Peyton versus Eli Manning. Tiki versus Ronde Barber. John versus Jim Harbaugh.
These sets of siblings have garnered vast publicity around the football world throughout the duration of their careers; the Mannings come from a family deemed one of the greatest in the history of the sport and the Harbaughs quickly made headlines after leading their respective clubs to Super Bowl XLVII.
But the greatest siblings in the history of sports are not even brothers – that title goes to Venus and Serena Williams.
At a young age, the stars attended the well-renowned Rick Macci Tennis Academy in Florida until their father pulled them out to further coach them intensively on his own. By the time the sisters became established pro stars during the early 2000s, their rivalry drew massive ratings.
Having two elite athletes from the same household is uncommon. Former New York Times writer Selena Roberts once characterized it “as improbable as one set of parents raising Picasso and Monet.”
The paramount match between the sisters came during the 2001 U.S. Open final, which was described as the most-anticipated tennis final in years. The all-Williams matchup drew a larger television audience than a Notre Dame-Nebraska football game that aired simultaneously. Venus won the match in two sets (6-2, 6-4).
Starting in 1999, the current head-to-head record between the Williams’ is 14-10 in favor of younger sister Serena. They have met in eight Grand Slam tournament finals (Serena also leads this series 6-2). Both of the Williams sisters have ranked No. 1 in the world in their careers; Venus held the top spot for 11 weeks while Serena has held it for 130 weeks. In total singles matches, the sisters have 105 titles combined (Serena 60, Venus 45).
As tightly contested as their one-on-one matches have been, they have competed side by side numerous times; Venus and Serena have won 21 doubles titles overall including 13 Grand Slams titles and 3 Olympic Gold Medals.
These statistics are not presented as a history lesson, but rather the eye-opening reality that Venus and Serena have carried American tennis for fifteen years.
Of the four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open), no American women outside of the Williams sisters have taken home trophies; Jennifer Capriati was the last to do so back in 2002 at the Australian Open.
There have been other successful female stars from the States ranging from the legendary Billie Jean King (winner of 12 career Grand Slam singles titles) to Capriati and Lindsey Davenport (winners of five Grand Slams combined), but the Williams sisters have carried America’s tennis torch for more than a decade.
Although the U.S. ladies’ 12-year drought appears alarming, the American men should not be granted a reprieve.
Arthur Ashe, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi enjoyed decorated careers, yet no other male player has made an impact since these three retired. Agassi was the last male American to capture both the French (1999) and Australian (2003) Open titles.
Sampras remains the last male to secure Wimbledon after winning four consecutive titles from 1997 to 2000. Andy Roddick was the last American man to win the U.S. Open back in 2003 (this was his only Grand Slam victory as a professional).
The dominance of Swiss great Roger Federer and Spaniard great Rafael Nadal has played a significant role in the Americans’ demise, but it’s not too late to recapture America’s glory in this sport.
The Williams sisters were both knocked out of the French Open on the same day last month – only the third time this has happened in their careers.
Sloane Stephens, America’s newest young talent, was eliminated two rounds later in the fourth round. In 2013, Stephens upset Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinal.
From that point onward, tennis analysts classified her the United States’ next tennis star. So far, Stephens has not lived up to those claims as she currently holds an overall 29-37 record and zero Grand Slam titles. Although she has her entire career ahead, will tennis fans wait for her to become a superstar?
Venus and Serena have generated much excitement from ethusiasts throughout the States, especially within the African-American community.
What Tiger Woods is to golf, the Williams sisters are to tennis. While both are in the twilight of their careers, one might wonder who will carry the load for this country. Hopefully Stephens can grow up fast.