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Liguori: Has Tennis Taken The Williams Sisters For Granted?

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Venus Williams (L) and US Serena Williams play against Russia's Elena Vesnina and Russia's Vera Zvonareva during their women's doubles match in the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in southwest London. (credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Venus Williams (L) and US Serena Williams play against Russia’s Elena Vesnina and Russia’s Vera Zvonareva during their women’s doubles match in the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in southwest London. (credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

By Ann Liguori
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It’s amazing to me how many combined Grand Slam singles titles the Williams sisters have won, given the injuries and ailments they both have endured! These two sisters from Compton, California, have dominated women’s tennis the last decade like none other. Serena is the top female player in history. When Serena is 100 per cent healthy, she is unbeatable. And if anyone could beat Serena, it would be her sister Venus.

Venus Williams, winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles, including two US Open Titles in 2000 and 2001, withdrew from the tournament yesterday, revealing that she was recently diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects energy levels, causes fatigue and joint pain.

The 31-year-old said that she has suffered various symptoms for many years which affected her ability to perform in tennis but was basically misdiagnosed and treated for other ailments. She has not won a Major singles title since 2008.

“Looking back,” Williams told ABC’s GMA Thursday morning, “it’s affected my career in a huge way…I’ve been playing a lot of matches with half a deck.” Venus  added, “It’s mentally destructive going into matches and wondering which balls can I run for and am I going to be able to compete.”

Wow – Venus playing with a half of deck and still won seven Majors? I always wondered why she was so often sidelined and whether winning more Championships really mattered to her. Of course, she and her sister Serena, who has won 13 Major Singles Championships, have a variety of other interests which they pursue, which I admire. But both players have dealt with an extraordinary amount of injuries and most recently illnesses.

Serena Williams took most of the past year off from tennis due to a right foot injury which she sustained in July 2010 and then she suffered a hematoma and pulmonary embolism at the end of February.  (Serena missed three months in 2005 after right knee surgery; was out for eight months after left knee surgery in 2003 and then was sidelined another six months in 2006  with another left knee injury). But when Serena did return this summer, it did not take her long to win an event. She won the title at Stanford, her first title since 2010 Wimbledon, and then won her 39th career singles title at Toronto. Those back-to-back titles helped her climb from #175 in the rankings after Wimbledon to #29.

You have to wonder how many more titles both sisters could have, if it weren’t for the many injuries and ailments, not taking anything away from the 20 Grand Slam singles titles they’ve already earned!

Given their dominance when they are healthy, does the tennis world appreciate their accomplishments?

Andy Roddick brought up a good point last evening after his first round win.

When asked what makes Venus so special, he replied, “That’s a question that probably warrants more of my time than I have to give right now. I mean, if you think about their story, if you actually think about it, I think we take it for granted. A lot of times they’ve drawn a lot of criticism. But, trust me, five years, when they’re gone, everyone is going to miss them. Everyone is going to realize they’re going to be living legends for the rest of their lives. Two girls from Compton dominating tennis, that’s not an everyday story, the way they’ve gone about it. Venus is just the epitome of class, the way she’s gone about it. I don’t think she’s ever even had a sniff of controversy around her. She’s just done it the right way.”

Venus and Serena have been such a big part of tennis history. Here’s to them winning many more and getting and staying healthy!

XXX

Be sure to catch Ann’s tennis reports on WFAN 660 am. For more information on Ann, visit www.annliguori.com.

 What do you think of the accomplishments of the Williams sisters? Leave a comment below.

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