Sisterhood slams door on spectacle

Back in 1987, when they were ranked two and three in the world, Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander met in the semi-finals of the US Open. Since both are Swedes, the tournament planners stuck them on first at 11am in a virtually empty stadium because, this being so-called Super Saturday, when Grand Slam traditions are annually hurled to the wind by this misbegotten tournament in favour of TV ratings, matches involving Americans were deemed more appealing to the nation's late-rising couch potatoes.

Mats and Stefan did their stuff, Wilander winning in four sets. Afterwards the pair were asked if they minded being insulted by the arrogant scheduling. Rather than a straight yes or no, Wilander offered this parable: two tennis players, a Czech and a Swede, jump into the deep end of a New York swimming pool. Who sinks first? Answer: who cares? Much the same comment applies to this year's women's final, which was due to be coming to an end this morning at roughly the time our nation's early birds were reaching for coffee and cornflakes. Once upon a time, the result of the women's final at the US Open made it into the Sunday papers of more than just the United States. Now the match has to be played as the CBS Prime Time final on Saturday night. And anybody who doesn't like it can jump in a pool and sink.

But, be honest now, how many really care whether Venus Williams or Serena was the winner this morning? This was the third consecutive Grand Slam final contested by the Super Sisters; the fourth in the last five. A bit like Lewis-Tyson IV, this was a contest too far. In raising women's tennis to a new level of bludgeoning skill, the Williamses have, in effect, wrecked it as a spectacle, though of course CBS Prime Time would not agree. Opponents are already staggering from bomb-proof bunkers with raised arms and shattered rackets. Jelena Dokic, the Miss Dismal of whatever nation she happens to be currently representing, has opined that there is no point going on court against Venus or her "baby" sister. Some baby, eh? Others haven't quite got around to being so frank as Dokic, but you can see from their expressions as another 120mph ace screams past them or a smash threatens their wellbeing that they are thinking pretty much the same.

Lindsay Davenport's face was a mask of resignation mixed with despair as she was pummelled to the deck in Friday night's semi-finals by the catsuited Serena. Had a cartoon-strip bubble been floating over Davenport's head it would have read "Why bother?" All Serena lacked in that match was the executioner's mask.

Davenport, Jennifer Capriati and Amélie Mauresmo are all big punchers who have fancied their prospects against a Williams, while those who play slower-paced stuff with style and skill, such as Martina Hingis and Monica Seles, have been out of serious contention for a while. Now suddenly the other big hitters are being outhit, particularly by Serena, who went into last night's final having reeled off 30 straight sets in Grand Slam play.

She reached this final by winning six matches in less time than it took Marat Safin to get through his first-round contest against Nicolas Kiefer. Once on Friday night, having netted a volley at the start of the second set, Serena picked up the ball and stared hard at it, as if about to admonish it for daring to fail to do her bidding. Such is confidence.

Naturally, they will be delighted about all this at the Williams family patch in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. His daughters' domination is a tribute to the eccentric skills and gritty drive of Richard Williams, determined that two black children should storm a white-dominated sport. However, though it is a wonderful tale, the Williams girls have turned their sport into a bore simply by virtue of their unassailability.

With Capriati and the Williamses having won the last 10 Grand Slams, the United States can safely be accepted as the dominant factor in the women's game, the "new wave", if Capriati can thus be described at 26. The same does not apply to America's men. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, whose combined age would qualify them for a bus pass, were the home nation's hopes in the semi-finals. Things haven't quite panned out as planned for the guys, particularly in the case of Andy Roddick. Sampras called him "the future of American tennis", and he may yet prove to be just that. But there has already been a worrying intrusion of hype over the Florida-based Nebraskan. He already has a full-time publicist, a sister-in-law called Ginger.

Though he won two tournaments earlier this year, Roddick's record in the first three Grand Slams was unimpressive. So, come Flushing Meadows, Andy was expected to climb on to the stage and announce show time. A quarter-final against Sampras was anticipated with relish. At least the lad himself was not carried away. After subsiding to a straight-sets loss, he told the press: "You guys say Pete is washed up, but I've never said that."

The hullabaloo over Roddick is similar to the noises made over the arrival four or five years ago of the photogenic Jan-Michael Gambill, whose most impressive statistic of late is the number of Jaguar cars he has amassed. Perhaps the best bet for a new leading American will turn out to be the unassuming James Blake.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam