Williams sisters played Ripken brothers in Baltimore when Venus was 13 and Serena was 12

Tennis legends were paired against Cal and Billy Ripken until charity event host Pam Shriver saw a mismatch.

Long before they carved their legacy into the sport of tennis, long before the younger of the two became arguably the greatest female champion in her sport, the Williams sisters came to Baltimore to play in an annual charity event run by Pam Shriver, then one of the top players in the women’s game.

It was the fall of 1993.

It was clear then listening to Richard Williams that his daughters Venus and Serena, 13 and 12 at the time, would take a different path to their professional careers than most of the top juniors. He wouldn’t allow them to play in junior tournaments even while training at Nick Bolletieri’s academy in Florida.

Most of the attention at the time surrounded Venus, though Richard Williams made it clear that he thought Serena would likely become the better of the two sisters. The past two decades have told them as much.

Initially, the Williams sisters faced the Ripken brothers in the one-set match as a prelude to the featured event between Jim Courier and Jimmy Connors. Recognizing that the Williams sisters were too good, Shriver quickly stepped in and divided the team.

Here is the story from the Baltimore Sun when the Williams sisters played the Ripken brothers in Baltimore as well a story on the phenomenon of Venus Williams.

Given their match in Tuesday’’s quarterfinals of the U.S. Open – the 26th meeting in a rivalry that Serena leads15-11 – it seemed fitting to remember when the Williams sisters introduced themselves in Shriver’s hometown.

  don.markus@baltsun.com

  twitter.com/sportsprof56   

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