Serena was crowned US Open champion for the 6th time and tied the legendary Martina Navratilova with 18 Grand Slam titles

news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

Princy James | The News Minute | September 12, 2014 | 08:43 am IST

Arms outstretched in jubilation, tears of joy, the applause of thousands around...that’s the moment where all the years of hard work a player had put in find an answer - the moment every athlete dreams of - the birth of a champion. Being there itself is hard, but there are a few who have managed to experience those moments of greatness many a times. In case of Serena Williams, she had been there exactly 18 times. 

Flashback: Pat Cash, “Williams is a lost cause”. The Times. (January 14, 2007)

In 2006, a 7-time Grand Slam winner Serena’s career was at its nadir, perturbed by injuries and off court issues. She had missed the French Open and Wimbledon, finished as No: 95 in the year-end rankings and had piled on weight which affected her movements on the court. But a determined Serena, declared ahead of the Australian Open - the first Grand Slam of the season - that it was only a matter of time before she is again dominating tennis.

Serena Williams 1

Serena Williams celebrates during the awarding ceremony after the women's singles final match against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark at the 2014 U.S. Open in New York on Sept. 7, 2014. Williams won match 2-0 and claimed the title. )

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash felt that Serena was being unrealistic with her overtly confident remark. In a column for ‘The Times’, he wrote unsparingly: “for all her talk, Serena Williams will never return to the top again”. Cash went a bit too far with his criticisms by calling Serena ‘deluded’ for making such a statement. To reiterate his argument, he cited the examples of Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Martina Hingis etc., all of whom failed in their comeback attempts.

Cash wrote: “The Williams sisters changed the face of women’s tennis, taking power play to previously unimaginable levels. They blazed everybody else out of their path. But Serena clearly has a limited attention span. At her peak she had no patience in the way she played her tennis. Now she does not appear to have the fortitude to stick at what she is trying to do.” (Courtesy: The Times)

Two weeks later, Serena won the 2007 Australian Open title, toppling top seed Maria Sharapova in straight sets, thereby becoming the first unseeded player since Chris O’Neil (1978) to win that tournament. Serena had the last laugh then. Cash later admitted his mistake, saying he got it wrong about Serena.

Seven years later, seems like Cash got everything wrong about Serena, especially the patience and fortitude part. Contrary to his calculation, Serena made a comeback like no other, winning 11 more Grand Slams.

Pat Cash At 2010 Us Open

Pat Cash at 2010 US Open; Image source: Wikipedia )

When almost all of her contemporaries have left the circuit (except for her sister Venus), Serena still stands tall even at the age of 32. Like any other player, she also had to battle injuries, even life threatening ones. What makes her unique is her strong passion to profession, resilience and indomitable will. This is what makes her different from players like Martina Hingis, who despite possessing an enormous talent, failed to live up to her full potential.

Even though Serena’s style of play isn’t appreciated by everyone, she has been dominating the sport with her killer serve and power-packed ground strokes for the last 12 years, moreover, her hunger to win more is undoubtedly getting greater with age. After Steffi Graf, she is the greatest player the history of women’s tennis has ever witnessed.

The World No: 1 also has a vibrant life outside the tennis court. Just days after her US Open win, she has unveiled Serena Williams Signature Statement Collection in New York, something which she has been working on alongside her tennis practice during the US Open. She has also acted in a couple of television shows.

Serena Williams 3

( Image Source: Serena William Facebook Page )

Growing up in a tough neighbourhood notorious for its gang activities, Serena highly values education, and believes that it has played a major role in shaping her life and career, hence, her charity foundation is dedicated in helping those who are deprived of such facilities. The Serena Williams Foundation has built a school in Kenya, providing free education and access to poor children. 

Serena, who will be turning 33 this month, is likely to continue focussing on the majors, skipping some of the WTA events, so as to save her body from exertion and injuries. She is definitely not going to stop playing at this stage, at least not for a year or two. The American now stands with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with 18 Grand Slams, behind only Steffi Graf, who has 22, an all-time record in the Open Era.

Years back, in a television interview for Trans World Sport, an 11-year-old Serena was asked who would she want to be like if she were a tennis player. The little girl then replied, “I would like other people to be like me.” By winning 18 Grand Slam titles, she has set a mark for the future generations. Her dream and vision, once again, was proven right.

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