Despite losing the 2019 U.S. open tennis, Serena is still the greatest of all times
BY SOUMANOU SALIFOU
Despite losing to Canadian rising tennis star Bianca Andreescu this evening 3-6, 5-7 in the women’s final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Serena Williams, once the reigning champion of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, WTA champions and Olympic women’s singles and doubles, has remained the Greatest Of All time. Serena not only has the best record of any contemporary players, male or female, but also has brought the game of tennis to a new level with her formidable, unsurpassed serve. That along with her sister Venus who has 47 titles to her name.
Tonight’s loss to a younger, healthier opponent was Serena’s fourth failed attempt to win her 24th grand slam to equal the record set by Margaret Court. It was Serena’s fourth final in the past six majors. Prior to tonight, she lost all three previous ones: against German’s Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon in July 2018, to Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows in September 2018, and to Simona Halep just two months ago.
If for Serena tonight’s victory would have been a victory over stubborn knee and back injuries, for her fans it would have been a victory over the seemingly never-ending frustration to see their idol miss the target again and again. Owing to her battle against injuries as a new mother, she has stated time and time again that she was also doing it for “all the mothers out there.” To her credit, the Greatest Of All Times also lacked practice to be at the top of her game. But all that now has to wait. She definitely instilled hope in her fans with her stunning performance during the last set by winning four games in a row, with her 25,000 fans present cheering.
Tennis is one of the few sports that are not practiced by a large number of black people, unlike track and field, basketball, football, soccer and others that are dominated by blacks….who excel in them. But a few exceptions stand out: The late No. 1 seed Arthur Ashe Jr., winner of three Grand Slams titles, the first black tennis player to win the Wimbledon, with a major tennis stadium in New York graced with his name; and James Blake, a retired African American tennis player once ranked No. 4 in the world. That is not to mention the phenomenal impact the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, have made on the game.
The little black girl who grew up in Compton, California, an economically-depressed suburb of violence-prone Los Angeles, and was brought to tennis along with her older sister Venus by their father, tennis aficionado Richard Williams, did not tap-dance her way to success. Besides tough training, she had to battle several injuries—some of which kept her out of high-stake competitions—before winning her first U.S. Open in 1999 at the tender age of 18. Racking up victories after victories, she rose to the top of the game in the early 2000s, beating the best players, Hingis, Capriati and her own sister Venus, also a star in the sport.
Though she now belongs to the pantheon of the world’s best athletes, Serena has not forgotten where she came from. Asked in an ESPN interview after winning her sixth Wimbledon title what athlete she admires the most outside tennis, Serena replied “Muhammad Ali.” Ali the greatest, that key member of the extensive family of black champions who have lifted up the black world time and time again, a family so large one can only list a few of its illustrious members: Arthur Ashe, Michael Jordan, Ryan Howard, Usain Bolt and Samuel Et’o.