| Serena Williams with her trophy at Wimbledon Saturday
To that famous sports lexicon of ABC television that gave us the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, we must now add a new emotion: the confusion of watching a tennis match between the Williams sisters.
I have just watched for two hours and three minutes as Serena beat Venus for her second consecutive Wimbledon title. I am puzzled. I am supposed to be supplying answers for readers, and I have only questions.
Why is there no passion out there' Is this not the Wimbledon final' They met at the net at the end like this was Memphis in February. As NBC commentator Mary Carillo said, “Wherever you are at home, you are having a better time than these two.”
Yes, I know Venus was hurt. Nobody questions that. And yes, I know it must be a tough deal to play against your sister and best friend. But this was the 12th time they’ve done this now, and, as commentator John Lloyd said afterward: “None of their matches against each other have been brilliant.”
Wouldn’t the law of averages get you at least one or two, especially since these are two of the more brilliant talents ever to play the game' Why shouldn’t this be, by now, the female equivalent of Sampras-Agassi' Instead of fire and ice, why do we get only ice'
Saturday, there were so many moments of brilliance, so many times when they matched groundstrokes and speed and went at each other at such a high level that it was inspiring. But there were just as many times that the service speed unexplainably slipped — Serena hit one 67 miles an hour — and easy forehands and backhands floated long or settled softly and uncharacteristically into the net.
How can the level of play be on such a roller coaster, sometimes in the same game'
Again, everybody knew Venus was injured, but was she any more injured than when she rallied to win a third set in the semi-finals against the No. 2 player in the world, Kim Clijsters' There was plenty of fire in that one, and the injury was new then.
How is it possible, with players of these skills and this calibre, to play a Wimbledon final where serve is broken seven times in the first 15 games'
And no, I’m not suggesting anything was pre-arranged. Their matches are almost too quirky even to consider any level of orchestration. I am talking inconsistency and unpredictability, not premeditation. This match had the flow of a bottle of syrup.
Is it possible that what should be so great for tennis is, instead, so impossible' Is it simply too much to expect two sisters to be able to achieve a level of passion and emotion for winning that is the norm at a place like Wimbledon when, as sisters, they can manage that passion and emotion only for each other'
Did this strange and uneven match, right here on the greatest stage the game has, stem from a spring night in California two years ago' Was this the Williams family’s answer to Indian Wells in March 2001, when Venus defaulted to Serena, citing a tendinitis condition, minutes before the sisters were to play a semi-final, and Serena was roundly booed at the start of her final against Clijsters the next day'
In her news conference here Saturday, Venus hinted at that. “Serena and I have been blamed for a lot of things that never have happened,” she said. “I think everybody is quite familiar with the history. So today was a good effort. And I wanted to play. I mean, I had to at least show up and go out on the court.”
So, was the purpose of Saturday’s match to win at tennis, or at public relations' And if the answer is public relations, doesn’t trumpeting your spin afterward ruin the desired outcome' So here I am, still confused.
What was Saturday’s breakfast at Wimbledon all about' Was there a real chance that Venus could have won despite her injury, or was the main purpose of playing to stick it to all the critics' And hasn’t the Indian Wells issue been dead for a long time now, anyway'
Or was this as simple as knowing that the tradition of Wimbledon dictates that you play, even if you are on your death-bed'
We know things are seldom simple when the Williams sisters play each other. Let’s just adopt confusion as the accepted state of mind.