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Understanding Serena Williams
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"Champions aren´t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision."
- Muhammad Ali, Boxing Legend
On September 26, 1981, a young couple in Saginaw, Michigan welcomed a baby girl into their family and just like any other parents, hoped that someday she will reach the heights of success on whichever road she takes. Well, the tennis world turned out to be lucky that little 'Serena Jameka Williams' decided to take the 'road to the sporting world' and soon became one of the brightest stars in the women's game. At 27. Serena has 11 Grand Slam titles, two Olympic Gold medals and innumerable tennis victories to her credit at the different stages of her career.
There have been talks about her being the 'best ever', then there have been accusations about her not utilising her potential to the fullest along with a series of doubts on her desire to reach the pinnacle of the sport. But Serena Williams seems to have silenced her critics in her own way. She is like a warrior princess, ready to slug it out with anyone, anywhere and anytime. What makes Serena Williams a cut above the rest?
A closer look at Serena's career gives a testimony of what a fierce competitor she has been. Serena is one of the few tennis players to have successfully maintained an edge over players from three different generations. The past decade has witnessed some of the best ladies matches in the open era and evidently Serena Williams happens to be a part of most of those classic encounters. Whether it's the 2001 Australian Open quarterfinal against Hingis, or the 2003 French Open semifinal against Justine Henin, Williams has been able to generate such a high level of competition in the sport that has produced no less than masterpieces.
There is a little bit of emotional element to Williams' victories in the past decade. Her sentimental meltdown after the 2003 Roland Garros loss to Justine Henin followed a crushing defeat of the Belgian at Wimbledon, which Serena saw as an ultimate revenge. Similarly, her loss in the final of the 2002 WTA Championships to Kim Clijsters also saw the settling of scores the next time the pair met, and that too with the same scoreline (7-5, 6-3)
Allegedly, Serena Williams was not happy with Barbara Schett's remarks over sister Venus after the Austrian's upset win over Wimbledon champion at the 2001 French Open. Serena made sure that she did not spare even a single game in her next meeting with the Austrian.
Evidently, Serena believes in mixing the element of rivalry in all her matches to have a competitive edge. Is that the key to her success? Is Serena more than just a player on court? Does a dramatic approach help Serena in her matches? If yes, then Serena can not be blamed entirely for it. From time to time, she has faced uninvited comments over her playing style and her approach towards the game from fellow players. Amelie Mauresmo was once quoted as saying that Williams' domination is a little bit sad for women's tennis. Justine henin, on the other hand, termed Williams hegemony as 'tedious'. It all seemed to work out for the American as she always seemed to utilise those comments to fuel her desire towards winning and proving that she is the best in the business.
Some people consider Serena to be very opinionated. The truth is, she does not shy away from expressing her desire to be the best in the game. And to other's dismay, she believes in constantly working for it. She is undoubtly the best player from her generation and exhibits all the qualities to dream about being in the elite group of players that bears the likes of Grafs and Navratilovas of the game.
Williams' focus on Grand Slams has made her extremely successful in the past couple of years. Such a career strategy may not fetch her the No.1 ranking, but in her own words, she is happy being No.2 and winning slams.
Nobody knows how many Grand Slams Serena Williams will end up with. However, one thing is for sure, in her presence, WTA will not have to put any extra efforts in finding a better entertainer. The fact remains that with her around, there is never a dearth of excitement, drama and sporting brilliance.
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