Williams sisters rivalry
Venus Williams and Serena Williams (born June 17, 1980, and September 26, 1981, respectively) are professional tennis players and sisters who have faced off 28 times in professional tournaments, most recently in the final of the 2017 Australian Open on 28 January 2017, where Serena claimed a history-making 23rd grand slam. Serena leads their rivalry 17–11.
Both Williams sisters have been ranked World No. 1: Venus for a total of 11 weeks, beginning in February 2002; Serena for a total of 316 weeks, beginning in July 2002.
The Williams sisters are the only two women during the open era to play each other in four consecutive Grand Slam finals: from the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open. Serena won all four of these finals.
Venus has won 49 singles titles over the course of her career, and Serena has won 72.
Although the rivalry is long established, and is very fierce in competition, the two sisters remain personally very close. They have won 22 titles when playing doubles together, including 14 Grand Slam titles and 3 Olympic gold medals.
- 1 History
- 2 Analysis
- 3 List of all matches
- 4 Exhibitions
- 5 Grand Slam Performance timeline
- 6 Year-end WTA ranking timeline
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Serena and Venus Williams played their first professional match against each other in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open. Venus won 7–6(4), 6–1. The match was described as "subpar". They played again in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open, the first clay court tournament of Serena's career, which Venus won 6–4, 6–2. Together they won two doubles titles.
Their next match was almost a year later in the final of the 1999 Lipton International Players Championships in Key Biscayne, Florida. Serena was coming off her first two tournament titles, but Venus won the match 6–1, 4–6, 6–4. The match was the first singles final between sisters on the WTA tour and was described by their father as a "bullfight". Serena won her first professional singles match against Venus later that year in the final of the Grand Slam Cup. Serena was coming off her first Grand Slam championship at the US Open and defeated her elder sister, and defending champion, 6–1, 3–6, 6–3. Venus was the only top player up to this point that Serena had not yet defeated. Together, they won three doubles titles, two of them being majors; French Open & U.S Open.
Entering their next match in the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2000 (their first match against each other on grass), Serena was the favorite. However, the victory went to Venus 6–2, 7–6(3), who would go on to win the Wimbledon trophy for her first Grand Slam singles title. They teamed up to win the Wimbledon doubles title and later the Olympic gold medal. Venus's career advantage now stood at 4–1.
They started out the year by winning the Australian Open doubles title.
In the spring at the Tennis Masters Series in Indian Wells, California, amid controversy Venus withdrew before her scheduled semifinal match against Serena. The Williams family was accused of match-fixing, but the accusation was dismissed by most, including Andre Agassi who called it "ridiculous". Serena won the final against Kim Clijsters amid boos, during both the match and the subsequent trophy presentation.
The only match between the Williams sisters during 2001 occurred in the final of the US Open, where they had never met but where both had previously won singles titles. This was the first final involving sisters at a Grand Slam tournament during the open era and the first since the Watson sisters played in the 1884 Wimbledon final. This match has been described as arguably "the most-anticipated tennis final in years". However, nerves seem to have played a factor in the match, which was won easily by Venus 6–2, 6–4. Noted journalist Peter Bodo has said that this first Grand Slam final played between the Williams sisters was "really a pretty lousy match,... even though it was a great performance by the winner." With the victory, Venus now led their rivalry 5–1 and in Grand Slam singles titles 4–1.
Venus and Serena would play each other four times in 2002. In addition to being the most times they had met in a single year, this would also mark the first time that Serena would end the season with a leading head-to-head, 4–0.
Their first meeting of the year occurred in the semifinals at the NASDAQ-100 Open. Serena won the match 6–2, 6–2, only the second victory over her sister in her career and the first since 1999. Venus's loss was described as "listless" and it ended her streak of 22 consecutive matches and three consecutive titles at the event.
Their next meeting was their second in a Grand Slam final, but their first on clay courts. At Roland Garros Serena beat Venus in a "tight" match 7–5, 6–3. The Grand Slam was the first for Serena in three years, and it was the first final at the French Open ever played by sisters. By reaching the final, Venus and Serena assured themselves of moving up to first and second in the world rankings, respectively.
One month later, the Williams sisters again met in a Grand Slam final, at Wimbledon. Again, Serena was the victor 7–6(4), 6–3 and the win moved Serena past her sister to the top of the rankings. Venus still led 5–4 in their head-to-head and 4–3 in Grand Slams, but it was now Serena who was seen as the player "now setting the agenda for women's tennis". They won the doubles title together.
Their fourth and last match of the year occurred in the final at the US Open, in a match where the victor would take not only the trophy but the No.1 ranking as well. Serena won the match 6–4, 6–3 with a "blistering" display of tennis.
The first match of 2003 contested between the Williams sisters was the first final between the two players at the Australian Open but the fourth consecutive at the majors. Serena won the match 7–6(4), 3–6, 6–4, the closest contested match between them since 1999. The win completed what has become popularly known as the "Serena Slam"; Serena Williams became the first player since Steffi Graf to hold all four Grand Slams at the same time. In addition Venus Williams became the first player since Martina Hingis in 1997 to make four consecutive Grand Slam finals, and the sisters together became the first players in the open era to contest four consecutive finals at the majors. Together they won the doubles title.
This consistent play at recent Grand Slams led some to remark that the Williams sisters had a stranglehold on women's tennis.
The Williams sisters next met in the 2003 Wimbledon final, a repeat of the 2002 final in the same tournament. Again the match was close but Serena, aided by an abdominal injury that negatively impacted Venus's speed, won 4–6, 6–4, 6–2. The win was the second consecutive at Wimbledon for Serena and her fifth out the last six. Additionally, the Williams sisters collectively had now won the last four Wimbledon titles and seven of the last nine Grand Slams. Serena Williams had now won their last six consecutive meetings, and led the head-to-head 7–5.
The Wimbledon final was the last Grand Slam final contested between the two for five years. Both sisters would be knocked off the tour by injuries, and then have to contend with the death of Yetunde Price, their half sister.
Venus and Serena Williams did not meet in a professional tennis match during 2004, a year which saw neither sister win a Grand Slam for the first time since 1998. 2005 would be a return to Grand Slam victory for both of the Williams sisters, but in perhaps a sign of the increased competition neither of their championships were decided against each other.
Their first match of 2005 was in the quarterfinals of the NASDAQ-100 Open, their third career meeting at the tournament. The match was won by Venus Williams 6–1, 7–6(8); it was the first meeting outside of a final between the two in three years and was the first win by the elder Williams sister in four years.
The Williams sisters next met on one of the largest stages in tennis, the US Open, though much earlier in the tournament than they were accustomed to. Venus, as the recent Wimbledon champion and after three "magnificent efforts" to reach this round was perhaps favored in a Williams head-to-head for the first time in a few years . In the fourth round (their earliest meeting in a Grand Slam since their very first at the 1998 Australian Open) Venus Williams won 7–6(5), 6–2. Venus would lose in the quarterfinals 4–6 7–5 6–1 to eventual champion Kim Clijsters, the first time since the 1998 Rome meeting that the winner of a Williams sisters match-up did not win the title.
At the close of the year, after the first year since 2000 in which Serena was unable to win a match against her older sister, Venus Williams had now tied the head-to-head 7–7.
The first meeting in 2008 between the sisters occurred at the Canara Bank Bangalore Open, their first meeting in a Tier II event. The only match between the sisters to end in a third-set tiebreak, both Venus and Serena were, according to commentator and former player Tracy Austin "busting a gut to win". The match end in a 6–3, 3–6, 7–6(4) victory for Serena.
Venus and Serena next met on a familiar stage, Wimbledon; the match was their fourth meeting on the grass courts and their third final. The match featured "big hitting and big serving" as well as "some wonderful defense and court coverage". Testament to the fact that this was arguably the best Williams sisters match to date, former player and commentator John McEnroe has called the match "borderline classic". Venus won the match 7–5, 6–4. They teamed up to win the doubles title and later a second Olympic Gold Medal together.
At the US Open, fourth seeded Serena defeated seventh seeded Venus in the quarterfinals 7–6(6), 7–6(7) and eventually won the tournament. Tennis Magazine proclaimed the match the best women's singles match of 2008. The final match-up of the year between the Williams sisters was during the round robin phase of the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, with Venus winning 5–7, 6–1, 6–0. This was the first 6–0 set in their matchups.
At the end of 2008, their career head-to-head record was tied 9–9.
The Williams' first match of year 2009 was at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, where they met in the semifinals. In a match that was described as a "thriller" by CNN, Venus prevailed 6–1, 2–6, 7–6(3). Serena was dogged by a knee injury in the third set, but did not excuse herself because of this, and Venus said that the match had been worthy of a final. Simon Reed, writing for Eurosport, said that the rivalry had become "greater now than it ever has been" in the previous three or four matches, due to the increased emotional intensity that the matches appeared to stir up in the players, which he believed had been lacking in the earlier part of their careers. Venus and Serena next played in the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open in April. Serena won the match 6–4, 3–6, 6–3, temporarily secured her World No. 1 ranking, and tied their head-to-head record at ten wins apiece. The two reached the final of the 2009 Wimbledon Championships for both singles and doubles. Serena won the singles title for the first time in six years, beating Venus 7–6(3), 6–2. They met for the fourth time in the year during the round robin phase of the year-ending 2009 Sony Ericsson Championships, with Serena winning 5–7, 6–4, 7–6(4) saving match point. They met again in the final of the tournament with Serena winning again by a score of 6–2, 7–6(4). The head-to-head now stood at 13–10 in favor of Serena, who has also won the last four meetings.
Due to a mixture of injury and illness the pair did not face each other again until the 2013 Family Circle Cup. It was their first matchup on clay since the 2002 French Open final. Serena won her fifth consecutive match against Venus. Venus and Serena's 25th encounter came in the semi-finals of the 2014 Rogers Cup. Serena went into the match with a five consecutive match winning streak against her older sister. However, Venus won the match 6(2)-7, 6–2, 6–3, making the sisters' head to head record at 14–11 in favor of Serena. Venus increased her Premier Mandatory/Premier 5 record against Serena to 5–2 and her semi-final record against her sister to 3–4.
After a period of six years, the pair met in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2015 - their first meeting in a grand slam event since Wimbledon 2009. It was the pair's sixth meeting at Wimbledon. Serena won the match by a score of 6–4, 6–3, making the sisters' head to head record 15–11 in Serena's favor and 4–2 in Wimbledon again in favor of Serena. They met again in the quarterfinals of the US Open, where Serena won, taking the head to head to 16–11 in her favor.
The sisters renewed their grand slam rivalry in the Australian Open final. Serena won her seventh Australian Open title, and 23rd Grand Slam title overall, defeating Venus 6-4, 6-4. The win also allowed Serena to pass Steffi Graf's 22 grand slam singles titles.
This section analyzes the rivalry in regards to their professional and personal relationship, how their entwined careers and rivalry has affected their legacy, and the overall cultural impact of the rivalry.
Relationship and competitive dynamic
The professional relationship and dynamic between Venus and Serena Williams is deeply affected by their close personal relationship. The notion of two top professionals emerging from the same family to compete against one another is unprecedented, and is a scenario which has been described as being "as improbable as one set of parents raising Picasso and Monet." After Serena's big wins over Venus' only finals at the 2003 Australian Open and the 2002 French Open, journalists said "Clearly Venus has a 'big sister complex' towards Serena". Peter Bodo, further speaking to the unlikeliness of siblings contesting Grand Slam finals, states "It's a common occurrence that will cease to be possible, perhaps ever again, the moment they set the sticks aside."
The dynamic between family members can often be intense and emotionally charged. 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert has said of facing her sister Jeanne Evert, "It was the worst feeling ever. We were both very competitive and Jeanne wanted to kill me. We couldn't even look at each other. We just played the balls and wanted to win and then get off the court and not deal with it."
The all-Williams final at the 2001 US Open drew a larger television audience than the Notre Dame-Nebraska college football game being broadcast at the same time. In fact, part of the reason that the women's final at the US Open was moved to its "prime time" spot was because of the positive effect that the Williams sisters had on television ratings. CBS's four highest-rated US Open women's finals of the last decade all involved the Williams sisters.
The Williams legacy can also arguably be seen in the increased representation of African Americans among tennis professionals and new players, though their representation among professionals still remains small. A third of all new players at the grass-roots level are either African American or Hispanic, a fact to which the USTA's president Jane Brown Grimes says, "I can't help but think that Venus and Serena are drivers behind that".
List of all matches
|Winner — Legend|
|Grand Slam tournaments (15)|
|WTA Tour Championships (3)|
|Grand Slam Cup (1)|
|Premier Mandatory & Premier 5 (7)|
Serena Williams–Venus Williams (17 – 11)
|No.||Year||Tournament Name||Tournament Location||Surface||Round||Winner||Score|
|1.||1998||Australian Open (1)||Melbourne, Australia||Hard||Second||Venus||7–6(4), 6–1|
|2.||1999||Italian Open (1)||Rome, Italy||Clay (red)||Quarterfinal||Venus||6–4, 6–2|
|3.||1999||Lipton International Players Championships (1)||Key Biscayne, Florida, U.S.||Hard||Final||Venus||6–1, 4–6, 6–4|
|4.||1999||Grand Slam Cup (1)||Munich, Germany||Carpet (I)||Final||Serena||6–1, 3–6, 6–3|
|5.||2000||The Championships (1)||Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom||Grass||Semifinal||Venus||6–2, 7–6(3)|
|—||2001||Indian Wells Masters (1)||Indian Wells, California, U.S.||Hard||Semifinal||Serena||Walkover|
|6.||2001||US Open (1)||New York City, New York, U.S.||Hard||Final||Venus||6–2, 6–4|
|7.||2002||NASDAQ-100 Open (2)||Key Biscayne, Florida, U.S.||Hard||Semifinal||Serena||6–2, 6–2|
|8.||2002||French Open (1)||Paris, France||Clay (red)||Final||Serena||7–5, 6–3|
|9.||2002||The Championships (2)||Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom||Grass||Final||Serena||7–6(4), 6–3|
|10.||2002||US Open (2)||New York City, New York, U.S.||Hard||Final||Serena||6–4, 6–3|
|11.||2003||Australian Open (2)||Melbourne, Australia||Hard||Final||Serena||7–6(4), 3–6, 6–4|
|12.||2003||The Championships (3)||Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom||Grass||Final||Serena||4–6, 6–4, 6–2|
|13.||2005||NASDAQ-100 Open (3)||Key Biscayne, Florida, U.S.||Hard||Quarterfinal||Venus||6–1, 7–6(8)|
|14.||2005||US Open (3)||New York City, New York, U.S.||Hard||Fourth||Venus||7–6(5), 6–2|
|15.||2008||Bangalore Open (1)||Bangalore, India||Hard||Semifinal||Serena||6–3, 3–6, 7–6(4)|
|16.||2008||The Championships (4)||Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom||Grass||Final||Venus||7–5, 6–4|
|17.||2008||US Open (4)||New York City, New York, U.S.||Hard||Quarterfinal||Serena||7–6(6), 7–6(7)|
|18.||2008||Sony Ericsson Championships (1)||Doha, Qatar||Hard||Round Robin||Venus||5–7, 6–1, 6–0|
|19.||2009||Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships (1)||Dubai, United Arab Emirates||Hard||Semifinal||Venus||6–1, 2–6, 7–6(3)|
|20.||2009||Sony Ericsson Open (4)||Key Biscayne, Florida, U.S.||Hard||Semifinal||Serena||6–4, 3–6, 6–3|
|21.||2009||The Championships (5)||Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom||Grass||Final||Serena||7–6(3), 6–2|
|22.||2009||Sony Ericsson Championships (2)||Doha, Qatar||Hard||Round Robin||Serena||5–7, 6–4, 7–6(4)|
|23.||2009||Sony Ericsson Championships (3)||Doha, Qatar||Hard||Final||Serena||6–2, 7–6(4)|
|24.||2013||Family Circle Cup (1)||Charleston, U.S.||Clay (green)||Semifinal||Serena||6–1, 6–2|
|25.||2014||Rogers Cup (1)||Montreal, Quebec, Canada||Hard||Semifinal||Venus||6–7(2), 6–2, 6–3|
|26.||2015||The Championships (6)||Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom||Grass||Fourth||Serena||6–4, 6–3|
|27.||2015||US Open (5)||New York City, New York, U.S.||Hard||Quarterfinal||Serena||6–2, 1–6, 6–3|
|28.||2017||Australian Open (3)||Melbourne, Australia||Hard||Final||Serena||6–4, 6–4|
Breakdown of the rivalry
- Hard courts: Serena 10–8
- Clay courts: Serena, 2–1
- Grass courts: Serena, 4–2
- Carpet: Serena, 1–0
- Grand Slam matches: Serena, 10–5
- Grand Slam finals: Serena, 7–2
- Year-End Championships matches: Serena, 2–1
- Year-End Championships finals: Serena, 1–0
- All finals: Serena, 9–3
|No.||Year||Tournament Name||Tournament Location||Surface||Round||Winners||Losers||Score|
|1.||1998||French Open (1)||Paris, France||Clay||Final||Venus
Singles (Venus–Serena 10–5)
|No.||Year||Tournament Name||Tournament Location||Surface||Round||Winner||Score|
|1.||2001||J.P. Morgan Chase Tennis Challenge||Delray Beach, Florida, U.S.||Outdoor Hard||Serena||7–6(4), 6–4|
|2.||2004||McDonald's Williams Sisters Tour||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.||Indoor Hard||Round Robin||Venus||6–3, 6–4|
|3.||2004||McDonald's Williams Sisters Tour||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.||Indoor Hard||Round Robin||Venus||6–4, 7–5|
|4.||2004||McDonald's Williams Sisters Tour||Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.||Indoor Hard||Round Robin||Venus||6–3, 2–6, 6–3|
|5.||2005||McDonald's Williams Sisters Tour||Seattle, Washington, U.S.||Indoor Hard||Round Robin||Serena||6–4, 6–3|
|6.||2005||McDonald's Williams Sisters Tour||Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.||Indoor Hard||Round Robin||Venus||6–4, 6–4|
|7.||2005||McDonald's Williams Sisters Tour||Washington, D.C., U.S.||Indoor Hard||Round Robin||Venus||6–3, 6–4|
|8.||2006||McDonald's Williams Sisters Tour||Denver, Colorado, U.S.||Indoor Hard||Round Robin||Serena||7–5, 6–3|
|9.||2006||McDonald's Williams Sisters Tour||New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.||Indoor Hard||Round Robin||Venus||5–7, 6–4, 10–6|
|10.||2006||McDonald's Williams Sisters Tour||Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.||Indoor Hard||Round Robin||Venus||6–3, 6–4|
|11.||2009||Billie Jean King Cup||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Indoor Hard||Final||Serena||6–4, 6–3|
|12.||2011||Medellin Exhibition||Medellin, Colombia||Red Clay||–||Venus||6–4, 7–6(5)|
|13.||2012||Breaking The Mould||Lagos, Nigeria||Hard||–||Venus||6–4, 7–5|
|14.||2012||Breaking The Mould||Johannesburg, South Africa||Indoor Hard||–||Serena||6–3, 6–4|
|15.||2013||Buenos Aires Exhibition||Buenos Aires, Argentina||Red Clay||–||Venus||7–6(6), 6–2|
|No.||Year||Tournament Name||Tournament Location||Surface||Round||Winners||Losers||Score|
|1.||1999||Super Power Challenge Cup||Hong Kong||Hard||Semifinal||Serena Williams
Lillian Lin Ning
|7–6(2), 3–6, 6–3|
|2.||2002||JP Morgan Tennis Challenge||Delray Beach, Florida, U.S.||Hard||Venus Williams
|3.||2003||JP Morgan Tennis Challenge||Naples, Florida, U.S.||Hard||Serena Williams
|4.||2004||Lexus Tennis Challenge||Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.||Hard||Venus Williams
Grand Slam Performance timeline
Combined singles performance timeline (best result)
Year-end WTA ranking timeline
- ESPN.com Tennis: Women's Grand Slam Title Winners
- It's Venus Who Takes Care of Family Matter
- Sibling Revelry
- WTA Tour Website: Serena Williams Bio Page Archived February 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- WTA Tour Website: Venus Williams Bio Page Archived February 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Williams Showdown: Venus Beats Sister Serena
- Serena Steals Slam From Venus
- Venus beats Serena to face Davenport in Final
- Is something awry in Venus-Serena rivalry?
- It's Venus, Serena at love
- Venus beats little sister for U.S. Open title
- "Interview with Peter Bodo"
- "Serena beats sister in semi-final"
- "Serena tops Venus for French Open title; Nestor and Knowles drop final"
- "She's no longer just the younger sister of Venus : Serena comes into her own"
- "Serena beats Venus to take US Open crown"
- "Agassi steals show; Serena's Slam overshadowed in Melbourne"
- "Serena Wins Wimbledon"
- "Williams prevails in epic battle"
- "WTA Tour Website: Venus Williams Bio Page" Archived February 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Another Sister Act: Venus, Serena advance to 4th round showdown."
- "Centre Court belongs to Venus"
- "Venus defeats Serena in Dubai semi thriller". CNN. 2009-02-21. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
- Simon Reed (2009-03-06). "Simon Reed: Sisters, friends... bitter rivals". Eurosport, Yahoo!. Retrieved 2009-03-06.[dead link]
- Serena beats Venus to reach Miami final
- "Serena Williams Is Making Sister Rivalry One-Sided"
- "Be grateful Williams sisters rivalry is intensifying "
- Dreaming of a day the sisters really hit out
- "Venus and Serena acing Tiger in important legacy department"
- "Prime time for women’s Open final"
- "Venus, Serena reclaiming their dominance"
- Venus and Serena acing Tiger in important legacy department
- "Williams sisters' impact on tennis becoming apparent."