The New York Times magazine did a big feature on Venus Williams, the elder of the two game-changing tennis phenoms, posing the question about whether Venus has ever truly gotten the adulation she should have in her sport. Here is the cover from that issue:
It’s really stark and simple and beautiful. I’ve always loved and rooted for Venus. I hate when Venus and Serena play each other because I hate for either to lose; I want Venus to go out on a high, and win another Wimbledon, but I also want Serena to smash Margaret Court’s record and set an impossible one of her own. I appreciate how hard they pursue their sport, and that they both follow passions outside of it. They’re just cool, in addition to being trailblazing.
As for the question of legacy, it’s a fair thing to wonder. Serena’s spotlight is so strong, her achievements and her trophies so many, that it has almost eclipsed the rest of the women’s game, which doesn’t have a consistent Djokovic or Nadal or even Murray to her Federer.
It’s easy to stand in the present and get distracted, even a little blinded, by the klieg light of Serena. She’s flashy; she’s extroverted. Her talent is so singular that it feels as if it dropped whole from the heavens, a dense, crystalline meteorite of athletic prowess and drive. Venus, a year older, seems more earthly and understated. If you’re not deliberately looking through Serena’s glare — if you don’t hold up a prism and refract Serena’s achievement into its constituent parts — you’ll lose sight of what a star Venus is.
But Venus was out there causing a stir and taking some of the hits first, if not always the hardest.
It seems inevitable now, but it was not. Venus, out front, alone, was followed by Serena, and behind her Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Taylor Townsend, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff. Venus was the lead rider breaking the headwinds in the peloton, the rabbit pulling the runners behind her to world-record pace. Venus allowed young women, ‘African-American women especially, to feel there’s a pathway for them to the top of the tennis world,’ Pam Shriver, who won 22 Grand Slam doubles titles between 1981 and 1991, told me.
I thought it was behind a paywall, but I think actually you can read it with a free account? Give it a shot, anyway.