All in the Williams family
The Williams siblings are officially back in the game, and where they go, their family follows.
The sister act returned to the WTA Tour at the Eastbourne tournament last week. Venus had been out with a hip injury since the Australian Open in January. Serena had been sidelined since last year's Wimbledon after cutting her feet on glass and suffering a pulmonary embolism.
Venus was the first to see action at this year's Wimbledon, scoring a swift 6-3, 6-1 win over Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan in the first round Monday. As expected, making the courtside scene at Venus' match were dad Richard Williams, mom Oracene Price and sister Isha Price.
When asked whether she thought her family missed being on the tennis tour most of the past year, Venus struggled to answer. "I'm not sure about my mom," she said. "I have to ask her. I think my dad did. Maybe he didn't. I have to ask both. That would be an assumption."
Richard Williams weighed in on the subject on his own, saying, "No, I didn't miss it, as I've had enough tennis."
The patriarch of the family, however, went on to say he's happy to see his daughters back in action.
The sisters have virtually owned Wimbledon, winning nine of the past 11 titles -- Venus has won five, while Serena, the two-time defending champion, has won four. Only Maria Sharapova (2004) and Amelie Mauresmo (2006) have prevented an 11-year sweep of Wimbledon by the Williams sisters.
"I'm happy to see them back, and it looks like they're trying to play a little bit," Richard Williams said. "I think they're both ready. I think Serena would say, 'I'm going to go play Wimbledon on one leg because I'm that good.'"
Richard Williams was not as confident as usual that one of his daughters would walk away with the title. But he did suggest the other players are well aware his kids are back on track. "I think no one wants to play them right now because they're both so dangerous," he said.
Linking up with McIlroy
Rafael Nadal makes no secret that he's passionate about golf. He loves to play the sport and loves to watch it.
So it comes as no surprise that as soon as Rory McIlroy captured the U.S. Open in astounding fashion Sunday -- winning with an Open-record 16-under-par total of 268 -- Nadal sent his Irish amigo a message.
"I, for sure, text him a message," Nadal said after his 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 first-round win over Michael Russell of the United States. "You know how when you win a tournament like this, how many messages you have on the phone."
Nadal, a 10-time Grand Slam champion, spent some time between winning his sixth French Open title and Wimbledon playing golf at home in Mallorca, Spain. But he knows no matter how well he played he couldn't come close to McIlroy's league on the links.
"[He] was perfect, in my opinion," Nadal said. "He played solid yesterday, doing what he had to do all the time, [making] no mistakes."
Nadal is hoping to get to congratulate McIlroy in person next Monday, when the new U.S. Open champion is scheduled to attend Wimbledon.
Royal treatment for Rafa's parents
One of the regular talking points at Wimbledon is who receives a coveted invite to the Royal Box. On opening day, Nadal's divorced parents, Sebastian Nadal and Ana Maria Parera, were among the Royal Box guests. They watched their son open defense of his Wimbledon crown from the best seats in the house.
"For sure, [I] can just say thanks to the Wimbledon, to the people who organize this fantastic tournament to invite my mother and father to the Royal Box," Nadal said. "I think for them was a great experience."