One knocked out, one still alive. That is the most succinct way of putting how the sisters named Williams fared at the venerable tennis playground we call Wimbledon. While the elder Williams has had increasingly diminished success at the other majors, Venus’s display at this her most successful and dominant major is vastly bewildering.
While younger sister Serena did enough to get by dangerous top-10’er Li Na in straight sets, Venus look like a deflated lost puppy out there, barely stringing together a mere five games against a largely unheralded Bulgarian name Tsvetana Pironkova. Never heard of Pinonkova, you say? Not to worry; you shouldn’t have, because even the tennis die hards couldn’t have fathomed this kind of result today. As Sports Illustrated tennis writer Jon Wertheim put it in his notes for the day, “When Venus Williams was pitted against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, many predicted a rout, say a clinical 6-2, 6-3 wax job that would barely last an hour.” But who would have thought that it would be Pironkova who would do the waxing?
If you’re only a casual fan of this sport, allow me to give you some context on how much of a stunner this result truly is at Wimbledon. Since her 2001 U.S. Open win, all of Venus’ major titles have come where? At Wimbledon. All of her major final appearances? At Wimbledon. Her best tennis produced where? At Wimbledon. Beginning to see a trend here? There really are no words to describe Venus’ play today, besides utterly preposterous. At the ripe old age of 30, you hate to start asking questions about retirement, but with this kind of performance how can you not?
And while it’s a sad sort of day for the elder sister, younger sister Serena lives on, as she continues to chug along, rolling over her opponents with her sheer serving performance alone. While the little sister has still yet to find her rhythm on her ground game, Wimbledon has become her tournament to lose, with her serve still cranking along at full throttle.
While not at her best today, she still decisively defeated Na Li, without losing her serve. Two more rounds of this and we know who will be holding the winner’s trophy. Sad day for you, Venus. Let’s see if Serena can bring it home.