You cannot be serious, John McEnroe. You cannot mean what you
say in your new book. You cannot actually believe you can beat
one of the Williams sisters.
You were great. You were three exits past great. But you would
get fried, flambeed and fricasseed. They would stomp you, sweep
you up and send you home in an earring box.
Did you see the way Sisters Sledgehammer wowed Wimbledon last
Saturday in the all-Williams final? Londoners haven't seen that
many rockets since World War II. Serena hit a serve 112 mph.
Venus hit one 111. You rarely ever got one to 110, Mac, and that
was three hairlines ago.
Did you see the way they moved? They cover more grass than
fairway mowers. They're quicker than rent money and get to more
balls than the duchess of Kent. We'd wish you the best, Mac, but
you'd lose in straight sets. Really, to make it fair, you'd have
to get the doubles lines.
You should play one of them, though, just for comic relief.
Please? Just pick one.
Would you choose the voluptuous Serena, who beat her older sister
for the Wimbledon title 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 and is now the single most
charming figure in women's sports?
Or would you try your luck with the leggy Venus, the goddess with
such reach that she picked balls out of spectators' Pimm's cups
all week? In other words, would you like to get run over by a
road paver or a wheat combine?
This Sister Act is the best thing to happen to tennis since you
and Bjorn. They're Jehovah's Witnesses, so they don't celebrate
their birthdays, but we should. They're a gift to this country.
They're funny. They're smart. They speak a little French. They
design their own dresses and look ravishing in them. And they
play a kind of whomping, racing, thrilling tennis never before
played by people in skirts.
Look how the girls have grown. They've blown away every lame
criticism thrown at them. Insular? They are now distinct
personalities with their own sets of friends. Cocky? Nothing but
bluebirds come out of their mouths these days. Throwing matches
against each other? Are you kidding? Serena screamed, exulted and
abused her racket throughout the final. After Venus lost, she
looked like she might cry, even when she had to go out and play
with Serena in a doubles semifinal an hour later. (They cruised
to the doubles title on Sunday, of course.)
Do you realize how hard it is on them, when they have to face
each other with a Grand Slam title on the line? How would you
like to have to ruin the dreams of your best friend, your home
roomie, your road roomie, your favorite schoolmate, your favorite
hitting partner and your closest sister, all at once? Hell, yes,
it's hard. But they did it last Saturday, played a killer match,
gave it their all, from their tiaras to their toes, the best
battle of the fortnight by far.
And one minute after it was over, Venus took Serena aside and
whispered to her, "Remember, when you accept the plate, you have
to curtsy to the duchess." Isn't it great to have your older
sister around during sticky moments?
A Williams Wimbledon is an easy Wimbledon. Easy on the engraver.
(He had the WILLIAMS carved the night before.) Easy on the
announcer. ("Game, Miss Williams.") Easy on the
family-and-friends box. (Everybody knows one another!)
It's so...fascinating. No two siblings in history have dominated
their sport the way these two are dominating tennis. Not the
DiMaggios. Not the Mahres. Not the Unsers. The only sisters who
came close were Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers, who cornered
the advice market.
Now Serena takes home the unfortunately named Venus Rosewater
Dish as Wimbledon queen and sets it next to her sister's pair in
the trophy room at the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., house they
share. "At least I can still walk by and see it," the runner-up
said wryly afterward.
Serena also snatched No. 1 out of her sister's purse. Can you
imagine? Venus can't even say she's the best player in the house
now! You just know they'll trade that top ranking back and forth
like a dress that fits both. "Do you mind if I borrow Number 1
tonight? I've got a date!"
Sorry, Mac, but even in a strapless Valentino, mesh stockings and
spike heels, either of them would kick your butt and not even
have to freshen up afterward.
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA