LONDON (Reuters) - It was yet another awkward encounter that is unlikely to live long in the memory but Venus Williams showed that she was no sore loser when she whispered some “sisterly words” into Serena’s ear as they embraced at the net at Wimbledon on Monday.
A contest featuring siblings, who between them have hoisted the Rosewater Dish 10 times, should have been a blockbuster but, as has been the case in the majority of their previous 25 meetings, it turned out to be an anti-climax that ended in a 6-4 6-3 fourth round triumph for younger sister Serena.
“It’s hard to feel excited about (beating) someone you root for all the time no matter what and you love so much and is your best friend in the world,” Serena said as she inched closer to a sixth Wimbledon title and a 21st major.
“It’s never easy but you just play for the competition and enjoy the moment.”
No one named Williams, however, appeared to be enjoying “the moment” on Monday.
Mum Oracene, a regular in the players’ box for all of her daughters’ battles, was missing from Centre Court. And the match lacked the usual roars and swinging fist pumps that have long been Serena’s hallmark.
Instead, the 68-minute blur started with Serena rattling through the first eight points, which prompted one male voice to shout “Come on Williams” to laughter from the Centre Court crowd.
It was no laughing matter for the two sisters, however, as they maintained their poker faces -- even opting not to challenge close calls they would have against any other rival -- while nervously trading breaks before the world number one moved 4-2 ahead.
Even when Serena hurled down three aces in the 10th game to bag the set, she failed to test her vocal cords and greeted the moment with a stony silence.
The letdowns continued for Venus in the second set.
She surrendered her serve in the seventh game with a double fault, could only watch in wonder as a 121mph ace whizzed past her outstretched racket and produced a backhand error to fall to a 15th defeat against her sister.
“She’s a champion. What else could you say about that? The ultimate,” summed up seven-times grand slam winner Venus.
The result extended the top seed’s grand slam winning steak to 25 matches and put her just three wins away from winning a fourth successive major and completing the “Serena Slam” for the second time in her career.
With their rivalry now into its 17th year, do the sisters enjoy playing each other?
“It definitely doesn’t get easier but today I was out there and I thought: ‘wow, I‘m 33 and she’s 35 and I don’t know how many more moments like this we will have’,” said Serena, who meets Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals.
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Clare Lovell