All England Notebook

You can always count on Venus and Serena to bring their ‘A-game’ in London.

Serena Williams smashing tennis ball 311 (photo credit: Michel Spingler/AP)
Serena Williams smashing tennis ball 311
(photo credit: Michel Spingler/AP)
There was really only one question ahead of the start of the women’s tournament at Wimbledon.
Would anyone be capable of ending the Williams sisters’ hegemony at the All England Club? If Monday’s matches are anything to go by than you would have to say no.
Serena or Venus have won the title at Wimbledon eight times in the last 10 years, playing each other in four of the last eight finals.
Their unrivaled power game is perfectly suited for the grass courts of SW19 and they were the clear favorites entering the event, especially as the No. 1 and 2-ranked players in the world.
In the week that has passed since, the odds on one of the sisters’ winning the title have only shortened.
Both have yet to drop a set and were in imperious form once more on Monday.
Venus, a five-time former champion, overcame in-form Australian Jarmila Groth 6-4, 7-6 (5), while Serena, a threetime winner, faced a stern test from former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova.
The Russian served superbly and fought for every point in trademark fashion, but Serena was still far too strong and with 31 winners, 19 of them aces, clinched a 7-6 (9), 6-4 win.
The Williams sisters are now just two wins away from a third straight meeting in the final and considering their form and the other six remaining players in the draw, you would be foolish to bet against another family affair in the title match.
Serena faces No. 9 seed Na Li in the quarters, while Venus goes against surprise Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.
However, there is one player capable of spoiling the Williams’ party.
Two-time Grand Slam winner and former No. 1, Kim Clijsters, is playing in Wimbledon for the first time in four years after retiring from tennis to have a baby in May 2007, only to make a triumphant return last summer, winning the US Open in her third tournament back.
On Monday, she got off to a slow start before overpowering superb Belgian compatriot Justine Henin 2-6, 6- 2, 6-3.
Clijsters has the ability and experience to beat either Williams sister, as she proved in New York last year when she defeated both on her way to the title at Flushing Meadows.
However, getting the better of a Williams sister at Wimbledon is an entirely different proposition.
While the smart money is on Serena or Venus to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish yet again, the rest of the world’s hopes lie with one Belgian mother who could still upset the odds.