Venus Williams, of the United States, returns a shot to Elina Svitolina, of Ukraine, during the second round of the US Open tennis championships Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, in New York. Credit: Michael Owens | AP

Sports stars are just like you and me. At least when it comes to the need for coffee.

Both Venus Williams and her sister, Serena, have been known to be jonesing big-time for java during matches, even in sweltering heat. So it was not surprising that Venus made the request during her second round U.S. Open match Wednesday, but this time a funny moment with a flummoxed ballboy followed.

Williams’ coach handed the beverage down from the stands to the ballboy, who, like all diligent ballboys and girls, sped off to Williams’ side. Only she wasn’t there, having departed moments earlier for a bathroom break. He pursued her for a step or two, changed his mind and then wandered around the court a bit before being told to just place it beside her chair.

Well done, young man. The coffee didn’t help Williams, though. Elina Svitolina beat Williams, 6-4, 6-4.

This isn’t the first time that Williams has needed a jolt of java during a match. It was the first thing she requested from her coach during a changeover during her Aug. 15 match against Donna Vekic at the Cincinnati Master. “Coffee?” she inquired and, after a discussion of strategy, she added, “Can I get it like ASAP?”

She rallied from a first-set loss to win, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, that day, with the coffee clearly helping.

Her sister has turned to coffee at critical, comical moments. In 2015, Serena Williams asked for an espresso after dropping the first set 6-0 during Hopman Cup play in Australia. She went on to win the next two sets, 6-3, 6-0, from Flavia Pennetta and joked that she had drunk “miracle coffee” even though it was a hot, humid day in Perth.

“Is it illegal to order an espresso?” she asked the chair umpire during a changeover, laughing as she made her request. “I don’t know if it’s allowed. Is it allowed? I’m tired. I’m dead. Can I get a shot of coffee?”

Sure enough, someone arrived with the espresso – and little cups of cream – since caffeine is not on the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency.