1997 Quarterfinal, Lindsay Davenport def. Venus Williams 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(7-1).
1997 was Venus Williams' first year as a fulltime WTA Tour player, and when we tennis enthusiasts learned that ESPN2 planned to televise her quarterfinal night match live, we planned accordingly.
Early in the match Davenport was all business. In stark contrast was Williams who appeared surprised that the match was being televised as she smiled and waved to the camera crew.
This was the first opportunity many Americans had to see either Williams sister play tennis as they'd been for the most part kept off the WTA Tour by Mr. Williams. Williams and her younger sister Serena had both been somewhat urban legends already as teenagers.
Although she was unable to hold off her fellow American in the third set, Williams posted a good showing before her loss. She was obviously a different type of tennis player: remaining standing on changeovers instead of sitting, Black in an almost exclusively all-White sport, a thousand tiny multi-colored beads rustling in her hair with her every move, 110 plus miles per hour serves hit down the tee seemingly at will and a baseline game to die for.
Then after the match during the oncourt interviews, Venus introduced us to her unfailingly positive attitude which along with the beads would become two of the Williams sisters' trademarks. In defeat she'd expressed delight that her WTA Tour ranking would the next week she thought move up “in the seventies.”
1999 Final, Serena Williams def. Steffi Graf 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
Graf of Germany in 1988 had won all four of the grand slams plus the Summer Olympics. And in 1999, Graf still remained a major force on the WTA Tour. Serena Williams then only 17 years old already liked to take immediate control of as many points as possible, but was forced into extended baseline rallies by Graf, who was one of the best movers on the tour.
The two players battled for three sets before Serena served perhaps better near the match's end to close it out in her favor.
After the last point, Williams jumped up and down from the baseline to the net in an exuberant impromptu celebration. Graf, gracious in her loss, kissed Williams on both cheeks; a common European greeting but a rarity in a Williams' postmatch net exchange. Graf had not lost a final since 1994.
“They don't have any weaknesses in their games,” Graf would say of the Williams sisters.