28 Grand Slams. 117 titles. 3 Olympic Gold Medals. 288 weeks at World Number One. And counting.
It’s not easy being compared to the Williams sisters.
But, if anyone would seem up to the task, it would be Violet and Patricia Apisah, the sisters being hailed as the biggest double act in tennis since Serena and Venus took the WTA by storm all those years ago.
Violet (left) and her sister Patricia (right) – Image Source: Gregg Porteous (The Daily Telegraph)
Make no mistake, like Serena, Patricia’s time will well and truly come. But, for now, it’s Venus’ turn to shine. Venus, of course, is Violet Apisah, whose impressive 2015 ITF win-loss record of 21-4 is nothing compared to where Violet has come from… both figuratively and literally.
Born and raised in the PNG Capital, Violet, along with mother Maria and full-time father part-time coach Patrick, emigrated to Sydney in 2007. She didn’t have even the slightest idea she’d soon be hurtling down the road toward tennis stardom.
“Dad just put us in tennis camps,” Violet recalls, the tone of her voice conveying even she’s surprised at how far she’s come.
“We never thought about going this far, we were just having fun and then Dad saw that we were, like…” Violet’s humble, and is looking for a politer way to put it. Eventually she gives up and just tells it straight, tells it like the Williams sisters would’ve growing up. “We were just like smashing everyone.”
Violet and Patricia – Image Source: Gregg Porteous (The Daily Telegraph)
It’s not hard to imagine. With power off both wings and an innate ability to paint line after line with her groundstrokes, there’s clear talent here, the kind not able to be taught. In fact, it’s the kind that, with hard work and ruthless determination, can turn a good player into a frighteningly good one.
“We just started playing like actual tournaments when I was 12, and then ever since I’ve just progressed and gotten better.”
A 2014 season win-loss record of 26-6 brought two titles, and her 2015 reads 21-4 with three titles. So, which one was better?
“I think last year, more training and more titles, and losing less.”
Of course, when she says more ‘training’, she means more on-court and less as a form of travel, as Violet and Patricia used to catch public transport to their tournaments.
“Carrs Park (Violet’s local tennis center) and my Dad’s bosses helped us out getting a car.”
It begs the question: did they drive here to Melbourne Park?
“Yeah,” Violet says, laughing it off, the prospect of a nine-hour drive nothing out of the ordinary for her. Unquestionably, Violet and Patricia are doing it tough, but one gets the feeling they won’t be for much longer.
It also helps that, like the Williams sisters (you’re going to hear this phrase a lot over the next decade or so), theirs is a rivalry of the best and most productive kind.
“We train together and push each other,” she says, the warmth in her voice suggesting Patricia is as close to her on match day as the racquet she uses to blast opponent after opponent off the court.
“It doesn’t matter if we play each other, if she wins or I win… we travel together as a team, trying to be the best we can.”
They’re doing pretty damn well so far.
So, what’s Violet’s definition of ‘best’ in 2016? “Trying to play the grand slams, and trying to get into the 18 nationals and try to win that one as well.”
Indeed, second place doesn’t seem like home to Violet and, when asked who her idol was, her answer was as reaffirming as it was inevitable.
PS: There was a god-awful ‘Violet wants ‘Apisah’ the pie’ title I was going to run with, but out of respect to Violet (and comedy in general) I decided to give it a miss.