Davenport: Draw tough on sisters

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Published: Sunday 5th July 2015 by The News Editor

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Elder sister Venus will directly block Serena Williams’ calendar grand slam path on Monday, in a Wimbledon clash that is both essential viewing and impossible to watch.

Former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport believes the inseparable siblings’ first meeting in six years will have even the aficionados squirming in their SW19 seats.

Serena Williams admitted British star Heather Watson “should have won” their third-round battle, while also tipping Venus as the more in-form of the two five-time Wimbledon champions, whose 26th meeting will launch Wimbledon’s second week.

The Williams sisters have so few records left to break, but 33-year-old Serena “loves the position she’s in” chasing unchartered territory by swiping all four majors in one season, according to fellow American Davenport.

“I think it’s so difficult, I’m sure when they saw the draw they were both like ‘ugh’,” Davenport told Press Association Sport, 17 years on from the sisters’ first meeting.

“Serena’s playing for history; Venus isn’t going to have that many more opportunities here. I’m sure it has to be so hard on them.

“They are obviously experienced at it, they have been dealing with it since they were 15 and 16 in age, but I’m sure they would rather see anybody else in the draw.

“I think people have a hard time watching them, because people think of them just always being together, even though they are both just amazing champions in their own right.

“It’s a match you have to watch, but you almost don’t want to at the same time.

“And I think again it’s hard, everyone wants to see if Serena can complete this calendar year grand slam, there’s a lot riding on it for her.

“But everyone loves Venus. So I think it’s just a lot of mixed emotions seeing them play each other – especially in the round of 16.

“It would be one thing if was a grand slam semi or a grand slam final, but fourth round just seems entirely too early for two five-time champions to play.”

British number one Watson squandered two match points and one of the great Wimbledon upsets as Williams recovered her poise to set that meeting with Venus.

The elder Williams eased past Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets, leaving Serena revealing practice-court frustrations over the 35-year-old’s fine form.

Serena still boasts 20 grand slam titles to Venus’ seven though, leaving 1999 Wimbledon champion Davenport tipping the 33-year-old to continue to home in on that elusive calendar grand slam.

“I think Serena loves the position she’s in, playing for something she’s never achieved before, going for the calendar slam,” said Davenport.

Serena Williams has already bludgeoned her way to this year’s Australian and French Open titles, and now has the season’s third major title in her sights.

“It’s an exciting place for her to be and I think she’s loving where she is right now,” said Davenport.

“I think you can tell when Serena can play well, it almost always is when she’s in a good place off the court, and in her personal life and a lot of times she brings some of the issues going on onto the court.

“Serena wants to go down as the greatest player of all time.

“Against Watson you saw some of the cracks and the pressure she’s putting herself under to do something she’s never done before in tennis.”

Fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki must topple Spain’s Garbine Muguruza to reach her first Wimbledon quarter-final in a packed fourth-round line-up.

Maria Sharapova takes on Zarina Diyas, while fresh from dispatching defending champion Petra Kvitova, Jelena Jankovic meets Agnieska Radwanska.

Eastbourne winner Belinda Bencic will face Victoria Azarenka, with Madison Keys up against Olga Govortsova, Timea Bacsinszky taking on Monica Niculescu and Lucie Safarova paired with Coco Vandeweghe.

Davenport spent the morning of Wimbledon’s opening day coaching youngsters from the local Bishop Gilpin Church of England Primary School, at HSBC Court 20, set beside SW19’s famous queue.

Davenport, now coaching American Madison Keys, admitted it was only last year that she finally appreciated the full magnitude of that great British institution of queuing for Wimbledon tickets.

“I first came out here last year, and I had no idea what this whole other village entailed,” said HSBC ambassador Davenport, confident Britain’s current crop of stars will inspire the next generation of talent.

“I think it’s great for the fans to have a bit of fun, 99 per cent of these people will never step on a court at Wimbledon, so it’s a great experience.

“I grew up watching a ton of Americans and I always felt very lucky I could have had a lot of stars to look up to.

“Andy Murray’s going to do wonders for that next generation.

“And even with James Ward, anything’s possible.

“He’s never been in the third round before, now he’s inside the top 100, so it’s a dream for these people to relate to stars like that.”

Published: Sunday 5th July 2015 by The News Editor

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