Venus, Serena Play for 24th Time - VCO Final on the Line
By: Nicholas McCarvel
"She's the toughest opponent I've ever played." Those were Serena Williams' words about her sister Venus Friday night following her second of two victories, securing an all-Williams semifinal Saturday afternoon at the Volvo Car Open.
It will be a blockbuster showdown for the sister duo, who haven't played since the WTA Championships in 2009 and have not met on clay since the French Open final in 2002. This will be their first encounter on green clay.
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"The last years have been challenging and at some points difficult, but I think in both of our heads we never gave up on tennis or ourselves or belief," Venus, 32, said in her press conference. "And that's what's crucial is that you never stop believing in yourself. And it's not easy, but it's worth it."
It certainly should be worth it on Saturday. Serena leads the sisters' head-to-head 13-10. She was the one that won their last meeting 7-6 (4), 6-2 in 2009. It will be the sixth time the sisters meet when Serena, the younger one, is the world No. 1 (as she is now, Venus is ranked No. 24); Serena has gone 4-1 in those matches.
But as for playing on green clay, which they've never done before, 31-year-old Serena says her sister is a strong player on the earthen surface.
"I think she's a great clay court player. She has more titles on clay than I do."
It's Serena who leads their overall race in titles, capturing 48 career trophies to Venus' 44. Serena has won twice here - in 2008 and 2012 - while Venus was champion nearly ten years ago in 2004.
"It's difficult because we know each other," Serena said. "I know where she's going to serve. She knows where I'm going to serve. And I know she probably knows mine better than I do."
Serena has won their last four meetings, in fact, including the last time they faced off in the U.S., which was in the semifinals of Miami in 2009.
Nine of their 23 matches have gone three sets, including their 22nd match, which came in Doha prior to the final. Serena won that one 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (4), their closest encounter.
The sisters first met in the second round of the Australian Open in 1998, Venus beating her younger sister - both of them with their hair clad in beads - in straight sets, 7-6 (4), 6-1.
"I think we just both want to win," said world No. 1 Serena. "I think we just both have so much respect for each other's game that makes it probably a little tougher because you know you're not going to get an easy win. You know you have to really just be on your game and play well every single time. So I think that's probably the toughest part."
This will be their first-ever meeting in Charleston.
The sisters have played doubles together throughout the years, winning doubles Grand Slam titles. Together in singles, they have combined for 22 major titles, most recently Serena's triumph at the US Open a year ago. Venus' last major came at Wimbledon in 2008.