Dominating sport at the highest level is one of the most arduous tasks imaginable.
For most elite athletes, being competitive and challenging for major championships throughout their career represents a fantastic achievement and, more often than not, a very good career.
The athletes that will be discussed in this piece, though, have done much more than just compete; they have become winners, entertainers, legends and icons.
What makes the achievements of this elite bunch even more remarkable, however, is that they’ve reigned supreme at the summit of their sport alongside their sibling.
Whether on the same side or against each other, here is a countdown of the top five sporting siblings of all time, which, of course, is open to debate.
Serena and Venus Williams
Serena and Venus a.k.a the Williams sisters are the greatest sporting sibling duo in history. Between them, they have reigned supreme over women’s tennis for over a decade and a half.
Collectively, the records are astonishing. As a duo, they have won 13 Grand Slam Women’s Doubles titles: Four Australian Opens (2001, 2003, 2009 and 2010), two French Opens (1999 and 2010), four Wimbledon’s (2000, 2002, 2008, 2009 and 2012) and two US Opens (1999 and 2009).
Add in three summer Olympics doubles titles (2000, 2008 and 2012) just for good measure, and you can safely say that the Williams sisters are the most dominant duo in the history of the women’s game.
Individually, though, the records are just as impressive; certainly in Serena’s case. Serena, who is the younger of the two siblings by just 15 months, has won an astonishing 21 Grand Slam singles titles, second to only Steffi Graff (22) in the Open era.
Famed for her powerful, aggressive and emotive style of play; Serena won her first Grand Slam (US Open 1999) aged just 17. I think it’s fair to say that from that point onwards she never really looked back.
A further five US Opens, six Australian Opens, three French Opens and six Wimbledon’s have led many observers to conclude that Serena is the greatest women’s player of all time. Williams continues to be at the top of her game, even at the age of 33.
In a recent interview from this year’s US Open, former men’s world number one, John McEnroe, stated: “She's the greatest female player I've ever seen”.
He went on to add that: “I think Serena is one of the all-time greatest athletes, period. Man or woman”. That is, perhaps, the greatest compliment Serena has ever had.
Despite not having the same success as her younger sister, Venus has still enjoyed an amazing career in her own right. Venus, along with Serena and Maria Sharapova are the only three female tennis players to have reached the final of all four Grand Slams in the Open era; a remarkable achievement.
A winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles, Venus dominated the mid-noughties at Wimbledon, where she was victorious in 2005, 2007 and 2008. The greatest years of her career were 2000 and 2001 where she won both Wimbledon and the US Open back-to-back.
The measure of Venus’ greatness can be summed up by one statistic: of the currently active players, her total of seven Grand Slam singles titles is second to only Serena. Venus is not only a brilliant player but also an inspirational spearhead away from the court.
Of the active players, she has been credited as being the most avid activist and supporter of equal pay in the game. In 2007, her efforts paid off when she received the same amount of prize money as Roger Federer for winning the Wimbledon Championship (both $1.4 million).
Before this achievement, she was quoted by the Chicago Tribune as saying: “Somewhere in the world a little girl is dreaming of holding a giant trophy in her hands and being viewed as an equal to boys who have similar dreams”.
Serena and Venus have enjoyed huge success as a collective unit and as individuals. Some of their best tennis, though, has come against each other. They have faced off 27 times in all competitions during their career, with Serena leading the head to head standings by 16 matches to 11.
At Grand Slams, they have battled it out in eight finals, a record only bettered by Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova (14). Serena, again, has the upper hand, leading her older sister by six to two.
Perhaps the most intriguing statistic which exemplifies the Williams’ dominance over the women’s game, though, is this: between 2002 and 2003 they competed in four Grand Slam finals in a row against each other (French Open 2002, Wimbledon 2002, US Open 2002 and the Australian Open 2003); a feat that has never been achieved again.
The Williams sisters are a dynasty. If either one of these two megastars never wins a single tennis tournament again, it would not matter; they have already solidified their place among the greats of the game.
Next in the Sibling Success series, I'll be profiling the careers of Heavyweight Boxing's brothers of destruction: The Klitschko's.
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