Serena Williams needs no introduction. Easily the most dominating player of her era, Serena has become the face of the WTA for the past decade and half now. But the question lies: Where does she stand on the list of the greatest players ever.
In tennis, comparison is hard. But Serena has often set the standards so high, that she stands out even among the greats. A record 22 Grand Slam titles, 5 Tour Final Titles, and 71 WTA titles. The numbers speak volumes but are probably not enough to justify her success to tennis fans around the world.
One can quite say that Williams has revolutionized tennis. In her initial years, she quickly ascended to the top, and established herself as a contender for any and every title. And though she faced a few rough patches in between, she once again rose back, with the character of a champion, cementing her place in history books as one of the greatest. But once again, is she the greatest ever?
The WTA Tour has been synonymous with unpredictability. Unlike the Men’s circuit, which is dominated by a few players at the top, the women’s circuit has rarely been so, and Serena was one such rarity. With convincing wins to sheer domination, she had it all, and her injuries never really held her back. Through the past 15 years, Serena has been the beacon of domination in the WTA. Her consistence and dominance have been unparalleled. Four Slams in a row, each in 2002-03 and 2014-15 just prove that Serena hasn’t aged one bit. She remains the same athlete she was as a 17 year old and as a 34 year old, in a sport that is physically demanding, and at the same time, mentally exhausting.
Right from her 1999 US Open triumph, to this date, she has always been a two edged sword. There are always two aspects to a player’s game: the mental one and the physical one. And right when you get the perfect balance of the two, you get Serena Williams. Serena has always been the mentally strong player she is. The sheer intensity with which she dictates every point, to stunning comebacks from situations where giving up seems the only option, Serena comes up with her best. Serena certainly does excel mentally. But her gameplay is also influenced by power. An aggressor on court, Williams possesses the most lethal serves the tennis world has ever seen, and her court coverage is as mind boggling. Let’s not forget to mention the power packed forehand, probably one of the most potent weapons ever seen in the game.
With what Williams has achieved, she becomes a contender for being the greatest tennis player to embrace the sport. And it is probably the most debatable tennis topic, with well decorated contenders such as Steffi Graff, Roger Federer and Martina Navratilova, who’ve achieved as much as Serena.
And while other legends do share similar traits with Williams, what makes Williams stand out is the longevity of her domination, which doesn’t seem close to ending even at an astonishing 35 years of age. A rare Jewel she is. A career so distinguished, successful, with a few setbacks on the way, it can only be described as perfect. And let’s just hope it gets better, and declines in as perfect a manner as it started. Happy 35th Birthday Serena Williams.
Rahul is a tennis enthusiast and loves to write about sports in general. His inspirations are Rafael Nadal, Michael Phelps and Roger Federer.