Soon after it began, there was no question who was going to prevail in tonight’s Serena vs. Venus match. But plenty of questions abound about them and the incredible impact their family has made on tennis and the world around us.
1. Is their story the greatest in sports history?
2. What would modern tennis have been like without them?
3. Is there a greater sibling rivalry in any field anywhere?
4. What if their dad hadn’t seen Virginia Ruzici on TV win $40,000 at a Utah tournament and then decide to have two children who’d go into tennis in order to have lucrative careers?
5. Is Serena the best ever in tennis history?
6. Should Serena be compared with male athletes?
7. So what about the dreaded “R” word, as in retirement? Will the sisters make it through the 2020 Olympics? Will the older Venus, who is 38, retire first, or will Serena, who is a mother and wife, leave sooner? Or will they go out together? Will they depart the stage quietly or, as is their style, will it be a dramatic exit?
8. Does Serena mean it when she says, with a glint in her eye, “All I want to do is outlast Roger”?
9. Is Serena’s serve, with its natural flow and easy power, the most impactful stroke in tennis history?
10. How would Venus and Serena have done if they had not had to face each other?
11. Just how incredible was it that only seven months after a challenging childbirth, and in only her fourth tourney after her time off the tour, Serena reached the Wimbledon final?
12. Has any other family drawn more controversy? From their decision to not play junior tennis and their being intensely booed at Indian Wells to Venus being bumped by Irina Spirlea at the US Open to Serena being called disrespectful for wearing a bodysuit at the French Open, one way or another, the sisters seem to stir things up.
13. What would their records be like if they hadn’t faced such tragedies, ailments and serious disease? And did all those difficult setbacks somehow motivate them and help extend their careers?
14. In their rivalry, what was the most dramatic or emotional moment for each of them?
15. So, what is it really like to play your sibling on an international sports stage? And what is the vibe in the locker room, just before going out on court?
16. Can we say Richard Williams is the greatest father/coach of all-time or, at the very least, the most underrated?
17. Has any one parent watched more tennis, or played a more curious role, than the Williams’ bemused, seen-it-all mother Oracene, who is now seen less and less?
18. Is writer Gianni Clerici’s assertion that “What tennis needs is a third sister” the best suggestion for the improvement of the game that tennis has ever gotten?
19. Is Serena the biggest crossover star in tennis history?
20. Has Serena had more impact on the court, or off?
21. Nike, Chase, American Express – the sisters have earned a bounty off of endorsements. They are overachievers – right? But they haven’t made nearly as much as Maria Sharapova. So are they actually underachievers? Is race involved?
22. Will Serena equal or break Margaret Court’s record of 24 Slams?
23. What if Serena hadn’t lost to Virginie Razzano in the first round of the 2012 French Open, a devastating defeat which prompted her to seek out the adept coaching of Patrick Mouratoglou?
24. Will Serena’s daughter Olympia play tennis?
25. How the heck did the young sisters play with so many beads in their hair?
26. What would their records be like if they hadn’t boycotted Indian Wells for 14 and 15 years?
27. Is 6’1” Venus the best tall women’s player in history?
28. As hard as it is to imagine, with her great reach and powerful volleys, would Venus somehow have been better off if she had been taught to serve and volley?
29. Here’s a scary thought: What if Venus had Serena’s serve?
30. When it comes to the best women’s doubles teams of all time, can we rank the sisters – who’ve won 14 Slams together – in the top three, with Navratilova–Shriver (20 Slams, including a Grand Slam), Gigi Fernandez–Natasha Zvereva (13 Slams) and Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals (eight Slams), or even as the best ever?
31. Will another woman win a Slam while pregnant?
32. What if Venus had followed her dad’s advice and, in her mid-20s, quit tennis to become a computer executive?
33. How many hundreds of thousands of balls have Venus and Serena struck playing with each other?
34. After 30 years of practices and matches, how hard-driven into the muscle memories of each are their sister’s shots?
35. Has any player on tour, including Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and Andre Agassi, evolved more, or gone through more phases than Serena?
36. Across the globe, how many millions of children and adults have these two athletes inspired?