But we have combined them in every way for some obvious reasons, but frankly, that's not fair to Venus.
Venus Williams is a better champion than Serena Williams. More elegant, more gracious.
On Tuesday, Venus starts defense of her title at Wimbledon, where she has a royal feel. She is the queen. And in the most elegant place in tennis, Venus stands apart.
Why is this her best event?
"Everyone asks me that," she said. "My answer is, 'Why not?' I have just a great feeling at this tournament. It's great to be a part of history. I already am. If I can step it up a notch, it will be even more of an honor."
Yes, the pick here is that she will win her sixth Wimbledon title this year, and will face Serena in the final.
Which, of course, means that Venus won't be standing out.
But she raises a great question: Where does she stand in history? She said she's not trying to match up with Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Billie Jean King, who have won more Wimbledons than she has. (She would tie King this year).
Venus is among the best players ever, but she's not in the discussion for best ever.
Serena is the better player overall, and that's how people will look back. But to me, Venus is the better champion in the now.
And Serena is starting to bring down Venus' legacy. I have been critical of Serena, mostly because she doesn't bother to reach her potential. A few weeks ago, I wrote that she should be bigger than Tiger Woods, but her lack of commitment to fitness and to fire in non-majors -- in contrast to Woods' commitment and permanent fire -- are big reasons she is doing herself in. As the most talented player in the history of tennis, a smart, well-spoken, attractive Serena could be everything.
Well, I received hundreds of comments from readers, and many of you agreed, saying that the Williams sisters are not good champs because they're not committed and not gracious, either, never crediting an opponent for beating them.
But the thing is, I wasn't talking about Venus. None of that applies to her.
Yet Serena's image is clearly rubbing off on Venus. Also, Serena's love of celebrity.
That doesn't apply to Venus, either.
But the sisters are always lumped into one. Venus is not Serena and Serena is not Venus.
As far as I can tell, Venus always credits her opponents after her losses. Sometimes, Serena does, too, actually.
Venus was far more hyped than Serena when she arrived on tour. She was supposed to be the greatest player ever, to change the face of the game, and to provide a needed spark in tennis.
The only place Venus has fallen on that is in being the greatest ever.
She is not going to reach that height. But that wasn't from lack of effort or focus.
A few years ago, I talked to Venus and Serena at a charity function in Chicago for a children's hospital. Serena was in a bad mood about something, talked on her cellphone. Venus smiled and spoke up, a big sister taking care of her little sister, being the leader.
The problem with Serena isn't that she's a bad player or person. It's that she's not reaching her ceiling, which is higher than Venus'.
Venus is always in shape. Always. She shows up prepared. She's intelligent. She makes the most of herself.
Exactly why anyone would have a problem with Venus is impossible to figure out, The truth is, they have both been great for the game. And with Rafael Nadal's knees already failing him on the men's side, and a procession of women's players leaving the game under physical or mental burnout -- Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati -- it's becoming clear how lucky tennis has been to have its two biggest women's stars around for so long.
Venus and Serena have combined to win seven of the nine Wimbledon titles this decade.
There I go, talking about them as one.
Venus, now 29, played her first Wimbledon in 1997.
"Serena and I, we often talk about (the women who left), wonder what happened to them," Venus said. "We're still here and we're not leaving. It's been a real blessing to have success that we've had, and to be able to be still playing great tennis at this point with the outlook of still playing great tennis for years to come."
Venus said she wants to play for the U.S. team in the 2012 Olympics in London, and sees herself playing into her mid-30s.
Women's tennis has been needing someone to take over. Several players have been ranked No. 1 over the past 12 months, and Serena doesn't commit enough and current No. 1 Dinara Safina has never won a major and has choked in the final of the last two.
Venus is not far from having the points for the No. 1 ranking. I'm not sure she's good enough to dominate the game, but just watch these next two weeks at Wimbledon, the most elegant place in tennis.
Watch how well Venus fits in.
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