When Venus Williams finally won a game, a full five deep into her lopsided semifinal match with younger sister Serena Williams, the big crowd around Billie Jean King Court exhaled in supportive roar. Also a gasp for drama, it was loud enough to shake the Avocados From Mexico van parked aside the stadium and full of free guacamole samples.
Alas, no help.
No pity necessary.
The sibling rivalry fizzled Saturday at the Family Circle Cup, but it’s been a wonderful Williams week: The women, the movie, the legend.
Sizzling Serena with a 6-1, 6-2 semifinal victory is in prime condition and a win over Jelena Jankovic away from her second straight Family Circle Cup title. That would be a first since the tournament moved to Charleston in 2001.
Venus vaulted to something resembling contender form. It’s just that she had to bounce back from injury over hill, dale, puddles and two matches on Friday to reach the semifinals.
“She’s had a great week,” top seeded Serena said. “I feel like, honestly, if she hadn’t had to play so many matches, it would have been a much tougher match. … That’s positive-looking for her, and her next tournament can be really more positive for that.”
Venus rising is always a good thing for tennis, which needs sustained star power even more than fans need free guac.
The Williams family version was on almost constant display here for a historic 28 hours.
Consider that from 11 a.m. Friday through the semifinal match Saturday, each Williams sister played on Billie Jean King Court three times.
Friday: Quadrupleheader forced by Thursday’s rain featuring Venus, Serena, Venus and Serena.
Saturday: Understandably, Venus wasn’t quite herself.
Of course, the No. 1-ranked player in the world had something to do with that. Serena defeated Maria Sharapova in three sets in the Sony Open final last week at Miami and looked every bit the Family Circle Cup favorite Saturday.
“Serena is playing extremely well,” Venus said, “and it’s great to see her at No. 1 and just fulfilling every dream.”
The buildup was fun.
Among active players, Serena and Venus rank 1-2, respectively, in WTA Tour career singles titles (48, 44). Sharapova is a distant third, at 28.
“Venus and Serena” is a Magnolia Films documentary that made its debut on iTunes this week, and it hits the big screen in May.
It lasts less than 100 minutes.
Saturday’s live production went 54 minutes and wasn’t quite as gripping.
The takeaway is better.
Serena has a 5-4 career edge over Jankovic, the 2007 Family Circle Cup champion.
“She doesn’t miss,” Serena said. “She gets a lot of balls back and likes to go down the line. I’ll be ready for her. She’s been playing well in the past month; she’s been really consistent. So I’ll have my work cut out for me. It’ll be interesting.”
Venus, ranked No. 24, withdrew from the Sony Open in Miami last month with a sore back, and has endured other injuries and illness over the last few years.
“It was a really great week for me,” Venus said. “This is some of the best I’ve felt in a very long time. So, for me, it’s something to build on.”
Venus appreciated the good tennis enthusiasts of Daniel Island and their efforts to rally her back into the Saturday spirit.
“People have been very supportive of me here and they want to see a good match,” Venus said. “But also I think they were behind me as well. So that felt really nice.
“And hopefully Serena and I will play against each other again here.”
Now there’s a winning point.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.
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