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December 06, 2001

Tiger is from Mars but how about Venus?
By Dan Patrick

Another weekend, another record-setting obliteration of the PGA Tour by Tiger Woods. As I have said before, just enjoy it. Woods is doing something very special right now. But the other sport they play at country clubs also has a young, gifted, black athlete who may be dominating her sport as much as Woods is dominating his.

 Tiger Woods
Venus Williams is seeking a second straight Grand Slam title.

Down the road from Bristol in New Haven this past weekend, Venus Williams sailed through the Pilot Pen tournament, a fairly busy U.S. Open tune up event. She now has won four consecutive titles and 19 consecutive matches. She has not lost a match since the quarterfinals of the French Open. She has beaten Lindsay Davenport 4 of the last 5 times they have met and has done the same to Martina Hingis 3 of the last 4. She won her first major this year, too, at Wimbledon.

Does that remind you of anyone?

It seems to me that Venus is being overshadowed a bit by Tiger, which is understandable. But there are other reasons Venus has not been getting her due. Her sister Serena, for instance. Serena, a wonderful tennis player in her own right, had a real career boost in 1999 when she won the U.S. Open. Most people felt Venus would win the first Grand Slam event in the Williams family but she battled some nagging injuries last year and Serena would not be denied. I think, all health concerns aside, Venus is the better player with more speed and athleticism. We'll see.

Like Tiger, Venus has a father who has heavily shaped her career as a coach and mentor. And Richard Williams has managed to divert some attention away from his daughters; at Wimbledon, for example. Through it all, Venus has continued to develop as a tennis player and has learned how to win.

Venus' daunting athletic gifts could change the game of women's tennis the way Tiger is changing the game of golf. Watch the U.S. Open over the next two weeks. If Venus plays Davenport or Hingis, expect it to feel like Tiger playing Ernie Els or Phil Mickelson. Same game, different sports. And if Venus wins the Open, thus finishing the year with 2 grand slams along with her other titles, we'll know who had the second best year in sports.

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