And just like that, the whimsy-laden word "dramatical" enters the lexicon.

Reminiscing about her first-ever Grand Slam doubles title alongside sister Serena, Venus Williams went in depth in an Instagram post about the 1999 Roland Garros women's doubles final, the pair's first of 14 Grand Slam doubles crowns.


It was a grudge match, to be sure. Martina Hingis was across the net from the Williams sisters, and as anyone with more than cursory knowledge of tennis history is aware, no love was lost among them. Hingis was the defending doubles champion (alongside Jana Novotna) at the event, and came into Paris with the 1999 Australian Open title under her belt, with current partner Anna Kournikova. The duo had been dubbed the "Spice Girls" of tennis, and it was true, their volleys were saucy.

Hingis and Kournikova entered the event as the No. 2–seeded team, with the Williamses at No. 9. Each had come off remarkable semifinal performances, with Hingis and Kournikova outlasting Nathalie Tauziat and Alexandra Fusai in three sets, while the Williamses pinned down Lindsay Davenport and Mary Pierce by a 6-4, 6-1 score.

As Venus retold it, "I remember in the match we were up a set and 5-3 when hubris got the best of me. I got overconfident and didn’t focus on winning each and every point. I figured the title was ours. That could not have been further from the truth. The score became even and then I remember being the exact opposite of confident and getting so tight I couldn’t perform until late in the third set."

She continued, in subtly hilarious fashion: "It was all very dramatical. There were so many rain delays and the wind started to blow the clay around in waves across the court. The final had gone from straightforward to a downright saga. In the end we won the first of 14 Grand Slams, but I learned a powerful lesson. Never let up! This photo of us lifting the trophy shows the final triumph but doesn’t tell the story and the battle that occurred to get there. The journey is the best part!"

When said and done, the count was 6-3, 6-7 (2), 8-6. It was not without its hijinks, though, and its scintillating tandem play, as evidenced by the highlight reel.

Thus ends the lesson, for players of all abilities—don't seek to arrive at your match's destination before the numbers say you're there. You might find yourself in the fight of your tennis life.