LONDON: Serena and Venus Williams will clash at Wimbledon for the first time in six years on Monday, but their ferocious appetite for success suggests it might be premature to bill it as an emotional final fling.
The sisters, who meet in the anticipated fourth-round tie of the tournament, have reigned supreme for much of the last two decades at Wimbledon, lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish five times each.
With 27 Grand Slam titles between them, the siblings are well established as two of the greatest female players in tennis history.
Taking into account their incredible rise from the bullet-scarred courts of Los Angeles only increases the magnitude of the sisters’ accomplishments.
17 years after their first meeting at the Australian Open, the sisters are still as relentlessly competitive as they were when Richard first put a racket in their hands as means to escape crime-plagued Compton.
After a troubled period three years ago, Serena has won seven of the last 11 Grand Slams.
A sixth Wimbledon title this year would mean Serena holds all four major titles at the same time and would put her on the brink of becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win a calendar Grand Slam.
The 26th meeting of the sisters’ careers is a chance to toast the extraordinary longevity that suggests one of the sport’s more fascinating family aren’t done yet.
‘Manic Monday’ as all four men’s favourites feature
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray remain on course for the Wimbledon semi-finals ahead of ‘manic Monday’ when the last-16 takes place.
Six of the top 10 seeds are safely into the business end of the tournament after a first week which saw seventh seed Milos Raonic and 10th-seeded Rafael Nadal defeated on court.
Fifth seed Kei Nishikori withdrew before the second round with a calf injury while eighth-seeded David Ferrer pulled out before the first round.
Defending Djokovic will face South African 14th seed Kevin Anderson in the fourth round, defending a 4-1 career lead.
“I think he is probably playing the best tennis of his life,” said 2011-winner Djokovic who hasn’t dropped a set so far. “It will be a match of very small margins that will be decided by a few points. So I need to be able to get as many returns back in play.”
Federer, chasing a record eighth title in his 17th consecutive Wimbledon, faces Spanish 20th seed Roberto Bautista Agut — voted the most improved player of 2014.
However, he has lost both of his matches against Federer without winning a set including a fourth round loss to the Swiss at the 2014 US Open.
Murray, the 2013 champion tackles 36-year-old Croatian Ivo Karlovic, the oldest man to make the fourth round at the All England Club since compatriot Niki Pilic in 1976.
The 23rd seed is also the oldest to reach the last-16 of any of the four Grand Slams since 39-year-old Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.
“It’s a great feeling. I really like what I do. I’m just having fun. So if I’m able to do this at my age, it is unbelievable still,” said Karlovic who has served 136 aces in three matches.
Murray needed treatment on his right shoulder in his four-set win over Andreas Seppi on Saturday but then reeled off the last six games of the match. He takes a 5-0 career lead into Monday’s clash with Karlovic.
“It will be a very different match from Seppi. Ivo is going to be coming to the net a lot,” said Murray. “He’s served very well, so the returns will have to be on if I want to get through that one.”
Fourth seed and French Open champion Wawrinka faces Belgian 16th seed David Goffin who has made the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time, equalling his previous best at a major when he came out of qualifying to reach the French Open last 16 in 2012.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.
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