Tennis stars Serena Williams and Venus Williams have played each other 27 times in the span of 17 years. Their most recent match, the U.S. Open, resulted in a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 win for Serena.
After almost conducting her usual enthusiastic celebration, Serena stopped and hugged her sister Venus. Serena moved on in the U.S. Open, but her performance raised questions among some in the audience. They wondered if Serena let her sister win some rounds, and if her goal to win would overcome even her family.
Student-athletes face a similar struggle in their sports, although on a much smaller scale. They have the opportunity to thrive at an activity they enjoy, but the experience could be tainted by a sibling who excels at the sport. Even if one sibling does not outshine the other, some siblings have to deal with constant comparison from coaches, teammates, and even parents.
However, many siblings do not feel the heat of sibling rivalry when it comes to competitive sports. In fact, most siblings try to avoid comparison while supporting each other.
“Our teammates know it would be rude to compare us,” sophomore Angela Nguyen said.
Nguyen says she doesn’t have to deal with being compared to her sister, Jennifer Nguyen, in tennis; some of her teammates don’t even know that Nguyen and her older sister are related.
“She’s been playing longer so she probably is better at tennis than I am,” Nguyen said. Older siblings might be better at a sport, but the younger brother or sister just needs to be given the same amount of time for a reasonable comparison.
In team sports, comparisons might be more common as differences are more obvious.
“We get compared a lot,” junior soccer player Shelby Bartlett said of her sister Ashlyn.
Bartlett and her older sister played on Bear Creek’s varsity girls’ soccer team together for two years. Bartlett said that she and her older sister, who is now a freshman in college, were never super competitive. Instead they were supportive of each other, never arguing about who was better.
“We want to help each other rather than beat each other,” Bartlett said.
That same empathy doesn’t always apply to academic competition.
“My siblings and I mostly fight about who had the highest GPA rather than fighting about winning in sports,” sophomore Andrea Silveira said.
Silveira and her older sister are dedicated dancers, but are also involved in school activities. Even though they share a common hobby, they only feel pressure to do better than each other academically, not while dancing.
Siblings don’t necessarily feel the need to challenge each other for their parents’ attention, like many people think they do. They don’t always want to battle for the spotlight and sometimes seeing their sibling do well makes them proud.
Just like Serena and Venus Williams did after their first match against each other, siblings can still hug after a competition. Like Venus, many siblings only want success for their sibling—even if she’s a rival player.