Injuries and health scares have plagued Serena Williams and Venus Williams‘ tennis careers for a long time. Despite that, they have triumphed everywhere they competed. But while they have demonstrated their remarkable ability to bounce back on multiple occasions, two devastating incidents early in their careers remain particularly memorable due to their controversial nature.

At the height of her career, former World No. 1 Venus Williams’ biggest rival was undoubtedly her little sister. The two regularly met in the later stages of premier tournaments all over the world, and during Wimbledon 2004 everybody hoped for a repeat of the previous year’s final matchup. However, an unforeseen mistake brought all these dreams crashing down – making Venus Williams’ already disappointing season even worse. The mistake was not an isolated incident. That same year, Serena Williams would suffer greatly from bad calls too.

The single point that turned the tide against Venus Williams


Article continues below this ad

In 2004, Venus Williams’ second-round Wimbledon victory against a young Croatian, Karolina Sprem, was decisively hinging on the tiebreaker. As Sprem served at 1-2, the line judge called ‘out’. Williams returned the serve and Sprem rallied once. As she returned to hit her second serve, one of the biggest unprecedented errors to have occurred in Centre Court happened.

The official chair umpire for the match, Ted Watts, awarded a point to Sprem, calling ‘2-all’. Despite surprised looks all around, the match continued and Sprem served. With Williams’ winning return down the line, Watts called out the score: ‘3-2’ for Williams instead of ‘3-1’. Erroneously giving away an extra point to Sprem turned the entire momentum of the tie-breaker and the match. Venus ultimately lost.

via Reuters

At the time, neither of the players spoke up. Venus was gracious, even in her defeat. Later, she said, according to the Gainesville Sun, “Sometimes I do lose track of the score, and I just felt that maybe I had lost track again”. However, due to her unsportsmanlike conduct, Sprem found herself on the receiving end of harsh criticism.

The most vocal was Serena Williams, Venus’s younger sister, who said, “I think as a competitor and as a professional you should be able to distinguish right and wrong. I’ve never been in a situation but I’m an honest individual and if I were in that situation I know I would make the right choice.” Little did Serena know then that she would also face a similar issue soon.

Read More: ‘It’s Not Venus Or Serena Or Roddick’- Aged American Tennis Guru Surprises Tennis World As He Uncovers His Favorite Student In An Upright Revelation

Serena Williams similarly crashed out of the US Open


Article continues below this ad

Venus managed to remain calm through her adversity. But Serena Williams couldn’t help but express her disappointment when a similar incident happened to her. In her quarterfinal match-up against rival Jennifer Capriati in the US Open 2004, the umpire Mariana Alves made a bad call. Serena had been serving at deuce and hit a backhand. Though many claimed that it was clearly in, the umpire overturned the line judge’s call, giving the advantage to Capriati.

An incensed Serena commented after crashing out of the Grand Slam, “At first I thought it was another Wimbledon conspiracy. I thought [Alves] just got the score wrong, and I wanted to clarify that I had won the point because I know my shots and I saw the ball. And I knew it was in. I said, ‘OK. Wait a minute now. I just want to make sure the score was right and it was my advantage.’ ”

via Imago

The Williams sisters faced such controversial calls almost back-to-back in the same year at major tournaments. Do you think that these errors cost the Williams sisters pivotal chances at Grand Slam glory? Let us know in the comments below.


Article continues below this ad

Watch This Story: Little Girl’s Adorable Struggle With Golf Forces Serena Williams’ Husband to Relate to Her Plight as He Trolls His Own Progress