Venus Williams came first. Both to the Williams family and to the tennis world, but then Serena Williams went all Michael Jackson on Venus’ Jermaine, and Venus became almost an afterthought — for everyone but her opponents. This year with pregnant younger sister Serena and her 23 Grand Slam titles out of the Wimbledon picture, the spotlight is on Venus again. How, you ask, could the spotlight ever stray from a 5-time Wimbledon champion with seven total major wins currently ranked No. 11 in the world? That’s how good Serena has been at the game of human eclipse. But nobody is eclipsing Venus this fortnight as she surged past 13th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko to reach the semifinals.
Venus, 37, last won a Wimbledon title in 2009 and has battled various physical maladies in trying to regain her form. She’s apparently won those battles. Venus is 15 years removed from becoming No. 1 for the first time in 2002, after a run that saw her win four of six consecutive majors (two Wimbledons and two US Opens). Her 2017 play at Wimbledon makes one wonder what 21st century women’s tennis might have been had Venus Williams been an only child. Then one quickly remembers it was the early sisterly battles on the courts that made both Serena and Venus the players they became. Wimbledon is showing daily on ESPN.