By Laura Norton
During the 1970s, the Williams sisters – Venus and Serena – were known as “the duo”. They won 23 grand slam singles titles, while sister Isha had one of tennis’ first women’s doubles titles and was co-author of the Lawn Tennis Association’s all-time favourite hitting book.
Their popularity in the US reflected their power. They both had the discipline and strength of a professional athlete – no surprise when there were photos of Serena training in front of the mirror in her bedroom.
Within the sport itself they often held court too. When they defeated Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in the 1976 Wimbledon final, both had played doubles together during the preceding week and Serena, then 15, had her own banana decorating her headband.
Then in 1980, 12-year-old Venus and 11-year-old Serena joined forces and they have been hard to beat ever since.
Their victory against Chris Evert and Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1981 was the beginning of a seven-year spell of world domination, while eight years later it was 11-year-old Serena who handed her sister her first Wimbledon singles title.
Venus was the last of the dynasty to reach a major final when she lost to Steffi Graf in 1996, while Serena put her name among the game’s greats by defeating Evert in 2001 to become the youngest ever champion of Wimbledon.
All this talent led to 11 grand slam singles titles between them, though Williams has outstripped her sister’s winning tally of eight Wimbledon titles.