On This Day: The Williams Show
Published March 28, 2014 12:14
MIAMI, FL, USA - March 28, 1999 - it was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and two of the WTA's brightest future prospects were playing one of the WTA's biggest finals, the Sony Open Tennis in Miami.
They weren't supposed to make that final - Venus was the No.6 seed, Serena No.16. But they both did it anyway, knocking out all kinds of favorites along the way, Venus beating Jana Novotna and Steffi Graf and Serena ousting Monica Seles, Amanda Coetzer and then-World No.1 Martina Hingis.
With that, Venus and Serena created history - the first all-sister final in WTA history. It wasn't the first all-sister first for them - a month earlier they became the first sisters to win WTA titles in the same week, Venus in Oklahoma City and Serena in Paris - but this one was maybe even more special.
They were together.
And their family was there too, most notably father and coach Richard Williams, who - as he famously did back in the day - held up a home made sign, this time reading, 'Welcome To The Williams Show!!'
For almost two hours the two teenagers put on an impressive display of power and shotmaking, Venus striking first with a lopsided 6-1 first set then Serena striking back with a 6-4 second set. The third was a roller coaster - first Venus went up 3-1, then Serena caught up, and at 4-all it was anyone's game - but one last break and a hold at love gave Venus the title by a grueling 61 46 64 scoreline.
"Serena always comes back and defeats people, and I didn't want to become another victim," Venus said afterwards. "But in the end, we go home, we live life. You have to remind yourself it's a game."
"We believe that family comes first, not a game that's going to last 10 years at the most," Serena said after the match. "Why would I want that to come between someone who has always been around, always been a very special friend for me? I couldn't imagine that and I don't think she could either."
Thankfully Serena's ideas about longevity were wrong - fast forward 15 years later, to the day, and she's the No.1 player in the world, with Venus still winning Premier titles and challenging the best.
Here's to another 15 years...?
A few throwbacks to March 28, 1999...
No.1 song on Billboard Hot 100 singles: Believe by Cher
No.1 album on Billboard 200 albums: FanMail by TLC
No.1 movie at US Box Office: Forces Of Nature (starring Sandra Bullock & Ben Affleck)
No.1 men's tennis player: Carlos Moyá
No.1 women's tennis player: Martina Hingis