What a joy it has been for the sports industry to bear witness to the illustrious careers of Venus and Serena Williams. Outside of the championships and grand slams that these ladies have won, it has been delightful to see their kinship both on and off the tennis court. When they oppose one another, they are in the throes of competition, fighting with every ouch of their beings to emerge victorious. But when one of them is facing another opponent, her sister sits in the stands as a friend and cheerleader. Venus and Serena exemplify the beauty that lies within siblings in sport.
The same can be said about two basketball sisters from Male High School. Big sister Iliyah Green is older than her little sister India Green by two years. Growing up playing the game, Iliyah would always let India know that she is the big sister and that she canâ€™t be beat. But as they have gotten older, they have learned to work together for one common goal: to be an effectiveÂ and exemplary duo on the basketball court.
â€œIt is very fun playing with her,â€ says Iliyah. â€œWhenever we play against each other, I try my best, and I make sure she does not beat me. But playing with her on the court, she is very exciting when it comes to basketball. She always claims she is my number one fan no matter what. She is always supporting me, cheering me on and being my coach even though I am the oldest one. So it is very fun playing with her.â€
Iliyah helped lead Male to a historic run this past season in girls hoops. Male had a 26-5 record and was one win away from competing for a state championship. The Green sisters combined for 65 total points in the KHSAA Girls Sweet 16 Basketball Tournament.
Iliyah, who will be going into her senior year, and India, her sophomore year, have put in a major effort this summer to become a more dynamic duo by playing AAU ball together for Kentucky Premier.
India says the experience she has gotten from playing with Kentucky Premier in her first year has built her confidence and expanded her game.
â€œI am playing against players that are as good as me and playing against bigger players. There are college coaches watching me, so in my mind, I am saying that I have to play good.â€
India also has her big sister who she is able to look up to both at Male and in AAU competition.
â€œI try to be her all the time, and it is fun playing with her. When we do something good, we get hyped. So people are looking up to us. I look up to her, and people always compare me to her.â€
Siblings have an innate biological connection. For India, she is uplifted when she catches a glimpse of her sister on the same court.
â€œWe cheerleaded in our childhood, so we just cheer each other on now. If I score, she pats me on the butt, and we pump each other up on the court and in practice. We push each other to do better.â€
Iliyah will be going into her senior year as the number two ranked player in the state. She understands that her leadership speaks volumes to her other teammates at Male and also to her little sister.
With her younger sister showing so much talent and potential, Iliyah strives to exemplify now what true leadership is about so that when India gets to her senior year, she can assume the same kind of leadership role.
â€œBeing a leader is very tough. You canâ€™t lead someone and tell them to do this; you also have to do it yourself. You have to watch what you do because everyone else is looking up to you.â€
When Iliyah was asked her thoughts on Indiaâ€™s 2017 senior season, she said, â€œShe has to be the leader because people are going to look up to her â€“ not because she is the best player on the team but because as a senior they will look up to her. She has to lead by example and not just by words.â€
The one-two punch of the Green sisters will surely look to knock out the competition next season as they continue to serve as Louisvilleâ€™s own Venus and Serena.