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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Serena and Venus Williams Seek a New Balance of Fame and Distrust

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In last year’s French Open semifinals, Serena Williams met her sister Venus in a decidedly not-entertaining encounter. On Wednesday, they will meet again — this time in a tournament final.

“It’s always going to be a great matchup,” Serena Williams said of the match on a conference call on Tuesday. “I really like the fact that we have that much respect for each other.”

In contrast to the family at play at Roland Garros, tennis’ grand slam title-holders each possess deep reverence for each other. It is something Serena Williams attributes to the respect of their parents, though she says Venus has also cultivated it.

Serena Williams has drawn a bit of flak for her “that’s my sister” comment at the recent US Open, though that is in part a result of the tough spot the Williams sisters found themselves in last year, when both sought out ranking exemptions and possible landing spots in major finals.

Since then, they have begun to enjoy something of a normal family life.

“As a tennis player you go up, go down, and then, of course, family is there to pick you up every now and then,” Venus Williams said. “From a personal point of view, it’s different because we go up and down the rankings, and [my ranking] can go up, go down.”

However, the sisters agreed they would like the mix of wealth and neglect that has tended to accompany professional athletes who cross paths with celebrity.

“Sometimes we are very greedy in tennis, and at the same time we are too insecure,” Serena Williams said. “It’s a tough balance, especially when I want things so bad.”

This can lead to a lot of puffing, particularly about how Serena Williams will approach her semifinal match on Wednesday against Iga Swiatek.

“You can always use that word, ‘bolder,’ ” Serena Williams said, seeming to favor a theme that can run counter to the more polished persona she promotes.

“I do want to be bolder this year, but how do you [have] a bolder game than I can have? I’m already playing phenomenal.”

Said Venus Williams: “If you’re just determined to be great and go as hard as you can, that’s when you’re going to surprise yourself.”

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