Breaking the Mould with Serena and Venus

On Sunday the 4th of November, I attended my first ever live tennis match. Now, I know that might seem weird as I am a huge tennis fan, but circumstances meant that I missed the SA Open and Soweto Open in previous years, as well as various Davis Cup fixtures. On Sunday however, I was to break the mould myself as I went to Ellis Park Tennis Arena along with my fiance for the Williams sisters exhibition match.

At the newly refurbished Ellis Park Arena

At the newly refurbished Ellis Park Arena

The day started incredibly with an amazing exhibition match that featured South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis players Evans Maripa and Kgothatso Montjane, who were partnered by 17 year old Lynn Kiro and Illse Hattingh the countries top Under 16 and 18 player. Maripa and Kiro won the 6 game exhibition match by a score of 4-2. The excitement was building.

Evans Maripa serves in the curtain raiser

Evans Maripa serves in the curtain raiser

Next up the sell out crowd was treated to the vocal abilities of beat boxer Cyber with a completely new and impressive take on Who rule the World by Beyonce. This was followed up by the evergreen PJ Powers singing a song that she wrote as the anthem for the breaking the mould campaign. The crowd was more excited than twi-hards at the launch of the final twilight book. The ball boys and girls were in the tunnel with the kind of excitement that could only be fully described by seeing it.

Now I must tell you, I was at Soccer City for the opening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, I was also at Loftus in 2004 when the Bulls won the Currie Cup final and at Atridgeville Stadium when Pirates beat Sundowns and in all honesty, the moment when Serena and Venus walked onto the court will leave as long lasting a memory as any of the above mentioned events. The goosebumps were as real as Serena and Venus about to embark on their first ever match on South African soil. Poor MC, Graeme Richards, was silenced by the screaming horde.

Fans were overly excited by the chance to see their heroes

Fans were overly excited by the chance to see their heroes

If you have ever watched an exhibition match before, you will know that they are usually more relaxed feeling with a few trick shots in them. But the sisters promised before they came out that they would go all out for the win and that is exactly what they did. Serena, the 15 time major singles winner, who became only the second women in history to win the career golden slam by winning the Olympic Singles this year (Steffi Graf the other), was victorious on the day with a scoreline of 6-3 6-4 over her older sister Venus. Venus of course has won 7 singles grand slams herself. The match was highlighted by some brilliant stroke play by both sisters, some entertaining banter between both of them and from the audience and some great dodge ball moves by the lines judges who were repeatedly almost hit by Venus!

Venus and Serena rest between games being watched by Fikile Mbalula

Venus and Serena rest between games being watched by Fikile Mbalula

The result at the end of the day was not important, the message was though and it was delivered with the class and style that is so easily associated with the Americans. To Octagon and the other sponsors, thank you for organising this and for once again highlighting that South Africa are ready to get back on the map in terms of hosting World Tennis events. To the Breaking the Mould crew, thank you and keep the message going. And of course to Venus and Serena, thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking the mould and shattering it to pieces! I will definitely be shouting a little bit louder for the sisters in future!

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

Serena Williams Factfile:

Age: 31
Current Ranking: 3
Career Singles Titles: 46
Grand Slam Singles Titles:15 – Australia (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010), French (2002), Wimbledon (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012), US Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012)
Olympic Games: Singles Champion (2012),  Doubles Champion (2000, 2008, 2012)
Career Doubles Titles: 22
Grand Slam Doubles Titles: 13 – Australia (2001, 2003, 2009, 2010), French Open (1999, 2010), Wimbledon (2000, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2012), US Open (1999, 2009)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles Titles: 2 – Wimbledon (1998), US Open (1998)

Venus Williams warms up before the game starts

Venus Williams warms up before the game starts

Venus Williams Factfile:

Age: 32
Current Ranking: 24
Career Singles Titles: 44
Grand Slam Singles Titles:7 – Wimbledon (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008), US Open (2000, 2001)
Olympic Games: Singles Champion (2000),  Doubles Champion (2000, 2008, 2012)
Career Doubles Titles: 20
Grand Slam Doubles Titles: 13 – Australia (2001, 2003, 2009, 2010), French Open (1999, 2010), Wimbledon (2000, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2012), US Open (1999, 2009)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles Titles: 2 – Australia (1998), French (1998)

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