Sisters' father cannot bear to watch

LONDON Wed Jul 2, 2008 3:51pm BST

Serena (L) and Venus Williams of the U.S. talk to each other during their quarter-finals doubles match against Bethanie Mattek of the U.S. and Sania Mirza of India at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 2, 2008. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

Serena (L) and Venus Williams of the U.S. talk to each other during their quarter-finals doubles match against Bethanie Mattek of the U.S. and Sania Mirza of India at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 2, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Kieran Doherty

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LONDON (Reuters) - Richard Williams cannot bear to watch his daughters Venus and Serena play against each other so if they get to the final on Saturday he will be flying home to the United States instead.

Venus and Serena, who have six Wimbledon titles between them, are on course to clash for the third time in a Wimbledon final and Venus is looking for revenge after twice losing to her younger sister.

Their father, who nurtured their careers from an early age, is happy to cheer them on in their semi-finals on Thursday but the clash on the biggest stage in tennis is too painful for him.

"If your kids got into a fight with each other, could you stand to watch that? That's the way I feel," he told Reuters at Wimbledon.

"I feel that they are fighting against each other so I wouldn't watch it. I will be on a plane at 36,000 feet," he said. "It is too emotional for me."

Both Serena and Venus have won plaudits for slowly sharpening their skills from round to round at Wimbledon, which for them has always been a number one target.

Richard Williams agreed: "In their first matches they were struggling and then they were struggling a little less and a little less. I think they are peaking as they go."

What always intrigues Williams is how different Serena and Venus are -- both as personalities and as tennis players. One is introverted, the other an open book with her heart on her sleeve.

"When Venus is playing, you never know whether she is winning or losing. Venus just never lets nothing bother her."

In sharp contrast, he said Serena "could throw the racket down and break it up. She gets to talking to herself."

Asked the inevitable question about which of the two could emerge triumphant on Saturday, he quickly retorts "The winner, the one that makes the least amount of mistakes. Whoever steps up and takes the ball first is going to win."

Enraged and insulted by any suggestion they might contemplate deciding the result in advance, he said: "When Venus and Serena play each other, they do the best they can."

(Editing by Clare Lovell)

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