Why Serena Williams Matters

I love tennis. I always have since I was a little kid. I love to watch the men and the women play and I know the history of tennis inside and out-literally. My interest has gone back and forth over the years to which I like more. For the past 10 years or so it has been squarely upon mens tennis because of the presence of 3 of the 5 greatest players of all-time playing at the same time: Roger Federer; Rafael Nadal; and Novak Djokovic. The womens game has suffered in the last ten years except for one constant source of intrigue, drama and absolute brilliance-Serena Williams. On the day Serena starts her quest for the calendar year grand slam at the US Open, here is why Serena Williams matters.
Serena Williams, Why Serena WIlliams Matters, Serena, US Open
Serena Williams is a star. She is the best female tennis player of all time and I will argue she is the best female athlete of all-time period. She is a woman. She is a full-figured black woman. She has a massive personality and a vibrant smile. She has been extremely volatile at times on court. She has had a lot of off court and injury drama over the course of her career. Her sister is also an all-time great tennis player. They grew up in Compton, California of all places. Serena Williams does not get the respect from mainstream media that she deserves. Serena has been slighted for years for a variety of reasons.

Serena Williams currently holds all four grand slam singles titles. This is the second time in her career that she has completed the so-called Serena Slam. That is unprecedented and truly remarkable. However, for whatever reason she doesn’t get the respect and admiration from the US and global media that this achievement merits. Why is this?

I think there are a lot of racial undertones in tennis and the old guard is remiss to crown her the greatest of all-time. I’ve heard arguments like she didn’t have a great rival like Martina Navratilova had Chris Evert. She hasn’t had the competition that Steffi Graf had. Had Monica Seles not been stabbed, she could’ve won a lot more and it goes on and on. This is all irrelevant.

Serena Williams along with her sister Venus have won 28 majors between them. To say that Serena hasn’t had a great rival is completely false. Venus Williams is an all-time great player and had it not been for Serena, we’d be talking about her as possibly the greatest of all time.

Serena also spanned generations. She beat Martina Hingis, the beloved Swiss Miss at the 1999 US Open-1999! This year at the 2015 US Open she goes to tie Steffi Graf and win a calendar year grand slam in her mid 30’s. That’s amazing yet so many dismiss it.

Along the way, she had rivalries with multiple major winners like Justine Henin, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova amongst others. Her record against these top players is unreal. She beats her contemporaries at over an 80% clip and Sharapova, who has a career grand slam to her credit, hasn’t beaten Serena in a decade. Yet Sharapova is the highest paid female athlete in the world. Serena’s rivalries are so one sided because she is that good.
Serena WIlliams, US Open
Serena Williams is 21-4 in grand slam finals. That is appallingly good. To put that into perspective, Roger Federer is 17-9. Novak Djokovic is 9-8 and Rafa Nadal is 14-6. When Serena Williams is healthy there is nobody that can beat her except herself. She is the most mentally tough player I’ve ever seen in mens or womens tennis and if you’ve ever played competitive tennis-it’s 80% mental and confidence.

People criticize her because she is strong and dismiss her dominance attributing it to brut strength versus other women. That’s complete BS. Serena has every shot in the book, she’s fast, smart and plays better on big points than anyone else ever has man or woman. Yes she has the greatest serve in the history of the women’s game and she gets criticized for that at times from tennis people.

Pete Sampras, who many consider one of the top mens players ever, had what I consider the best serve of all-time in the mens game. He is lauded for it even though he only won 14 majors and never won the French Open nor made it past the semifinals.

I could go on and on but it has pissed me off for years that Serena doesn’t get her just do for what she is, the greatest tennis player of all-time man or woman. Plus, in my mind, she is the greatest and most dominant female athlete of all-time and there’s not even a close second.

Serena Williams matters because she is not only the best and on the precipice of doing something that nobody can argue against but because she is who she is and she doesn’t give a shit about what anyone thinks. I love everything about her attitude, her game, and how she shows up and does what so many don’t want her to do. She’s been doing it for 16 years with no signs of slowing down.

Without injury and a lack of focus earlier in her career, she probably could’ve won 30 grand slams already. That said, I cannot wait to be there in 2 weeks at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City to witness in person, the greatest of all-time, Serena Williams, win the calendar year grand slam. By doing so, she will shut everyone up and put every racial and social stereotype behind her. That’s why Serena Williams matters.

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  1. Well said Lee! I couldn’t agree more. People forget that Serena and Venus played in 9-10 finals against each other and you’re exactly right that if it weren’t for injuries Serena would be around 30. I’m excited to watch the Open this year!

  2. I agree she is the greatest woman tennis player but not greatest athlete. You cannot compare sports or eras.

    • Jonatas from Boston says

      I grew up a Venus fan myself, but the scoreboard doesn’t lie, Serena has done it all, she is the greatest. And not that it matters, but she’s not bad to look at either. B-)

  3. Great post!

  4. Yay Go Serena!!!

  5. She is without question the greatest female player ever and if you talk about domination in a vacuum then she would be the most dominant tennis player ever, male or female.

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