For over two decades, women’s tennis has been the story of Venus and Serena Williams. Not only did they clash in many matches, but they also teamed up to form a fearsome doubles squad. Some of the biggest moments in recent tennis history have involved Venus and Serena facing off. But it’s been over 20 years since their debut.
Serena has notably stepped into the public eye as a mother and philanthropist. So, when was the last time the Williams sisters actually competed against each other at a tournament?
The history of Venus vs. Serena
The first time Venus and Serena met in a tournament was 1998, in the Australian Open. Venus won in two sets, repeating the feat later at the Italian Open. In fact, Venus dominated the rivalry through all of 1998, 1999, and 2000.
More importantly, they worked together and won half a dozen doubles tournaments in the meantime. But going into 2001, Venus led the series 4-1. Since then, Serena has taken over as she became the undisputed best player in the world (and possibly all time). As of mid-September 2020, Serena leads the series with 19 wins to Venus’s 12.
The last time Venus and Serena Williams battled
Their last meeting was in August at the 2020 Top Seed Open. Serena entered as the top seed, while Venus replaced Garbiñe Muguruza, who withdrew. The Williams sisters made their way to the round of 16, where they faced each other. Drawing attention from the public for the first time in a while (and featured in People Magazine), Serena entered the match as a -240 favorite, or about 70% chance, to defeat Venus.
But Venus struck first, taking the first set 6-3. Serena secured the second with the same score, setting the sisters up for a third set for all the marbles. It was closer than either of the first two sets, but Serena managed to win 6-4 and avoid any extra games.
Serena didn’t make it past the next round, but it’s impressive that she maintains such a high level of play as she enters the twilight of her career. Because of her opponent, the match in Lexington was one of the more popular ones in Serena’s recent career. She’ll likely keep having important matches. Her shocking loss against Naomi Osaka last year put the younger player on the map. It probably won’t be the last time the two meet.
The rivalry in historical context
What Venus and Serena have accomplished on the court (both separately and together) will go down in history. They’re not the first pair of sisters to play tennis at a high level, but their pure skill is almost unrivaled. Despite Serena entering the Top Seed Open as the No. 1 Seed, she’s clearly no longer the best player in the world. And that’s alright.
She’s shown over and over that she can overcome the odds to win and shouldn’t be counted out of any match until she decides it’s time to retire. It was 22 years between the first time Serena and Venus met on the court and their most recent battle. But they looked solid and professional on the court in August and could both play for a long time.
The new generation of women’s tennis players is already showing what they can do. But the Williams sisters and the rest of the old guard are doing everything they can to hold back the hands of time. It’s unlikely that this will be Venus and Serena’s last battle.