- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2002

PARIS (AP) A Williams is No.1, a Williams is No.2 and the French Open final is Williams vs. Williams.

How's that for fulfilling a father's prophecy?

Serena Williams tossed her racket 10 feet in the air after outlasting defending champion Jennifer Capriati 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 in a baseline bashfest. Just 1½ hours later, older sister Venus Williams simply smiled and waved after powering past Clarisa Fernandez 6-1, 6-4 in yesterday's second semifinal.

"History is definitely being made," Serena said. "Hopefully, one of us will win the French Open. Well, obviously, one of us will win the French Open."

When the new WTA Tour rankings are released Monday, they'll be the first siblings to sit 1-2: Serena's semifinal victory pushes her past Capriati to a career-best second, while Venus already was assured of overtaking Capriati at No.1.

Not once in the 20th century had siblings meet for a Grand Slam title; now it's about to happen for the second time in nine months. Venus whipped Serena 6-2, 6-4 in September's U.S. Open final, the first at a major between sisters since Wimbledon in 1884.

That lackluster match was typical of their encounters. The sisters never play as well against each other as they do against everyone else.

"We've reached the best of our profession," said Venus, who holds a 5-2 edge in family faceoffs. "Actually, I'd like to stay No.1, but I'd like to see Serena No.1 also. I'm not giving it up, but I'm sure she'll get there."

Their father, Richard Williams, long has predicted to the scoffing of some that his daughters eventually would collect a bunch of major titles and be Nos.1 and 2. He learned the game from magazines and videos so he could coach his girls, and he likes to say he knew when Venus was 4 she would be a star.

"Serena will be the best on the WTA Tour," he said in 1998. "But Venus has a lot of pride, and nothing will get in the way of her getting to No.1 first."

After tomorrow's final, the family total will rise to six Grand Slam singles titles. Serena got the first, at the 1999 U.S. Open. Venus has won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open the past two years.

Neither had been past the quarterfinals at the French Open before, but they've been tremendous this time. Venus has lost just 29 games in six matches, while Serena stopped Capriati's 12-match Grand Slam winning streak.

Venus needed just 19 minutes to win the first set against the 87th-ranked Fernandez the first unseeded semifinalist at Roland Garros since Capriati in 1990 and didn't allow a single winner by the Argentine until late in the match.

Serena vs. Capriati was magical at times and emotional throughout, with both players pumping fists, yelling at themselves, and producing stellar strokes.

The tenor of the match was established on the last point of the fourth game. There were enough shots to fill a highlight film, including saves of a lob and a net cord, until Serena's drop-shot try fell short. When the point ended, Serena took a knee at the baseline and put her racket on the ground like a batter in the on-deck circle. Capriati grabbed the top of the net and leaned on it.

Before the women took over Center Court, the men's quarterfinals were completed.

Andre Agassi's bid for an eighth major title was ended by 11th-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain; Marat Safin eliminated Sebastien Grosjean; and Alex Corretja, last year's runner-up, completed a victory over Andrei Pavel, who had just three hours of sleep after returning from Germany on Wednesday night following the birth of his son. Their match was stopped because of darkness Tuesday.

Today, Ferrero will play in his third straight French Open semifinal, facing Safin, the only man to make the semis at the last three majors. Corretja plays Albert Costa in an all-Spanish semifinal.

It's the second time since 1998 that a trio of Spaniards made the semis.

Not too shabby. But how about two players from one family in a final?

It's enough to make a mother wonder how to root. While Richard Williams Oracene Williams wouldn't take sides yesterday, she was leaning one way.

"This time, maybe, I don't know, I'd like Serena to get [a Grand Slam title], because she hasn't got one since '99," she said after watching her daughters' matches, "and that's what she wants so bad."


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