Australian Open top seed Serena Williams on Thursday revealed big sister Venus remains her inspiration, paying tribute to a player she said had shaken up tennis then transformed into the game’s elder stateswoman.
Both Williams sisters have been in the spotlight at Melbourne Park this year, with Serena gunning for an incredible 19th Grand Slam and Venus enjoying a late-career renaissance at 34 years of age.
Serena, 33, said Venus, who won the first of her seven Grand Slams at Wimbledon in 2000, was a trailblazer for black women in tennis.
“She came in as a new face, a black woman that was shaking up the world, she had all the pressure on her shoulders,” she said.
“I kind of came in behind her, just snuck in there. was no pressure on me at all. She dealt with it so amazing. She had a lot of confidence and she had so much class and still does throughout everything.”
Serena said her sister had made her proud in many ways over the years, from demanding equal prizemoney for women at Wimbledon to speaking out when tournament organisers in Dubai refused entry to Israeli players in 2009.
“So many different things that she’s done for the tour that’s made it a better place not just for me but for all the female players,” she said.
She also praised Venus’ attitude to the game in the twilight of her career.
The elder sister, seeded 18, is through to the Open third round and on a 7-0 run after winning the lead-up Auckland Classic.
“She’s like, ‘yeah, if I win it’ll be great. If not, I’m not going to worry about it’,” she said.
“I think that’s a great attitude because it takes a lot of pressure off of you. She’s done so much in her career. She doesn’t have to win another match.
“You can see that her personality is pretty much the same. She’s definitely grown but she’s always been very mature and very regal.” – Agence France-Presse