Since turning pro in 1995, Serena Williams has a jaw-dropping career total 19 Grand Slam titles, in the Open Era, second only to Steffi Graf (22). How did she get here…
For beginners, ‘stunned’ best describes the white establishment’s quintessential country-club sport when the Williams sisters first exploded on the tennis scene as young teens. When they were even younger someone commented to their father, Richard Williams, that he had the next Michael Jordan on his hands; Richard, who self-taught himself the fundamentals of tennis, famously commented:
The tennis world marveled when on February 25, 2002 Venus became the first African American to become
World Number One.
About this historical achievement, Dad is on record saying words to this effect – while Venus is very good, her little sister is greatness personified.
The sisters really were dismissed and denigrated by many in the all-white tennis establishment, and when he forecast that Venus and Serena would become the top two players in the game, so was their father.
Yet to be acknowledged for his genius as a coach, Richard Williams was scoffed and laughed at, but as the famous quote goes:
“He who laughs last, laughs longest.”
SERENA…IN THE BEGINNING
Serena Williams was only 4 years old when she and sister, Venus, started hitting tennis balls. And at age 10 her record was 46-3 on the Junior USA Tour and her ranking – Number One – in her age division.
Turning pro in 1995 her determination was on full display as her ranking soared from number 304 to number 99.
Remember what transpired on that ranking climb, Serena defeated two top ten players on the way up, Monica Seles and Mary Pierce.
Amazingly only four years later, Serena followed up Althea Gibson’s feat of 1956, by becoming only the second African American to secure a grand slam women’s singles title. Winning at Flushing Meadows in 1999, the US Open – defeating Switzerland’s Martina Hingis in the women’s finals 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).
Backdrop to the story…as to why Serena winning her first grand slam title ‘here’ was so astounding to the lily-white tennis world: in 1997 her elder sister Venus at age 17 became the US Open’s first ‘unseeded’ women’s finalist in the Open Era. Well documented is the ‘open resentment’ Venus encountered during that tournament. (Check the cover of Sports Illustrated below) Venus was asked if she was tennis’ next Tiger Woods, her response is bold and true to factual reality:
“I would hope so,” Venus said. “He’s different from the mainstream, and in tennis I also am. I’m tall. I’m black. Everything’s different about me. Just face the facts.”
And the tennis world, if overwhelmed then, was much like the chorus of that song “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”…when in 2002 Serena Jamika Williams followed up her Sister’s Act –
A magazine cover I favor very much features the most celebrated siblings ever in tennis history on its cover and reads: “Venus and Serena Serving From the Hip.” The story has since grown much deeper than that when it comes to closer inspection of the individual dispositions of these two
Being the baby sister myself, I appreciate and admire much Venus’s generosity of spirit, support and protectiveness of her younger sister. But these characteristics have been enormous factors in their face-offs on court, particularly early in their careers.
The primary distinction is that while younger sister has vocalized a preference for not having to face Venus, Serena has never seemed as conflicted about beating Venus – as Venus has demonstrated for her baby sister.
Remember the first Prime-Time Televised women’s final in US Open history, when she beat Serena, Venus slung her arms around her kid sister’s shoulders when it was over and whispered in her ear, “Let’s get out of here.”
Serena and Destiny
Also admirable is that without hesitation, and from the beginning, Serena embraced her own individual destiny. And for the record, Champion Serena Williams has shared openly that, regardless of the opponent she hates losing more than she loves winning.
And true to her father Richard William’s proclamation; Serena has become the greatest women’s champion the world has ever been fortunate enough to witness.
Further testimony to her greatness, the World Number One is not satisfied with her record 19 Grand Slam Titles, so stay tuned folks for the greatest match of competition ever is underway…Serena against Tennis World History!
WHY I ADORE SERENA WILLIAMS
I adore Serena for many reasons: that she is a woman of Faith; how she openly shares her journey to embracing and loving herself completely; the love she has for her family and genuine care for others; her dedication to her sport; and, her determination to live a full life outside of tennis; however my special admiration is reserved for Serena’s “Purity of Purpose”!
And I love music too and, its correlation to current affairs in life today; thus the song for the autobiographical movie about the undisputed “GREATEST” Muhammad Ali is deservedly a song the dominant and ‘GREAT’ Serena Williams, a woman of purpose, has earned in her sport such a tribute as well.
Ladies and gentlemen I present one of the greatest singers Whitney Houston [RIP] in Music Video performing “The Greatest Love Of All.”
submitted by a devoted fan of the William Sisters…@BlackPearlMoi (twitter account)
Seems destiny made a date with Serena Williams, the greatest player of this era, who with a win in this year’s 2015 Australian Open will surpass Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with a 19th grand slam. It marks the 6th time Serena will appear in a final here.
Serena was her dominant self in the second set of the semifinal; defeating Madison Keys 6-2; after a competitive first set that ended in a tiebreaker which the World #1 took 7-6 (7-5). Some say Serena hasn’t looked relaxed in Melbourne, but make no mistake – she’s fit, focused and ‘winning’; doing so despite being a bit under the weather!]
For the 16th time she will play Maria Sharapova in the final. In the run-up to the Australian Open, the media was obsessing over the fact that Sharapova had crept to within 681 points of Williams. Serena’s semifinal win however, secured her reign as number one. [100+ weeks]
But the story then and now is how Serena at thirty-something still maintains her status as the most dominant player in the history of tennis. And Serena, who along with sister Venus are architects of the power game, amazingly manages to keep evolving her superb all round game.
Can the same be said of her Aussie Open final opponent? Sharapova has lost 15 consecutive times to Serena and in their past 11 matches, Serena has dropped one only set.
I respect Sharapova’s confident “it ain’t over till it’s over” ferocious attitude that she brings to every match. Still memory is a *bish* and just as Serena Williams has not forgotten Wimbledon 2004 – avenging that loss for the past decade and some years – neither is Maria Sharapova able to dismiss the reality of their head-to-head record since that Wimbeldon! [Hashtag Non-Rivalry]
guest Blogger @BlackPearlMoi
Watching ESPN just now, coverage of the Australian Open, and the verbiage is all about age – “Serena is the oldest player to reach an Aussie final.” Falderal! Serena Williams is on a history-making journey to surpass her compatriots, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova , in the elite 18 Grand Slam club. And she is only one win away from doing just that.
Why then has this part of her competing in the 2015 grand slam down under been on mute? Simply unbelievable to me. Seems the greater Serena’s achievements the harder the media, specifically the US tennis media, attempts to devalue her greatness. They remain stuck on the power narrative when it comes to her. Will they ever acknowledge what they see when watching Serena play? She is a most intelligent player, which enables her to strategize and win? Overlooking Serena’s continuing dominance in her sport is plain out perplexing.
While in America the chat is all about “the changing of the guard”. It only took the World #1 two straight sets[7-6 (5), 6-2] in her match against fellow American Madison Keys to restore order and shut down that talking point.(Avenging her sister’s loss to Keys at the same time!) ShoutOut to Serena for her encouraging words to Madison after the match. [WATCH VIDEO]
Now I am thrilled for the rising young and obviously talented Keys who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal. That she is projected to make her top 20 debut is fantastic. Under new coach Lindsay Davenport I only expect continuing progress in her development.
Here me well now, I don’t begrudge her media attention, but it should not overshadow what winning this final means for Serena and history! And at same time it should not make Serena’s elder sister Venus an after thought as she will move up the rankings after this Grand Slam to maybe as high as top 10.
Truth is the Williams sisters, top two American women in the game, are not products of the USTA. Father Richard Williams chose, wisely as time has proven, not to put his child prodigies Venus and Serena under their tutelage. Could that fact possibly be at work here in what appears to be an eagerness to see a “Changing of the Guard?”
ESPN and the USTA are contractually bound at the hip and therefore responsible parties in what I see as disrespectful treatment of the Williams sisters. Maybe it’s because the USTA is so desperate for legitimacy; with its failure in producing top tennis players that it experienced under the many years of Patrick McEnroe’s leadership? (Must have been one hellova contract that still keeps him in the booth at ESPN Tennis as a talking head!)
Venus and Serena remain perfect examples of positivity; no matter what swirls in the media. Most endearing to me is their close bond, it’s as if they understood that it would always indeed be them against the world!
And in the case of Serena it is astonishing to watch her transform her steadfast belief that she is the greatest – in match after match –where she mentally constructs a strategy, then physically delivers play, resulting in the defeat of whomever is on the other side of the net!
In her December interview with Chris Evert, Serena said she was hard at work fine tuning movement and improving her serve; and when asked about Graf’s record of #22 grand slams, she said she was going to go for the gusto this year.
Click Here for Interview→http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12190332]
And aren’t we the lucky ones, Serena does the hard work of fending off those attempting to dethrone her…and all we have to do is watch!
Now the Australian Open gets the sexy championship final match it was probably hoping for with Maria Sharapova versus Serena. Now Sharapova has lost every encounter with Serena since the 2004 Wimbledon. And again I fear the lead story will be all about the fighter coming for Serena and not Serena going for her 19th Grand Slam!
Let’s talk a bit more about history-making and grand slams; Serena has only lost four times in finals. This has her currently tied with Martina Navratilova (18-14) and Chris Evert (18-16) at fourth all-time. Beating Sharapova would place her alongside Helen Wills Moody (19-3), and behind only Margaret Smith Court (24-5) and Steffi Graf (22-9). That Williams continues her climb up the record accomplishments in women’s tennis at the age of 33 is beyond amazing, and frankly, my dear, I’m out of superlatives…OK.
Meanwhile as the tennis season continues I’ll be watching another game that’s being played – the Dodge-Ball game the tennis media is playing as Serena Williams continues her pursuit of Grand Slam #19 and beyond. Go get #19 Serena and let all the other damn games continue, then…LOL! ‘-)
submitted by guest blogger @BlackPearlMoi
Years ago, soon after Venus Williams won her first professional tennis match, someone said to her father…”I think you got the next Michael Jordan
on your hands” to which
Richard Williams responded:
[ #WELP…as the saying goes – Father Knows Best!!! ‘-) LOL ]
Both Venus and Serena are into the fourth round of the 2015 Australian Open – 17 years after the sisters’ first professional match there, they remain the most awesome and interesting story in sports.
The only sisters in the history books to ever attain the Number One and Number Two spots in the world ranking of tennis!