What We Can Learn About Sibling Rivalry From Serena and Venus Williams

Serena and Venus Williams share a hug after Serena’s victory over her big sister on Tuesday night. (Photo: Corbis Images)

After Serena Williams beat her sister Venus on Tuesday night in a competitive three-set U.S. Open quarterfinals match, the two met at the net and embraced. Venus, the older Williams sibling, whispered to her sister: “I’m so happy for you.”

Now Serena stands to win all four Grand Slam titles this year, which would make her the first tennis player to do so in 27 years. And her biggest supporter? Her sister. “That would be a huge,” Venus said in a press conference after Tuesday’s match. “Not just for me, but for my family. Just for what it represents and how hard we have worked and where we come from. So it would be a moment for our family.”

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It was just another example of the incredible relationship between the Williams sisters: fierce competitors, but also best friends. Or, as Serena explained after her win: “Obviously we are very, very tough competitors on the court but once the match is over, the second it’s done, you know, we’re sisters, we’re roommates, and we’re all that.“

Serena Williams beat her sister in a tough three sets to advance to the U.S. Open semifinals. (Photo: Corbis Images)

With such high-stakes — and high-profile — competition, it would have been easy for Venus and Serena to bear some resentment or hostility toward each other. But there’s no indication of that. “I don’t think they’d be able to do what they do if they didn’t have an incredibly strong and solid bond between them,” Dr. Josh Sparrow, author of Understanding Sibling Rivalry: The Brazelton Way, tells Yahoo Parenting. “I don’t know what happened in that family, but I wish I did because they are amazing. I have to guess there was a whole lot of love going on that lets them take the huge risk of being on the court together.”

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Most impressive, Sparrow says, is the women’s ability to lay it all on the court, and come out smiling on the other side. “The amazing part to me is the strength of the bond necessary to withstand the competition,” he says. “The loyalty and the commitment between them has to be unconditional in order for them to be psychologically strong enough to play with each other and know they don’t have to worry what will happen to the relationship. That’s an…

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