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Williams sisters eye Beijing

July 07, 2008|Chuck Culpepper | Special to The Times

WIMBLEDON, England -- From here, Venus and Serena Williams will eyeball the Beijing Olympics and then the U.S. Open, where if somebody called them the prospective favorites, a proper answer might be, well, why not?

With Justine Henin retired and the top of the sport in a shaky phase, the Williams sisters just had a throwback Wimbledon with Williamses everywhere you looked.

Venus beat Serena in the women's singles final and as they both digested that, they teamed to win the doubles title Saturday night over American Lisa Raymond and Australian Samantha Stosur, thereby behaving as if Nos. 1 and 2 even though they're Nos. 6 and 7.

"I feel like my ability is better than what I'm ranked right now," Serena Williams said during the tournament.

With their seventh Grand Slam event title in tandem, they grinned and hugged each other while their mother, Oracene Price, aimed the camera from the Friends Box, and Serena momentarily forgot her singles gloom with a smile as they held the trophies. On the BBC on Sunday, Venus spoke of getting ready for the Wimbledon ball and declared Serena a maybe for that occasion.

At the tennis geezer ages of 28 and 26, they're still rich in future.

Serena made a whimsical splash this tournament by proclaiming that the sisters would be playing Wimbledon for "decades," and Venus said of a possible resumption atop the rankings, "I would love that. The main goal for both of us is to stay healthy. We've both worked really hard this year, and I think the results showed here."

In some sense, Wimbledon can be a one-off for the Williamses, given the way it revives and inspires them -- and especially the way its glass blades reward their power, especially Venus' serve. "I never felt very happy about my ground strokes here," she said, "but my serve, I felt like any time I needed it, it was pulling me out of any bind."

In another sense, though, a grab at the top seems plausible, as Wimbledon revealed some of the spottiness of the top players. No. 1 Ana Ivanovic looked shaky -- Zheng Jie drubbing her in the third round -- and has yet to surpass the fourth round of a U.S. Open. No. 2 Jelena Jankovic battled a knee hyperextension, and No. 3 Maria Sharapova had a spotty French-Wimbledon run, going fourth round-second round.

No. 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova did win the 2004 U.S. Open, but just had French and Wimbledon losses that could trigger serial nightmares.

The landscape looks non-threatening enough that the Williams sisters could have a few more of those highly unusual breakfasts where they eat together and then go out and play in a final.

Just Saturday morning, Venus said, "I was asking Serena if she remembered the match when, I don't know, I was in Sydney playing some match and Serena was watching my match and she finds out she's going to be on court in about 10 minutes, and so she runs from my match to go play her match.

"We were just talking about that this morning. That was maybe in '98."

Longevity would be their sudden identity.

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