Seven years on from their last meeting in a Wimbledon final, Serena and Venus Williams are both one win away from a family affair in Saturday’s finale.
It seems almost unthinkable that the sisters, Venus aged 36 and Serena aged 34, would be able to reach a fifth final showdown, yet here we are… almost.
It’s hard not to get caught up in talk of a Williams vs Williams final, but there is the small matter of Thursday’s semi-finals to take care of before we may be to take in another epic between the two sisters.
While Serena is expected to see off surprise semi-finalist Elena Vesnina without too much trouble (although that’s what we all thought of Roberta Vinci at the US Open…), Venus has a tough task ahead of her in the formidable form of Angelique Kerber.
The German endured quite a drop off after her surprise victory at the Australian Open, but has now found form that suggests that her win in Melbourne might not be a once-off feat. The fourth seed has moved through the draw without dropping a set and having claimed one slam will have the belief that she can win another.
Venus leads the head-to-head battle 3-2, but Kerber won the lone match they have played on grass, at the 2012 Olympics.
Regardless of the result on Thursday, Venus will leave Wimbledon a champion. Having battled the energy-sapping immune system disorder Sjogren’s syndrome since 2011, Williams’ top-level singles career looked to be over, with doubles adventures with sister Serena her primary success. The character displayed by Venus to return to a Wimbledon semi-final once more is incredible. It’s a health-defying achievement and one which she cannot warrant enough praise.
Speaking on Wednesday, 1999 Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport led the chorus of appreciation for Venus.
“People have kept asking, ‘When are you going to quit, when is the end?’. The fans want to know, the media wants to know, and she has been steadfast that she doesn’t want to quit,” said Davenport.
“People have questions about players – are they mentally and physically strong enough to last through a tournament? Can they muster the magic again? And she’s just always believed in herself. It’s been amazing to watch her play here.
“To be 36 and also carry an auto-immune disorder, I can’t even comprehend how tough that is day in and day out. You hear about the joints and all the pain that brings. You run out of superlatives for describing her and her whole road and journey.”
For Elena Vesnina, a berth in Saturday’s final would be her fifth Wimbledon final, but her first in singles. The Russian is quite comfortable with grand slam silverware, with two women’s doubles and one mixed doubles title to her name.
However, in the realm of singles this is very much a whole new ball game for the 29-year-old. Prior to this year’s adventures at SW19, Vesnina had not made it past the second round at Wimbledon since 2009 when she achieved what was until now a career-best fourth round finish.
It seems likely that Vesnina’s quest will end against Serena first up on Centre Court, but even in defeat she will remain alive in the tournament, having progressed to the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles with partner Ekaterina Makarova. Their opponents in the last eight? None other than Venus and Serena Williams.