Sister Sets

July 07, 2000|By Michael Ollove

In the perfect storm that roiled around Venus and Serena Williams the last few days, you'd almost think no sisters had ever played each other in an important Wimbledon match before. Ha! Why, if two sisters met back in 1885, everyone would have said, "Yeah? So what?"

That's because the previous year, in the very first women's singles tournament at Wimbledon, Maud Watson beat her older sister Lilian. And not in any semifinal, either. Maud dusted off sis for the championship.

So you see, tennis fans, not everthing that happens under the sun is brand new just because television cameras are rolling. Not all that much has changed in 116 years. Or has it?

No one knows exactly what the Watson sisters' game was like, although Alan Little, a librarian at the Wimbledon Museum, who wrote an official pamphlet on Maud, is certain they wouldn't have belonged on the same court as the Williamses. "I've just come back from the court where the Williamses played. The speed and power...I'm sure the ladies in 1884 were nothing like that."

Still, at least so far, Maud Watson has something Venus doesn't. A Wimbledon championship.

Source: "Maud Watson, The First Wimbledon Lady Champion" by Alan Little.

1884 2000

The sisters Maud, 19, vs. Lilian, 26 (above) Serena, 18, vs. Venus, 19 (right)

The Winner Kid sister, 6-8, 6-3, 6-3 Big sis, 6-2, 7-6

The Winnings Silver flower basket, value

430,000 pounds if she wins tomorrow

10 guineas

Participants 13 128 who must qualify for tournament

The coach Father Richard, owner

Father Henry, vicar

of private security firm

Favored

attire (1884) Light wool, ankle-length skirt with small bustle and long-sleeve silk jersey

blouse. Allows for maximum while showing minimum skin

(2000) Self-designed, form-fitting, microfiber dress, with halter neckline, sports bra

top, and micro-mini-skirt. Allows for maximum movement while showing

maximum skin.

On top Sailor's cap Orange hair

Winner's on-

court demeanor

(1884) "An ideal temperament...her cool quiet concentration often upset her more excitable opponents.

(2000) "Venus is a powerhouse, serving consistently at 115-120 miles per hour"

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