Serena hails Venus' resurgence ahead of possible clash in final

Serena (right) and sister Venus waving after defeating Slovenia's Andreja Klepac and Katarina Srebotnik 7-5, 6-3 in their Wimbledon doubles first-round match. Two more wins later, they are in the last eight.
Serena (right) and sister Venus waving after defeating Slovenia's Andreja Klepac and Katarina Srebotnik 7-5, 6-3 in their Wimbledon doubles first-round match. Two more wins later, they are in the last eight.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Serena Williams admits she is shocked to be on the verge of meeting sister Venus in the Wimbledon final seven years after they last slugged it out for a Grand Slam title.

For the first time since 2009, both Serena and Venus have made it to the Wimbledon singles semi-finals and the All England Club is abuzz with nostalgic chatter about the potential for a surprise showdown between the American stars in Saturday's final.

To make the dream match-up become a reality, defending champion Serena must beat Russian world No. 50 Elena Vesnina today, while world No. 8 Venus needs to overcome Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.

Between 2000 and 2010, Serena and Venus won a combined nine Wimbledon titles and made a total of 14 final appearances, with four of those being all-Williams affairs in 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009.

But in 2011, Venus was afflicted by Sjogren's syndrome - an illness that causes fatigue and joint pain - that slowed down her career.

Now, at an age when most of her contemporaries have long since called it quits, the 36-year-old has willed herself back into contention for an eighth Grand Slam crown.

It is a renaissance that makes Serena proud, but even the 34-year-old did not expect to still be in with a chance of contesting one of tennis' top prizes with her sister at this advanced stage of their careers.

"I'm surprised at the longevity of it. That kind of took me by surprise," Serena said.

"When you're younger and you have a dream and you say it and you believe it, that's one thing. But for it to really happen and to come true, it's just a completely different emotion.

"It means Venus has a lot of perseverance. She's a real fighter. Like I always say, it's super inspiring for me."

World No. 1 Serena appears to have the easier draw against Vesnina, having won all four of their previous encounters. Five-time champion Venus has a much tougher task against Kerber, who holds a 3-2 advantage.

"I played against her a lot of tough matches. She's always dangerous on grass. She has a lot of confidence right now," said Kerber.

"But I'm playing really high-class tennis. I will try to play aggressive."

If Vesnina beats Serena, it would count as one of the all-time great upsets, but the 29-year-old sounds more like an adoring fan than a player who believes she can spring a surprise.

"Serena, admire her. She's the best player in the world. It will be a big challenge for me," said the Russian.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Serena hails Venus' resurgence ahead of possible clash in final'. Print Edition | Subscribe