the athlete found herself on four continents, eight countries, and 30 cities. The 41-year-old tennis star once sat in an interview to talk about her experiences traveling.

Venus confirmed they always go for trips when asked if she still travels with Serena as they did during tennis tournaments. She also added that there was usually not enough time to tour the new location; however, they did explore Paris during the 2019 French Open.

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LIVING TOGETHER 

Serena and Venus are so close they even lived together for a while, and when they decided to live apart, these sisters remained neighbors. However, they remained like housemates despite not living under the same roof.

Once during a joint interview with the sisters, Venus said she had all the food in her house, so Serena visited every night for dinner. Serena, for her part, revealed she took showers at Venus's home, sometimes dressed up there after practice.

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SERENA AND VENUS IN RECENT YEARS

Serena is married to technology entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian. She has a daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Since becoming a mother, Serena has opened up about her struggle keeping up with work and parenting.

She once acknowledged all mothers who work all day and go home to look after their babies, saying she can't imagine being in such a situation. However, Serena is grateful her career gives her the chance to spend quality time with her daughter.

Although parenting and working is no easy task, Serena has the support of her older sister Venus, who enjoys being an aunt.

Venus is not married neither does she have any kid of her own, but she loves being an aunt to Olympia. The 41-year-old athlete once said her being an aunt was an easy job.

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