Tennis Elbow: The new Serena the same as the old one
September 24, 2012 · Print This Article
Serena Williams should take a bow, but she won’t because that’s something she would never do. She should take a bow, because she’s the greatest singles player of her era and we’re all clapping her on at this point.
That’s the unofficial title that she has cemented with her stellar results this past summer. Serena started by avenging a poor showing at the French Open, where she lost in the first round, and an overall disappointing first half to the 2012 season, by winning the Wimbledon Championships. As the sixth seed, she lost only one set in defeating in succession the fourth seed Petra Kvitova, the 2nd seed Victoria Azarenka and the third seed Agnieszka Radwanska in her last three matches for the fifth Wimbledon title of her career.
It turns out that Serena was only warming up.
A month later, she covered herself in Olympic gold with just about a perfect week–she won every set that she played and every game but a mere 17. It was a feat as impressive as any in recent memory, as symbolized by her dismantling of Maria Sharapova, then ranked No. 2, in the gold medal match by the score of 6-0 and 6-1.
She simply couldn’t lose and yet, it’s like she had in the eyes of many when she celebrated her gold medal win with an impromptu “crip walk” dance. Though she had suffered health setbacks in the past year (i.e. pulmonary embolism in 2011) that threatened her career, this proved that she hadn’t changed. She “crip walked” on the hollow grounds of the All England Club, because she could. Whether it was intentional or careless was beside the point, because Serena has never been one for etiquette.
For her last act of the summer, Serena captured the US Open. Once again, she was dominant and, until the final, it didn’t look like she’d ever lose. And even in the first set against World No. 1 Azarenka, Serena was in control and won 6-2. But then Azarenka fought back, something that most players never do against the 30-year-old American, and took the second set 7-5 and even had a chance to serve the match out.
She didn’t, of course, because Serena won. And Serena won, because she’s as determined and competitive as anybody else on the WTA Tour. At London and then at the US Open, she proved that she is the type of player for whom the outcome of matches seems to depend only on what she does, because usually Serena will be stronger mentally and have stronger technique than her opponent. That’s not true, but it often looks like Serena wins or loses entirely because of what she does on the court.
Of course, it had been obvious for a while now that the American was a timeless player. She has won over $40 million in prize money in her career, which puts her first among women and fourth all-time among all tennis players. Serena turned professional way back in September of 1995, and yet she still has only 108 losses. That’s how she has managed to be ranked No. 1 five times while twice winning the Tour Championships as well.
Add 45 singles titles and 15 Grand Slams, and it’s an impressive list of accomplishments for the woman who was raised and who started playing tennis in Compton. In the Open era, only Steffi Graff, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova have more Grand Slam titles than her. And this season, Serena has demonstrated that she definitely belongs with these three players and that she is far beyond a Martina Hingis or a Monica Seles. She has ensured that whenever someone looks back at this era in women’s tennis, it’s her name that will be the first to come to mind.
At some point, Serena will retire, and then Azarenka, or anybody else, might actually be the top player on Tour. Until then, don’t let the rankings fool you–every route to glory still goes through Serena Williams. Let’s enjoy this while it’s still the case.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG