As the Williams sisters stroll towards a second consecutive Wimbledon final – and fourth in all at this most valued of championships – the perception that the rest of the women’s game has a soft under-belly continues to grow unabated.
Nowhere is that truer than at this event where the best of the rest are but cannon fodder for a single family, raised in difficult circumstances in California and elevated, through their own brilliance, to super-stardom and the pick of the sport’s celebrated titles.
Rather incongruously, the one on offer at that bastion of tradition, the All England Club, is their favourite. Venus is on the brink of her sixth crown while Serena is eying her third.
Seven times in the past nine years they have taken the silverware back to the family home in Palm Beach, Florida.
For more than a decade they have passed the Venus Rosewater Dish between them, not as the biggest prize of all, but as sisters share belts or blouses, and the rest of the WTA Tour has been virtually powerless to do anything to stop them.
That is not to say there have not been interruptions.
Maria Sharapova out-willed the younger sibling in 2004 and Amelie Mauresmo enjoyed the summer of her career two years later but broadly speaking it has been The Williams Show.
And another series in being recorded this year. Yesterday Agnieszka Radwanska was pummelled by Venus in her quarter-final, while Serena gobbled up Victoria Azarenka to book her semi-final spot.
Now only Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva, players with a combined Grand Slam finals record of played five won none, stand between father Richard and another uneasy finals morning breakfast. Soft under-belly indeed.
And the softest of those bellies belongs to Safina, nominally world No 1 despite never having won a Major.
Three of those last hurdle trips belong to the Russian, two this year and one last, and the prospect of her beating Venus tomorrow is considerably slimmer than anything else about the 23-year-old.
Indeed Safina’s elevation to the top of the rankings, in April this year, suggests there is something wrong in the points system that rewards industry above glory.
Safina has indeed won more matches on the circuit this year than anyone else, but she has not won them when they mattered most.
Serena beat her to the Australian Open title in January and Svetlana Kuznetsova, Miss Nervous Nelly herself, prevailed at Roland Garros.
In short Marat’s sister is tennis’s leading light despite having too little to glow, or indeed crow, about.
Her performance against Sabine Lisicki, in which she was a set down and wobbling in the second and third, only underlined the difference between a player who had never made it to the second week of Wimbledon before this year and two others for whom taking the title is routine.
Where Venus swoops around the court with a wing-span of which an albatross would be envious, Safina chugs.
Where Serena reacts to big points with an increase in intensity and a steely calm, Safina tightens and goes glassy-eyed.
Watching the Muscovite chase down Lisicki’s drop shots was a slightly uncomfortable experience and seeing her respond to Mauresmo’s savvy on Monday said more about the depth of the women’s game than it did about her court management.
Venus is respectful about her challengers but knows that whatever the rankings say, ten years since she won her first Slam, they remain in the rear-view mirror, particularly when the destination is Wimbledon.
“I just think that the style of game that Serena and I play, we play better than the other women,” Williams said.
“Maybe the opponent I played today, I probably don’t know how to play that way but the style of game we play is the most effective. I think that shows in results.”
Indeed it does. Especially when you consider the fact that the older sister is gliding towards her place in history – another title would draw her level with Suzanne Lenglen and Billie-Jean King – on just one knee.
Former No 1 Ana Ivanovic couldn’t expose those problems in the fourth round and Radwanska didn’t even get close.
That is primarily because they are not only facing a wonderful athlete and a decent doubles player but the know-how gained en route to five championships.
“There’s more room for error maybe than before but my style is very aggressive,” Venus explained.
“I do have strategy, maybe it doesn’t look like it but I do. I think that’s my secret weapon, that it doesn’t look like I’m thinking.”
Which doesn’t really leave anywhere for Safina and the chasing pack to go.
No one would accuse Safina of being a great athlete, nor of having anything other than the traditional Safin family fortitude.
Which leaves us back where we started. “I would love it to be a Williams final and so would she. That would be great,” Venus said. It’s not as if the others can do anything about it, is it?