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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some history for Serena and Venus Williams

1:16 AM, August 18, 2008

Serena Williams, left, and her sister Venus celebrate the gold medal in the women's doubles.

BEIJING -- Venus and Serena Williams, in their late 20s and with plenty of time left to change the history of tennis, were quizzed Sunday, after winning their Olympic doubles gold medal, about a future gold standard in the sport.

Did they realize, they were asked, that each was one major win away from a standard achieved by only two people in the world to date -- victories in singles in each of the Grand Slam tournaments (Australian, French, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open,) plus an Olympic gold medal?

The two people, of course, are married to each other -- Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. Graf did hers all in one year, the Seoul Olympic year of 1988. If she had done something like that in baseball or pro football, it would be talked about in whispered tones, a la Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.

But it's tennis, and the world yawns.

Venus Williams could match that by winning the French Open, the one gap in her resume. Serena has won all the majors, but lacks an Olympic gold.

"I never really thought about that," said Serena, who said earlier last week that she and Venus would be in London for the 2012 Games. "We just try to win in every event we can."

Venus said: "I see it a little differently. I see that Serena has two gold medals" in doubles.

If you were a betting person, your best wager for the Agassi-Graf Platinum achievement would be on Venus, who will have four more shots at the French before Serena can take to the tennis courts of London, assuming she is still active then.

As they get older, things like that will mean more to them. It certainly means a lot to Agassi and Graf.

-- Bill Dwyre

Photo: Serena Williams, left, and her sister Venus celebrate the gold medal in the women's doubles. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times