US OPEN: Mama Serena and Auntie Venus – Quips, Comments & Conversations

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images


Life can kick you in the butt, but then it tends to pick you up again. At Wimbledon, Venus Williams, the grande dame of tennis, seemed crushed. A car accident she was involved in led to the death of a 78-year old man. At first it seemed she was at fault. Venus was crestfallen. Her soul was shaken. In a press conference she fell into a deep sorrow. Silence descended. Tears flowed. It was gut-wrenching – one felt her pain.

Two months later, here at the Open, skies are blue. Life is a (Labor Day) holiday. The news is joyous.

Serena Williams has given birth to a baby girl in West Palm Beach Florida. Bethanie Mattek-Sands soon was demanding pictures. The USTA made a snazzy congratulations video, and the Twittersphere went nuts. Her well respected coach Patrick Mouratoglou tweeted, “I am so happy for you and I feel your emotion. Recover well & enjoy without limitation. I have 3 daughters & each time it is the same incredible journey…I wish you a speedy recovery…we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Mouratoglou then told Inside Tennis, 
”It’s not only about having daughters. It’s about having kids. It’s one of the most incredible things that we experience in life. It’s something new for Serena. I know she’s going to love it. I feel her emotion, really. I’m so happy for her.”

As for its impact on Serena on court, Mouratoglou said, “I don’t know if it’s going to help her as a tennis player, but what I can say is that she can’t wait to get back. She’s going to start very slow, because having a baby, for the body, is something big. She will start from zero. But as soon as the motivation is there, she can move mountains.”

“So when,” we asked, “will Serena be back on court?” He replied, “It’s difficult to say because I don’t know how it went. I don’t know if she had a C-section. This has consequences on how much time she needs in recovery. But as soon as she can step on the court, she will.”

Observers quickly noted that Serena has a knack for timing. She announced that she was pregnant on the same day that Sharapova announced her drug suspension. She went into labor just as the Labor Day Weekend was beginning and Sharapova was poised to be in the US Open spotlight.

Many in tennis have daughters. Most famously. Kim Clijsters’ daughter Jada was two when she stole the show during the US Open awards ceremony after her mom won the title. Federer has twin daughters, John McEnroe has three daughters, James Blake and Lindsay Davenport each have two, Steffi Graf, Jimmy Connors, Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo each have one, and Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker are expecting a daughter.


After her routine win today over Greece’s Maria Sakkari, everyone wanted to know what Auntie “V” would have to say about Serena, whom she so adores, and her feelings on becoming an aunt.

So Inside Tennis started Venus’ press conference by asking, “Such a day of great joy. The announcement of Serena’s birth. What went through your heart when you heard your sister gave birth?”

But while Venus opened up at Wimbledon and spoke forthrightly about the horrific car crash, here, for whatever reasons, she chose not to share. Emotions and family dynamics often are complex. In any case, she curtly replied to us, “I’m definitely available to answer questions about tennis. That’s all right now.”

Then deeper into the press conference the New York Times’ Juliet Macur tried to get Venus to open up.

She asked, “Do you think Serena will call you to give you any tips about tennis?” Venus replied, “We always talk…she’s always encouraging me…” The Times reporter trudged on, asking, “Did she call you before this match or text you? You said every step, every match. I’m following up.” Venus conceded, “Yeah, I talked to her.”

The cat-and-mouse game went on and on, and got more and more testy. So we decided to jump into the fray. With a sizable glint in our eye, we asked, “Did Serena talk at all about her daughter’s tennis tendencies? Does she have a two-handed backhand? Does she get enough depth on the forehand?”

“Oh, my gosh,” said Venus with a smile. “That’s hilarious.”


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