On Labor Day (Sept. 7), a day of rest, my mind was moving a mile a minute. I was preparing myself mentally for the epic match-up between Serena and Venus Williams. I purchased my ticket to their fifth U.S. Open bout—their 27th meet-up career-wise—for the following day, triple-checking to make sure my coveted stub was still in my Ticketmaster account. I couldn’t believe I was about to watch two of the greatest athletes in the world, no matter how far up my seat was.
Location 319 was the epitome of nosebleed at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Knowing that my iPhone could only zoom in at a certain distance, I decided to research mini lenses to attach to the Apple device. I found one that could work, but I decided to utilize their chat feature to make sure it was worth the $59.99 price tag. My Applecare specialist answered all of my questions and asked what purpose the lens would serve. I then gushed about my excitement of seeing the Williams sisters in action Tuesday night, and wanting to make sure I got a clear image. The Apple rep expressed her jealousy. “I’ll be watching from my couch,” she wrote. I was unable to purchase the Olloclip lens ahead of the match since an in-store pickup wasn’t available, but before writing our thank you’s and goodbye’s, she also shared her Standom for Serena, typing, “She’s amazing! And Venus is great too, in her own right, but Serena takes the cake!”
That was one of the last pro-Serena statements I heard before I filed into the arena on Tuesday (Sept. 8). Those that were sitting close to the action made statements similar to “Venus was the star first.” Even Row S seemed to be a Venus-fans only section. Now, I’m a supporter of both sisters, though my praise can fall in favor of Serena at times. Still, I assumed the crowd favorite would’ve been her since she’s on track for a calendar Grand Slam. History didn’t matter to the highly energetic lady sitting to my right. Every time Serena won a set, the woman would slap her kneecaps. They were probably fire engine red by the end of a nearly two-hour sporting event. “Go Venus!” echoed throughout the venue louder than Serena’s supporters, and yes, only one can make it to victory, but maybe I was expecting the poll to swing in favor of the younger sis. Even on the Internet, article after article called for Serena’s demise. I’m 100 percent sure there were other Serena fans of the international champion sprinkled throughout the stadium or watching at home. Even an older man said, “Serena is the ultimate closer in an individual sport.” But IRL, during their match, people praised Venus more than her sibling. The crowd cemented their on-court rivalry even if the dynamic sisters didn’t see it that way.
“She’s the best player I’ve ever played in my life, and the best person I know,” Serena said in a post-game interview. “So it’s going against your best friend and at the same time for me going against the greatest competitor in women’s tennis.”
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Unlike some spectators, I couldn’t choose which sister I wanted to see advance to the semifinals. I was just blessed to be in the building. This was my first time attending a tennis match, let alone watching the Williams play each other. It was a bucket-list dream to be there in-person, watching their emotions go from excitement after scoring an ace to frustration after one sister outsmarted the other. Whoever ended up the winner didn’t matter to me. They elevate each other better than any other opponent, and when one beats the other, it’s still a win for both parties. Even if my Instagrams aren’t picture perfect, witnessing history kept me in the right frame of mind.