After Serena Williams had reduced her to on-court cluelessness, thereby setting the stage for Saturday's All Williams All England women's final at Wimbledon, semifinal loser Amelie Mauresmo pronounced it "a little bit sad for women's tennis. . . . I think people are going to get bored by it. I'm not counting how many people since yesterday told me, 'We don't want a Williams final.' "
A case of sour raisins from the losing Frenchwoman, it seems to us. It's not the Williams sisters' fault that they're so much better than everyone else. And isn't it better for any sport to have two dominant players than, as in men's golf right now, just one? Professional tennis has built its modern fan base, at least in this country, largely on the strength of just such running rivalries: McEnroe-Connors, Evert-Navratilova, Sampras-Agassi.
Still, we've never been confronted with the prospect of a sports rivalry overlaying a sibling rivalry in quite this way, and for fans -- particularly fans who happen to be parents of children who have rivalries of their own -- it's not easy to know how to react. There have been sibling pairs and troikas in baseball and other sports, of course; the dads and moms among us may have spared a moment or two of sympathy for Billy Ripken trying to play in the swallowing shadow of his older brother, and for the Ripken parents trying to say the right thing. ("You'll always be an Iron Man to us, Billy dear.") But never have siblings been so exclusively and intensely alone at the top of their sport: Serena is No. 1, because she's taken the title away from Venus, and if Venus wants to be No. 1 again, she can only do so by dethroning Serena.
So how were we supposed to root? Some of us may prefer the self-contained older sister to the giddy younger, some the reverse; all of us wanted both to play their hearts out -- no fun if they didn't both want to win. And yet we wouldn't really approve of either one if she didn't feel some sadness at seeing her sister lose. Modern parents are taught above all to help their children feel good about themselves and take pride in their own special strengths. Venus and Serena have the same special strength; it's a strength that can be precisely measured in points, games and sets; and only one can be strongest on any given day. If the Mauresmos and Capriatis of the tour don't work harder, we may all need therapy before long.
-- Washington Post
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