The Williams sisters embrace at the net after their sixth meeting on Centre Court at Wimbledon
There were no celebrations on Centre Court at the end of this bloodless encounter. There was just Serena and Venus softly hugging and whispering sisterly words.
These hard-hitting siblings, with a lifetime’s rapport, had too much mutual respect for anything else. It was a fourth-round Wimbledon tie on the grandest stage in tennis, but it was still governed by private, family history.
The dilemma facing those watching in the warm summer breeze was summed up by the wit in the crowd who shouted, ‘Come on, Williams.’
By a slender margin, Venus got the louder cheer when she was introduced. It was the traditional British regard for the underdog, in this case ranked 16th to her sister’s world No 1 status, and the greater decibels went Venus’s way as the match went Serena’s.
Victory in 67 minutes took Serena into a much noisier and potentially more volatile quarter-final on Tuesday against the screaming Victoria Azarenka. The pair recently sparred at the French Open, which Williams won. The Belarusian waved her hand at Williams in a dispute over a line call, prompting the American to respond with a tart: ‘Don’t wave your hand at me.’
The winner of the Williams-Azarenka match is then expected to play the squealing Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals.