The phenomenal Serena Williams is not only the greatest and most accomplished female tennis player of her generation but is now only a mere four grand slam titles away from being officially crowned the greatest player in female tennis history. The astonishing facts speak loudly for themselves. Not only has Serena now won more major titles in her sport than either Roger Federer or Tiger Woods--both direct generational contemporaries of Serena who are widely considered the most iconic individual figures in their respective sports of tennis and golf--but she in my opinion must now be considered the greatest individual athlete of the 21st century as a result. Certainly her monumental achievements have been and continue to be just as impressive or frankly more so than theirs. For example just consider what Serena has accomplished since January 2012 alone. In the past 32 months she has won a jawdropping 93% of ALL the tennis matches she has played (he overall record is an incredible 181-14 in this span--a period in which she has also managed to win five grand slam tournaments as well a whopping 20 other tournaments in all. In addition her amazing lifetime career record against the top ten major female players following her in the rankings is a combined 95-8 or .922. With absolutely dominant and otherworldly statistics like these one can only surmise just how far Serena will continue to go in the future, despite the fact that at the age of 32 (she will be 33 on September 26) she is already the highest ranked player --for the last three years she has of course been ranked number one--of any player over the age of 30 in tennis history. So fierce congratulations and many kudos to the beautiful warrior athlete I personally like to affectionately refer to as 'Da Gunslinger' Ms. Serena Williams and may her future be as luminous and inspiring as her past...
Williams, Queen of Queens, Embraces Elusive Milestone
U.S. Open 2014: Serena Williams Beats Caroline Wozniacki for 18th Major Title
By NAILA-JEAN MEYERS
SEPT. 7, 2014
New York Times
Serena Williams was asked last week what the number 18 meant to her.
“It means legal to do some things,” she said, laughing.
But she knew what the reporter was getting at.
“It also means legendary,” she added more seriously.
She would not go so far as to call herself legendary — “I’m just Serena,” she said — but she joined some elite company Sunday, when she tied Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with her 18th Grand Slam singles title.
The top-ranked Williams defeated Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3, 6-3, to capture her third United States Open final in a row and sixth over all.
Williams had not advanced past the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament this year, and over the last two weeks she had expressed relief and excitement at her success at the U.S. Open. When Wozniacki’s final stroke went long Sunday, Williams collapsed on her back and started to cry. In a postmatch interview, she choked up saying the word 18.
“I have been trying to reach it for so long, since last year, well, since the beginning of the year,” said Williams, who received an 18-karat gold bracelet from Evert and Navratilova after the match. “I didn’t really think I would get there. I just felt so good.”
Williams survived a women’s draw decimated by upsets, the only player among the top nine seeds to reach the quarterfinals. Wozniacki, the No. 10 seed, was the highest-seeded player Williams faced, and even though she never lost more than three games in a set during the tournament, “it definitely wasn’t anything that was easy,” Williams said.
“It was a little bit more pressure on this Slam than the other ones because she hadn’t done well in the ones before,” said Sascha Bajin, Williams’s practice partner. “Especially the seeds going out early in the draw. The pressure just kept on rising. Everybody was expecting Serena to win.”
No one applies more pressure on Williams than Williams herself. But after a third-round loss at Wimbledon, Williams took a vacation with Bajin in his native Croatia, realizing, she said, “I just needed to relax a little more.”
When she returned to the tour, she won the tournament in Stanford, Calif., which helped her regain her confidence, Bajin said. She reached the semifinals in Montreal, then won again in Cincinnati.
By the time Williams arrived in Flushing Meadows, where she first won the U.S. Open in 1999 at age 17, she was back in the form that makes it “not fun to play her,” Wozniacki said.
Considering that, Williams seemed to be almost comically modest when she said before the match that she would “try to hang in there” against Wozniacki, whom she had beaten in eight of their previous nine meetings.
But that was what was required as both players made a mess of the first set. There were five service breaks in a row, with Wozniacki holding serve for the first time in the match in the eighth game, trailing by 5-2.
When Williams served for the set at 5-3, a fan in the upper deck felt the need to shout, “Settle down, Serena!”
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Williams closed out the set, but it was not one either player will want to save for posterity.
Williams had 28 errors, Wozniacki 21. Williams got only 41 percent of her first serves in and won only 41 percent of her second-serve points. Wozniacki got only 58 percent of her first serves in and won only 27 percent of her second-serve points. Wozniacki had three doubles faults, Williams two. At least Williams had 15 winners; Wozniacki had one, an ace.
Williams settled down in the second set. In the first game, she won a 20-shot rally when a backhand clipped the net cord and dropped over to get two break points. She broke Wozniacki on the next point, and then started dominating service games. Williams lost only four points on her serve, one on a double fault, for the rest of the match.
Wozniacki was serving better, too, and relentlessly chasing down ground strokes.
“I think we both raised our level in the second set, and it was just a little too late for me,” Wozniacki said.
Williams broke Wozniacki one more time to end the match, winning a 26-shot rally to go ahead in the game, 15-30, and finishing it with a pair of forehands that Wozniacki could not handle.
Wozniacki, a 24-year-old Dane who held the No. 1 ranking for 67 weeks in 2010 and 2011, was in only her second Grand Slam final, having reached the U.S. Open final in 2009. She acknowledged being nervous and overwhelmed by the atmosphere at the start.
But Wozniacki’s appearance in the final capped a resurgent summer. Since losing in the first round of the French Open, her first tournament after the golfer Rory McIlroy broke off their engagement in May, Wozniacki is 25-6, three of the losses against Williams.
“I think I have definitely played better tennis these weeks than I have in the past,” said Wozniacki, who plans to run the New York City Marathon in November. “So it’s definitely a positive sign and a good sign for the future.”
Despite the on-court results against Williams, Wozniacki considers Williams one of her closest friends and has said she was a vital source of support during a difficult period in her life.
“You’re an unbelievable champion and an inspiration to me on and off the court,” Wozniacki said to Williams after the match, adding, “You definitely owe drinks later.”
Williams said she and Wozniacki would, in fact, be celebrating together Sunday night. But she did not allow herself to savor the moment too long, motivated as ever to move forward.
Williams, who turns 33 this month, is four major championships behind Steffi Graf for the Open-era record, and she was asked if she was thinking about 22.
“Hasn’t even been three hours, and I have already mentioned 19,” Williams said. “Oh, gosh. So, yeah, but not 22. I’m taking it one at a time.”
Ben Rothenberg contributed reporting.
A version of this article appears in print on September 8, 2014, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Queen of Queens.
Why Serena Williams Is Now The Greatest American Tennis Player Ever
by Allen St. John
Why? Because with that win, Serena Williams became simply the greatest American tennis player ever. Male or female. No asterisks.
“I never dreamed that I could be compared to Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova,” Williams said in her post-match press conference. “I was just a kid with a dream and a racket living in Compton.”
Here’s how the numbers lay out. With her 18th major, Serena tied Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Evert, for all of her greatness and influence, isn’t quite a match for Serena. She did win her 18 majors in 56 majors for a .321 slam average, one fewer than Serena, whose Slam Average stands at .315. (Slam average can be computed by taking a player’s slam wins and dividing them by the total number of majors in which she competed)
But Serena has two important edges—Serena won 13 majors in doubles, compared to only three for Evert. Even more importantly, Evert has been on the short end of a key rivalry. Williams has been the best player in the world for most of the past decade and a half. Her closest rival is either Justine Henin or her sister Venus, each of whom have 11 fewer slams. Evert, for her part, took a back seat to Navratilova, who held an 43-37 edge including a 10-4 in Grand Slam finals.
Speaking of Navratilova, she had even more doubles success than Williams, winning 31 titles. But she also took more time to win her 18 singles slams, playing 67 majors in singles for a slam percentage of .268 compared to Serena’s .315.
At this moment, Serena’s edge over these other two legends is real, but narrow. If she can continue to play at this level, she’ll widen the gap. Or if her game falls off suddenly, her case for supremacy weakens.
As for the Serena vs. the American guys, it’s really no contest. Pete Sampras was great. He won 14 slams in 52 tries for a .269 Slam Average. But Serena’s better. She won a career grand slam, including two French Opens. She’s held all four majors at once for a so-called “Serena Slam.” She won those aforementioned doubles titles.
To put this in some perspective, she’s got more singles wins than Jimmy Connors (8) and John McEnroe (7) combined.
What makes this exciting is Serena’s uncertain future. Serena’ is approaching 33, and Roger Federer (like Serena herself) has shown just how hard it is to play consistent tennis in the slams after age 30. But her win over Wozniacki proved that she’s the game’s best player, so it would be a surprise (although not a shock) if she didn’t win another slam or two by next year’s U.S. Open.
If Serena can do that, we can shift our attention from her match-up with Evert and Navratilova, to her pursuit of the two (non-American) modern-era players in front of her.
(American Helen Wills Moody won 19 slams in the 1920s and 1930s, and Serena’s next victory will put these accomplishments in the spotlight for a moment. But tennis was different enough in the 1920s and 1930s that it seems unfair to both players to compare Williams with the great HWM.)
Steffi Graf won 22 slams, but her remarkable resume should carry an informal asterisk. Between 1990 and 1993, Graf’s main rival, Monica Seles won eight of the 11 grand slams in which she played. Then she was stabbed on court by a deluded Graf fan at a small event in Germany. Seles missed two years, and was never really the same again, winning only one major the rest of her career.
Ironically, this horrible deed did exactly what its perpetrator set out to accomplish. At the time of Seles’s stabbing, Graf had won 11 career slams. After Seles’s career was derailed by the attack, Graf would go on to win 11 more. It’s only reasonable to speculate that if Seles hadn’t been attacked, she would have won many, if not, most of those 11 titles, and both Seles and Graf would have ended up somewhere in teens in total titles.
Margaret Court, of Australia, holds the all-time record, with 24 slams spanning the Open and pre-Open eras. But seven of those majors were won at the Australian championships during the 1960s. While Court’s streak is impressive, the tournament’s field was considerably weaker than in the other slams, with many top players choosing not to make the long journey to Australia in the days before Open tennis. But that’s a discussion for another day.
“I don’t think about it so much because I’m still playing,” says Serena.
Every year during the U.S. Open there’s a lot of talk about the future of American tennis. But the talking heads often miss greatness sitting right in front of them. On Sunday, Serena Jameka Williams made two things abundantly clear. That she’s the best American tennis player ever. And that she’s not done yet.
For the best-curated news about sports and entertainment, follow me on Twitter (@allenstjohn).
Allen St. John is the author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game
Incredible stat via @StatsWTA: Since her glorious return and tennis comeback began in June, 2011 following a year of health problems, Serena Williams has more titles (26) than losses (17)!
Including five Grand Slam titles and Olympic Gold in both singles and doubles
She is also an incredible 181-14 since January 2012 which means she has won 93% of all her matches over the past 32 months
SERENA THE GREAT
With her 6-3, 6-3 victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the US Open women’s final on Sunday, Serena Williams accomplished the following:
She won her sixth US Open women’s singles title, which ties Chris Evert for the most in the Open era. The all-time record is eight, held by Molla Bjurstedt Mallory (1915-1926).
She won her 18th Grand Slam singles title, which ties Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth-most in tennis history (behind Margaret Court’s 24, Steffi Graf’s 22 and Helen Wills Moody’s 19) and is second in the Open era (behind only Graf).
She won the US Open without losing a set for the third time in her career (2002, 2008, 2014). That ties the Open era record held by Evert, who accomplished the feat in 1976, 1977 and 1978, though Evert played only six matches – not seven – in 1976 and 1978.
She won the US Open for a third consecutive year. The only other woman to accomplish that in the Open era was Evert, who won four titles in a row from 1975 to 1978.
With her victory on Sunday, she improved to 79-9 at the US Open, an .898 winning percentage that is the best in tournament history for a woman. (Bill Tilden holds the men’s mark at .910.)
She has now won her first and last women’s singles titles 15 years apart. That breaks a tie with Ken Rosewall for the greatest length of time between wins in tournament history. In the Open era, the second-longest time span between wins for a woman’s champion is eight years (Steffi Graf, 1988, 1996).
She matches Billie Jean King for third place in most overall US Open titles in the Open era, with nine. (Serena also won the women’s doubles in 1999 and 2009 and the mixed doubles in 1998). They trail only Martina Navratilova (16) and Margaret Court (10).
This a great and very insightful article that also happens to be 100% TRUE. It also echoes what I've been saying outloud to many people across the country for the past decade now. It's good to know that these truths about both Serena and Venus and their profound contributions are finally beginning to circulate much more broadly in the general culture in spite of an all too often racist, sexist, and indifferent media...Long Live the Williams sisters and a deeply heartfelt congratulations to Serena for continuing to make history in such an inspiring and typically dynamic manner...
BY IAN CROUCH
SEPTEMBER 9, 2014
The New Yorker
This week, as the sports world repays our slavish attention with more lousy, grotesque news, it’s worth noting that, on Sunday, the greatest American athlete in a generation won the U.S. Open, again, for the sixth time and the third year in a row.
Serena Williams’s victory over Caroline Wozniacki puts her in rarefied company in the history of women’s tennis. It was her eighteenth Grand Slam singles title, tying her with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. (The pair welcomed her to the club by giving her an eighteen-karat gold Tiffany bracelet.) Even before Sunday, Evert had said several times that Williams is the best woman ever to play, despite the fact that she remains four major titles behind Steffi Graf (who, the argument goes, faced lesser opponents), and six behind the all-time record holder, Margaret Court (who played before the modern open era). Williams has been to twenty-two Slam finals and has lost only four times. At thirty-two, she is less than two months younger than Roger Federer, who is considered to be playing in the near-twilight of his career, and the oldest player to hold the women’s world No. 1 ranking. After the match, Evert said, “People kept asking Serena the last year, ‘How’s it going to feel to be in the same company with Martina and Chrissie?’ and I’m thinking to myself, Well, I’m the one who’s honored to have Serena in the same sentence.”
Forget tennis for a moment, though: when I say the greatest athlete in a generation, I mean the greatest in any sport. Sorry, LeBron. Sorry, Tiger. Sorry, Derek. For fifteen years, over two generations of tennis, Williams has been a spectacular and constant yet oddly uncherished national treasure. She is wealthy and famous, but it seems that she should be more famous, the most famous. Anyone who likes sports should love Williams’s dazzling combination of talent, persistence, style, unpredictability, poise, and outsized, heart-on-her-sleeve flaws.
But not everyone loves her. Part of this is owing to the duelling -isms of American prejudice, sexism, and racism, which manifest every time viewers, mostly men, are moved to remark on Williams’s body in a way that reveals what might most charitably be called discomfort. What are they afraid of? The bodies of athletes, both male and female, are habitually on display, yet there has been something especially contentious and fraught about the ways in which Williams’s singular appearance—musculature both imposing and graceful—has been discussed. On Twitter, during the final, some people wrote admiringly about her obvious strength and fitness, but there were also observations about the size of her butt, her thighs, and suggestions that her toned arms made her look more like a male boxer or linebacker than like a women’s tennis player. Yet, while some fixate on what they see as Williams’s masculine traits, others seem to find fault in the parts of her that might be considered more feminine: her striking on-court outfits (and off-court interest in fashion) are criticized as flashy, unserious, and self-absorbed. No one, meanwhile, seems too upset by the beautiful mini-dresses worn by the likes of Maria Sharapova, and Federer’s Wimbledon cream-blazer frippery is admired as debonair.
When the culture at large grants athletic adoration to women, it is often of a temporary, fleeting kind directed toward teen-age American sweethearts at the Olympics. Williams has never been America’s sweetheart. She wasn’t when she won her first U.S. Open, at seventeen, in 1999, and she isn’t now, as she plays on into her thirties. There is concern on both the men’s and women’s sides of tennis about where the next generation of great players is: no one under twenty-five on either tour has become a proven winner, in a game once known for prodigies. (This year’s men’s final, won by Marin Čilić in straight, uneventful sets over Kei Nishikori, gave tennis fans a glimpse at what a landscape without Federer and Nadal might look like.) Yet there has, for years now, been a special eagerness to find the next young-woman breakout star, as if there were some dissatisfaction with Williams as the game’s untouchable queen. For a while, it was Wozniacki, and then it was the American Melanie Oudin. These days, hope has turned to the Canadian Eugenie Bouchard. This year at the Open, eyes lit up as the fifteen-year-old American CiCi Bellis won her first-round match. Yet, through it all, Williams has shown that those pining for her replacement may be left waiting for a while still.
But it’s not enough to say that Williams would be more uniformly adored if she were a white woman, or a man. Instead, the failure to fully appreciate her importance is perhaps evidence of our inability to appreciate the stubbornly unfamiliar narrative arc of her career. Williams is underloved because, at times, she has been unlovable and, in the end, mostly unrepentant about it—something that might be admired as iconoclastic in a male athlete, but rarely endears women to a wide audience. As a younger player, she was criticized for being ungenerous to her opponents in interviews; despite all the evidence of her superiority, she was expected to be humble. But the great crisis in her public persona came later, in 2009, when she was penalized the final point in her U.S. Open semifinal against Kim Clijsters after berating a line judge over a foot-fault call on the previous serve. Williams is indeed singular: she is likely the only person ever to utter on a professional tennis court, “I swear to God, I’m fucking going to take this fucking ball and shove it down your fucking throat, you hear that? I swear to God.” (Of course, John McEnroe said things that weren’t so different, and he is beloved for it.) She eventually offered a full statement of apology, and her contrition seemed sincere. But, for such misbehavior, sports fans, the old-fashioned moralists that we are, might have expected Williams to apologize for the rest of her career (and, in so doing, to give us the pleasure of forgiving her).
Yet the past five years have not left Williams abject or cowed, or much more interested in mass approval. Her career story isn’t a straight line from brash youthfulness to somber and admirable maturity. When she won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, she danced exuberantly on the court, offending some stuffy folks who claimed that she was doing a gang dance. She has sniped at her competitors in the press. She stills puts in occasionally odd and maddening performances; her attention to tennis sometimes seems to wane.
This summer, after a disappointing showing in the three previous Grand Slam tournaments, Williams said that she adopted a new way of thinking about the game, to put less pressure on herself by appreciating what she had already accomplished. “That’s the beauty of my career,” she said before the Open. “I don’t need to do anything at all. Everything I do from this day forward is a bonus. Actually, from yesterday. It doesn’t matter. Everything for me is just extra.” This is surely wisdom, but it is also a form of sports sacrilege. I don’t have anything to prove; I have been great—so great, in fact, that at this point winning doesn’t even matter.
But Serena did win, and in dominating fashion (without dropping a set during the entire tournament), prompting Evert and others to note that Graf’s total number of Grand Slam titles could be within Williams’s reach. She remains the future of women’s tennis, at least the immediate one. After the final point on Sunday, she collapsed on her back in joy. Later, at center court, holding the trophy and wearing a ridiculous and fabulous black blazer, she jumped into the air, bending her legs underneath her, and smiled the same bright smile that she’s been giving us for fifteen years.
ON SERENA WILLIAMS AND THE RACISM EXPERIENCED BY BLACK WOMEN ATHLETES
by Tiffanie Drayton
However, a stark reality exists that Black people in this country are far too well-aware of. One where all Black accomplishment is met with condemnation and ugly racist remarks.
Buried within the comments section of such stories of American victory, tells the reality that a Black woman does not represent America to White Americans. Nor is she worthy of support or even much deserved congratulations. The general consensus by such White people? Serena Williams, like President Obama, should be dehumanized and ridiculed merely because of her skin color.
To Serena Williams and her family, this racism would come as no surprise. Reports during the 2001 Tennis Masters Series tournament in Indian Wells, California, detailed the racial controversy that erupted after Venus Williams pulled out of a match against her sister only four minutes before it was set to start. The following day, the crowd booed the Williams family incessantly, and according to Richard Williams– the sisters’ manager and father– screamed racial epithets and slurs at them. In an excerpt from Serena William’s 2009 autobiography, On the Line, she recounts this experience:
“What got me most of all was that it wasn’t just a scattered bunch of boos. It wasn’t coming from just one section. It was like the whole crowd got together and decided to boo all at once. The ugliness was just raining down on me, hard. I didn’t know what to do. Nothing like this had ever happened to me. What was most surprising about this uproar was the fact that tennis fans are typically a well-mannered bunch. They’re respectful. They sit still. And in Palm Springs, especially, they tended to be pretty well-heeled, too. But I looked up and all I could see was a sea of rich people—mostly older, mostly white—standing and booing lustily, like some kind of genteel lynch mob. I don’t mean to use such inflammatory language to describe the scene, but that’s really how it seemed from where I was down on the court. Like these people were gonna come looking for me after the match. … There was no mistaking that all of this was meant for me. I heard the word !#+$+% a couple times, and I knew. I couldn’t believe it. That’s just not something you hear in polite society on that stadium court. … Just before the start of play, my dad and Venus started walking down the aisle to the players’ box by the side of the court, and everybody turned and started to point and boo at them. … It was mostly just a chorus of boos, but I could still hear shouts of ‘!#+$+%!’ here and there. I even heard one angry voice telling us to go back to Compton. It was unbelievable. … We refused to return to Indian Wells. Even now, all these years later, we continue to boycott the event. It’s become a mandatory tournament on the tour, meaning that the WTA can fine a player if she doesn’t attend. But I don’t care if they fine me a million dollars, I will not play there again.”
Racism towards Williams is displayed both overtly and covertly in the media and during the game. A 2009 story published by ESPN detailed a match between Serena and Kim Clijsters, where a lines woman called Williams for a foot fault on her second game, even though replays did not conclusively support the call — costing her the match point. Serena marched over to the lines judge and allegedly angrily confronted her screaming expletives. When told by reporters that the lines woman complained that she felt threatened to the chair umpire, Williams responded, “She says she felt threatened? She said this to you? I’ve never been in a fight my whole life, so I don’t know why she should have felt threatened.” Ultimately, Serena lost that game because she lost her temper. In the ESPN piece, the author claimed that Clijsters “seemed destined to win the match anyways,” saying that the player powerfully returned “Serena’s savage strokes.”
This image of the angry, Black fierce Serena with “savage” strokes is widely popular, despite the fact that her outbursts are usually in response to poor line judging and bad calls. In the 2011 US Open, chair umpire Eva Asderaki penalized Williams with a point for violating the hindrance rule — a rule that is seldom enforced — for shouting “Come on!” before her challenger, Samantha Stosur, had a chance to return the shot, regardless of the fact that Stosur’s racket barely touched the ball when she attempted the return. Most tennis players yell, grunt or scream on every shot, so such rules are often neglected. In this instance, the penalty cost Serena the match point, prompting the athlete to express hostility towards the umpire. She was fined $2000.
Such are the realities of being Black in White America, especially while participating in spaces that had long been off limits to people of color. Constant battles with stereotypes and racism are a norm. The picture of Serena Williams, courageously displaying her trophy while Black, strong and woman is a symbol of how far African-Americans are willing to go to reclaim their humanity and dignity: To achieve and be successful against all odds. In spite of every racist jeer, taunt, or attempt at unfairness, Black success persists. However, that success should never be confused with equality and fairness for all. America is still struggling down that path