Saturday, March 31, 2007

And Then There Were Two

Serena Williams and Justine Henin hadn't met in a WTA Tour match since the summer of 2003 - a span of nearly four years.

You remember it well, don't you? Henin had just pulled her "No, I didn't put my hand up, Serena, keep playing!" bit at the French Open and with the help of the help of a largely anti-American crowd, Williams crumbled in the third and Justine won her maiden Slam title.

It was just four weeks later when Serena got her revenge, pounding Henin in straight-set fashion on Centre Court at Wimbledon to win her first Wimbledon crown and send a message to the WTA Tour: the Serena Slam isn't over.

It was a time in tennis that was aching for a feisty rivalry. The Russians were just blooming while Capriati, Davenport and Venus had begun to wilt. The diminutive Belgian couldn't have been more of an opposite to the large-and-in-charge play of one S. Williams.

Yet the next time the two of these tennis greats would meet was today, in the finals of the Sony Ericsson. It was a match that was full of drama (as usual) and some pretty good tennis. But most of all, it was a match of the two best women on the tour right now, hands down.

While 2003 may have needed this rivalry bad, '07 needs it worse, much worse. The women's tour is going through what we're beginning to see as a re-invention stage, and though there are many up-and-coming teens to cheer about, two veterans are the glue keeping this gig together.

So to a healthy, and happy year for both Serena and Justine. May their matches be dramatic, erratic and mostly entertaining. For if we are to see a rivalry form between the two, this is the year.

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