The greatest sister act in the history of sports is sadly nearing its end. Venus and Serena Williams have not only been the dominant names in women’s tennis for many years, Serena is arguably the greatest woman tennis player ever (some consider her the greatest period). The two have been on top of the sport for so long it’s hard to imagine that a time would come when they wouldn’t be title threats at any Grand Slam event, and in particular Wimbledon.
The grass court setting has always been the most ideal for both Williams sisters. The sisters have won 12 Wimbledon crowns between them, and in the process shattered stereotypes about who could be successful in a sport with an elitist, country-club background. But no one outlasts time, and aging is now having its impact on the sisters.
Venus, a five-time Wimbledon singles champion and the oldest at 42, recently announced she would not be playing at the All England club tournament this year. She stated on Instagram “No, I’m not playing but I’ll be watching. I’ll be watching Serena. Retirement rumors have swirled around Venus ever since last August, when she played her last event in Chicago. She competed in nine events during 2021, finishing with a 3-9 record.
The former world number one player dipped to 571 in the world rankings. But no one has yet counted her out, even though many feel she’s only awaiting what she considers the right time. Still, there are others who think she may still return to the tour. She would most likely be given a special exemption to Grand Slam events should she return.
But while Venus won’t be in the tournament, the bigger news is that Serena will be returning. It will be the first singles tournament for her in a year, with last year’s first round loss during which she tore her right hamstring after slipping during the opening set, marking the end of her Grand Slam season. She’s since dropped out of three straight Grand Slam events, but during interviews this weekend she put a quick end to any thoughts retirement is near for her.
“I didn’t retire,” Williams said. “I had no plans to be honest. I just didn’t know when I would come back. I didn’t know how I would come back; Obviously, Wimbledon is such a great place to be, and it just kind of worked out.” Though she’s 40, and recently split with longtime coach Patrick Mouratoglou after a decade together, no one’s counting her out as a potential champion this time out.
A seven-time Wimbledon champion, Serena Williams’ quest for an eighth begins soon. Her new coach is Eric Hechtman, the longtime director of tennis at Miami’s Royal Palm Tennis club and ironically also Venus Williams’ coach.
In the final stages of their careers, both sisters once again have the same coach, something that was once the case when their father, tennis Hall-of-Famer Richard Williams was prepping them in Compton. Time will tell what results, but if neither ever wins again, their incredible legacy as the most transformative force in tennis remains intact.