CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — What a week for the Williams sisters.
Serena gained a title, Venus found a renewed belief in her game and both showed a calm confidence at the Family Circle Cup born of perspective and enduring difficult times.
Serena capped a dominant week with a powerful performance in the finals Sunday, defeating Lucie Safarova 6-0, 6-1 to win the championship. It was Serena Williams’ 40th career tournament title and her first win on clay since taking this event in 2008.
“It all came together a little bit,” Serena Williams said. “So hopefully I can improve on this and just use it as one block of building.”
Sister Venus has similar hopes. The 31-year-old star and seven-time grand slam winner was playing just her second tournament since an autoimmune disease — Sjogren’s syndrome — kept her sidelined for more than six months. Venus Williams reached the quarterfinals in her return at the Sony Ericsson Open and did the same here, showing off some solid tennis of her own in her first clay-court event in two years. Venus nearly made it to the semifinals, missing out on her first matchup with Serena since 2009 when Samantha Stosur rallied to win.
Then Serena got a bit of sisterly revenge, ousting Stosur in dominating 6-1, 6-1 fashion.
Still, Venus’ effort moved her up about 60 spots in the rankings from where she started last month at 134th in the world. “I’ve never been so happy to be ranked 70,” Venus said with a smile.
It was that sort of tournament for the Williamses, who both showed an easy grace throughout the Family Circle.
Serena cracked herself up plenty after matches, joking about having the game to defeat friend Andy Roddick or having her dogs pop out in the media room after beating Safarova.
“I hated seeing her in here,” Serena said of her dog, Jackie. “That’s my baby girl, though.”
Serena, 30, said she’s got plenty on her plate off the court which keeps her mind free for tennis when it’s time to compete. Williams spoke of re-launching her clothing line on a TV shopping network and papers she’s got due for school that she hasn’t done.
She’s even thought of moving to Paris, which she’s said several times is her favorite city.
“Yeah, I was thinking about it and I told my mom the other day, how would she feel if I moved to Paris,” Serena said. “I didn’t tell my dad, though.”
Venus, 31, spent more time discussing her changed attitude about tennis than about what strokes she needed to improve.
“I think a lot of people go into matches and they’re worried about their game,” Venus Williams said. “I don’t worry about that anymore, so my priorities are completely different.”
Williams was honored to help celebrate the legacy of women’s tennis at the Family Circle. She took part in a gala dinner Friday night in honor of the sport’s “Original 9” players led by Billie Jean King who started the women’s pro tour in 1970. Three years later, the WTA was founded and the Family Circle began. “So I feel grateful to have this job,” Venus said with a nod to the founders.
There was a time when about the only priority for both sisters was coming out on top. The two have combined for 20 grand slam titles — Serena has 13, Venus seven — and their matchups were can’t-miss affairs for the sport. During one stretch in 2002 and 2003, Serena won five grand slam championships and beat Venus in the finals of each.
Venus has had her wins over Serena, too, coming out on top over her younger sister in the 2001 U.S. Open and the 2006 Wimbledon championships. These days, the two seem content with their games and places in the sport.
They tried to stoke up some fire for the potential semifinal meeting, but none of it got very far. Serena was more pointed than Venus about going after the French Open title — only one of Serena’s major championships came at Roland Garros — and how the Family Circle win was a great starting point.
“I’m just focused on the moment,” she said.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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