Roger Federer has hailed the “longevity and dominance” of Serena and Venus Williams, who face-off in the Indian Wells third round on Monday, and believes Serena’s comeback from maternity leave could be the “story of the year”.
Federer, who at 36 is ranked No. 1 in the world and has won a 20th Grand Slam title last January, was born just a month before Serena.
The Williamses are arguably the most famous siblings in sporting history and Federer has been around the tour for most of their careers.
Serena captured an Open Era-record 23rd Grand Slam while pregnant at the Australian Open last year while Venus is 37 and made two major finals in 2017.
“Longevity and dominance. They showed that,” Federer said when asked what strikes him the most about the two sisters.
“They had a massive arrival on the scene, a lot of buzz around them, and they lived up to the hype. Came out and crushed it.
“From the very beginning, they were very interesting to follow. I think they hardly played any juniors, really, which made it more of a mystery, because you just didn’t know exactly what to expect from them. And coming from being coached by their dad. I mean, it’s an incredible fascinating story.”
Both Venus and Serena have overcome serious health problems only to come back stronger.
Venus is living with the auto-immune disease Sjogren’s Syndrome while Serena has a pulmonary embolism in 2011 and also suffered from serious complications last year after delivering her first child, Olympia, as several blood clots had settled in her lungs.
Serena is back on tour, making her first WTA appearance since January 2017 this week at Indian Wells, and takes on Venus in what would be their 29th career showdown.
“For many years we were worried that they were going to check out early with sickness or injuries,” Federer continued talking about the sisters.
“We weren’t sure if they’re going to play as long as we hoped them to play. And here we are. They are both over 35, 36, and still basically playing at the top. Serena being a mum now, Venus overcame a lot of also difficult situations and still playing.
“Being older again than Serena, myself, it’s wonderful to see and I’m very happy for them,especially now watching Serena’s comeback since the baby. I think that’s going to be a huge story, maybe the story of the year. Hopefully she decides to play a lot and enjoy herself in the process and get back to who knows how high? It almost doesn’t matter, but it would just be amazing to see her do it now.
“And then now they are facing off here tonight. I think it’s great for the sport and they have done so much already. This is like the extra lap they are doing and the fans can enjoy it. So I’m very happy for them.”
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