What women’s tennis player can enter a Grand Slam tournament (Australian Open), unseeded, ranked No. 81 and still be a threat to all top seeds, eventually winning the title.
Serena Williams, duh!
With career earnings totaling $25,858,948, the most ever by a female athlete, 11 Grand Slam singles titles, nine women’s doubles titles, and two mixed doubles titles and with arguably the best serve in women’s tennis history, Serena has proven that she goes down as undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, women’s tennis player of all time.
I know this may sound like Jeopardy or some other trivia game, but these are just some of the reasons Serena is one of the greatest tennis players to have ever picked up a racket.
It’s easy for someone to say: “she should have more Grand Slam titles under her belt” or”She has given up so many chances to take titles because of her inconsistencies,” but think about it: Where are those other potential tennis greats that were, at one point, covering the headlines and on everyone’s radar?
Remember Jankovic, who burnt-out before her prime; Henin, a short-lived and survived champ; Venus, only able to win Wimbledons and a few U.S. Opens…and let’s not get started on Mauresmo or the current No. 1, Dinara Safina.
Oh yes, this makes me think of what happened to Clijsters and Capriati. Whatever happened to them?
Jason Whitlock says, “Unfortunately for us, she lacks the courage to fulfill her destiny” in his column: “Serena could be the best ever but…”
Please! Who’s to say what her destiny is? For me, her destiny is partially fulfilled and on its way to completion. She has only plunged down many barriers in the sport that were already in place (barriers way beyond race).
Since her 1999, at age 17, win at the U.S. Open where she defeated Martina Hingis, Serena is one of only a couple familiar faces still left on the tour. She has the longevity to add several more Grand Slam and WTA tour titles to her trophy case.
As an avid fan and player of the sport, I know that Serena’s successes have transcended that of tennis by doing something that no other women’s tennis player [even Venus] has yet to do – made her name a brand. With multi-million dollar Gatorade, HP and Nike endorsements, stepping into the acting realm, becoming a nifty fashion designer and being a fashionista and trendsetter on the court (circa de the U.S. Open catsuit outfit). Serena has done more for women’s tennis than many of the listed “legends” ever did.
I’ll admit it, she hasn’t garnered the equal or probably won‘t surpass Court‘s Grand Slam single’s totals win or touch but that doesn‘t discredit as being one of the best women‘s tennis players ever.
Furthermore, you can’t compare the game of tennis in the days of Court, King, Navratilova, Graff or Evert because the dynamic, power, strength, agility and overall competition has overwhelmingly evolved. Tennis, now, is in a total different league where power and agility are the primary winning components when stepping out on the court.
Let’s be honest. If you were to put some of the “greatest” women’s players of all time on the court with players of today, many of them wouldn’t be contenders for the top-tier rankings – yes I said it. In tennis today, groundstrokes are hit harder and players are much stronger. When you have players on the WTA tour like Jankovic, Venus, Azarenka, Kutzetsova and Dementieva, just to name a few, the nature of the tennis playing field is that much more difficult.
For you to say she just plays the game “because she’s just good at it” is utterly ridiculous. If that were the case then she would’ve threw in the towel years ago, especially with the many injuries she’s suffered that have proven to permanently sideline many past players on the WTA tour.
Such an exaggeration, “size 16 shorts!'” Serena doesn’t have the conventional a-typical tennis player physique but her muscular build is clearly good enough to be any women’s tennis player on the planet.
How about we ask the television networks that when Serena plays if there are ratings higher? I’m sure that they are. Let’s ask Sports Illustrated if casting Serena as a swimsuit centerfold caused any disruption in sales?
From fashion, acting, branding and most importantly tennis, Serena has already written her place in the history books.
So, Mr. Whitlock I think you’re wrong on this. You failed to mention so many of Serena’s actual accomplishments that no other person could ever touch. So to make your statement clear…
Serena could be the best ever but… she already is.
Nyerere C. Davidson is a spring 2008 graduate of Florida A&M University graduate and journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.