Despite Serena Williams’ illustrious track record, the tennis star has been plagued with criticism since the birth of her daughter. But after storming ahead to the finals of the US Open, she’s proved that no-one should underestimate a champion.
If you’ve been paying attention to the newspapers over the last two years, you might assume that the reign of Serena Williams was drawing to a close. With the birth of her first child, a sprinkling of injuries, and that “outburst” at the chair umpire at last year’s US Open final, the mainstream media has painted a picture of a once-great sportswoman in the closing stages of her career.
But Williams isn’t a tennis champion for nothing. She’s got 23 Grand Slam victories, 72 WTA titles, a 343-48 Grand Slam record, and four Olympic golds under her belt. And when the going gets tough, there are few players who can come back from the brink and showcase their excellence quite like her.
Case in point: this year’s US Open. Amidst the buzz over rising tennis superstar Coco Gauff, defending champion Naomi Osaka’s dominance, and Roger Federer’s career longevity, Serena Williams has been all but fallen by the wayside. But as this year’s tournament proves, she’s still getting the job done.
For all the naysayers that had written off Williams over the past two years, Thursday’s semi-final match against Elina Svitolina was a defiant statement of intent, as the tennis star stormed through to the finals after a blistering 6-3 6-1 performance.
Throughout the entire match, Williams exhibited nothing but total domination, notching up 33 winners, and winning 81% of her first serve points. After just one hour and ten minutes, the American prevailed to her second grand slam final this year, just two days after celebrating her milestone 100th win at the US Open in her career.
Many have pointed out that Williams hasn’t been crowned a winner since becoming a mother, as if motherhood was a credible way to score points against a woman’s competence. But as Williams is proving, her form is simply stronger than ever, and her chances of matching the 24 Grand Slam singles titles of all-time leader Margaret Court, as well as becoming the fourth mother to ever win a Grand Slam title, draw closer.
“I feel like in this tournament, I’ve definitely turned a different zone,” Williams told the New York Post. “I’m not sure if I can articulate what zone that is. But it’s not about kind, it’s not to myself, it’s not about anything in particular. It’s definitely something different, though.”
Whatever that zone is, Williams is always on hand to remind us that there is no blueprint for a tennis champion, and being different makes you unique. Two years to the day after welcoming her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, into the world, the tennis champion posted a photo to Instagram celebrating the occasion.
“The last 2 years have been my greatest accomplishment,” she captioned alongside a photo of her cradling her newborn baby, with her husband, the Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian proudly looking on.
Tomorrow, the six-time US Open champion takes on Canada’s Bianca Andreescu in the finals, four weeks after she was forced to retire from the Rogers Cup final with a back injury. Williams paid her opponent a moving tribute as she accepted defeat, but she’ll no doubt be in fierce pursuit of the cup this time around.
Now, more than ever, is the time to recognise Williams’ brilliance, her persistence, and her winning mentality in a world that has been doubting her form. The tennis star is on a bid to collect a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title, and we should never underestimate her.