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Might as well get used to these sisters

There is awful news to report. Serena Williams has won Wimbledon again. The nerve of her.

This is terrible. Once again she beat her sister in the final of a Grand Slam. How will we go on?

It gets worse. Now more than ever, Serena is on top of Venus, and the two of them are on top of the world. Perhaps you should sit down.

All of this is a tragedy, some will tell you, because we have seen it before. Aha. Finally, there is a charge that will stick when it comes to Serena and Venus. They have become familiar. One can expect an apology any day now.

When did domination become a deadly sin? Did anyone notice the time when sustained excellence turned into a bad thing?

Evidently it has happened. Serena and Venus Williams have once more turned Wimbledon into an annual shopping trip for large, shiny plates, and tennis cannot get over itself because of it.

Stop your whining, people.

Shoot, you can't have any more than 10 or 12 years of it, tops.

For days now you have heard the moans about how the domination of the Williams sisters is a bad thing for tennis, about how the game really, really needs a new face in the finals, about the sheer contemptibility of the familiarity.

Well, bunk.

Yes, this is familiar stuff. It was the second straight meeting in the Wimbledon final, the sixth time the sisters have played in the past eight Grand Slams. If you watched only finals you'd be hard pressed to name another player on tour.

By now Serena is so used to winning tournaments that, when the final point was over Saturday, she didn't even celebrate. She didn't lift her arms, pump her fist or run a lap. She merely jogged to the net and embraced Venus. Then, only then, did she smile and wave to the crowd.

On the other hand, what's so bad about a dynasty? Did anyone complain when Michael Jordan won six titles? Did anyone grouse when Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert met in 14 Grand Slam finals? Did fans grow tired of seeing Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell after 49 regular-season meetings?

Put it this way: The next time you get tired of Venus and Serena, consider this. There were 128 episodes of Dawson's Creek. There have been 22 James Bond movies, 15 Mark Wahlberg movies, 13 original Weird Al Yankovic albums. There have been 10 Friday the 13th movies, the eighth Halloween comes out Saturday and there have been seven Nightmares on Elm Street. There have been five Rockys and four Jaws. For goodness sakes, Cats played for 18 years on Broadway.

With that in mind, ask yourself this:

Haven't we seen worse repeat performances than Serena and Venus?

Granted, the two of them have played a bit better than they did this time. Serena won 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, but the match was obviously affected by Venus Williams' stomach injury. Venus started quickly, winning an excellent first set, but she faded when the injury made it impossible to serve without pain.

The injury was severe enough that many thought the match would never come off. Venus was in obvious pain in her match against Kim Clijsters, and there was some thought she might withdraw.

Ah, can you imagine the speculation if that had happened? Already there has been scrutiny of every move by the sisters, and at times it has reached preposterous levels. It has been suggested their matches have been scripted, their outcomes orchestrated to benefit whichever sister needs victory more.

Serena calls that "an appalling" suggestion. Actually, it's an amusing one. Most of us can't get our children to clean out the garage. Richard Williams has two daughters so competitive they have taken over a sport, and supposedly he has them spending nights rehearsing who is going to win and how.

Still it was enough to make sure Venus went to the court and pushed the pain aside.

"Serena and I have taken a lot of (flak), so I felt I had to take one for the team," Venus said. "Serena and I have been played for a lot of things that never even happened. I felt I had to play today."

Why does such silliness continue to tail the Williams? Perhaps because they don't let the public in often, and then only so far. Perhaps it's because other players are a little paranoid. Perhaps it's because Richard, the father, is a bit of an odd duck.

Regardless, it is time to shut down all the suspicions and merely enjoy the ride. Put it this way: If Richard really is writing the scripts, the guy is Shakespeare. The first set of Saturday's play was the finest script since The Usual Suspects, which of course Serena and Venus usually are.

There was pain, there was passion. There were hairpin turns and surprising plot twists. There were family values and sibling rivalry. Also, there was pretty good tennis.

For that set Venus was once again the better of the two sisters. For her it must have been as if order had been restored in the family. Four straight times she had lost to her younger sister in a Grand Slam final, and although she maintained she was just swell with it, you got the feeling she was ready for this thing to be turned back around.

Despite her injury Venus jumped to a 3-0 lead. She moved well and kept Serena on her heels, and it seemed her injury wouldn't inhibit her at all. She won the set, only the second set she has won from her sister in their past five meetings.

It wouldn't last. As the match went on Venus' problems serving became more apparent. She double faulted eight times, with only one ace, and by the end she looked like a weekend player trying to steer her serve into the box.

"It was a domino effect," Venus said. "Once I started not using certain parts of my body, other parts started to go down. So I started injuring more areas. I couldn't run too fast. I couldn't stretch out too much. I was hitting serves in the net because it's harder to reach up."

By the third set Venus had to call for the trainers, hoping for "a magic pill." There was none to be had.

It was a gritty effort for a player who, as a youngster, was taught not to play with pain. Venus even impressed her sister with her toughness.

"She's tougher than I ever thought she was," Serena said. "I knew she was tough, but she's on a different level."

That level, for now, remains a rung below Serena's. She is 21 and has won five Grand Slams in 13 months, and she's No. 1. And still Serena admits that, had she been healthy, this day would have belonged to her sister.

"The way I played today, and the way Venus was playing, she would have been the Wimbledon champion this year." Serena said. "I think Venus is on a mission to be the best. As you can see in this tournament, she's playing the best."

Serena won. Venus took the silver.

You've seen it before. Unless the rest of the tour climbs to a higher ridge, you'll see it again. Hey, there have been seven Police Academies. Eighteen Mike Tyson fights since he was exposed by Buster Douglas.

Trust me on this.

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon.

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