The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Routine affair

London: A few jokes over breakfast, a light warm-up, then in the afternoon another Grand Slam final. Be it New York, London, Paris or London it’s all becoming something of a family ritual for Venus and Serena Williams.

Saturday’s Wimbledon women’s singles final is incredibly the sixth time the siblings have met head on for a Grand Slam crown since Venus beat Serena at Flushing Meadows in 2001.

That victory for 23-year-old Venus marked a turning point, however. Up to that day Venus held the bragging rights over her younger sister, winning five of the seven matches between them.

She always said, however, that Serena would one day be better than her, and those sentiments have come home to roost.

Serena has now triumphed five times in a row, completing her “Serena Slam” against Venus at the Australian Open in January — the only major final between them to go to three sets — having beaten her comfortably in the US Open, Wimbledon and French finals last year.

Such was Serena’s dominance that even father Richard suggested that Venus had lost her younger sister’s appetite for a scrap — Venus it seemed possibly had her mind on other things, namely the fashion industry.

Anybody watching her gutsy semi-final victory over Kim Clijsters, however, would have seen that the competitive instincts burn as brightly as ever.

Doubled up at times with a stomach injury, Venus refused to roll over and by the end of the encounter was playing with the aggression that has bagged her four Grand Slam titles.

Whatever Venus’ physical state, she said she will definitely play on Saturday. How Serena would react knowing her sister was playing in pain, is the topic of many conversations, but Venus is expecting no favours.

“I’ll definitely be there even if I’m not 100 per cent fit,” Venus said after beating Clijsters.

Serena, fresh from winning her grudge match with Justine Henin-Hardenne, is clearly delighted to have her sister for company again in a final, but determined to stay on top.

With four of the last five Grand Slam titles in her locker, the world No.1 spot safe and her sister suffering with an injury, one might think Serena could spare the odd defeat.

However, that would be underestimating her fierce desire to beat everything in front of her to oblivion, even if it is her own flesh and blood.

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