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Serena Williams still the one they have to beat

LEGEND: Serena Williams

WINS AND losses tend to make people zoom in and focus on the why and how those wins and losses came about – you may have witnessed this in the wake of the Serena Williams defeat in the singles final at Wimbledon or the England cricket team’s recent World Cup win at Lord’s.

There’s a tendency to go overboard and zero in on the finest details that contributed to the win or loss; it’s a normal part of post competition analysis, some would say a necessary part of the process, which brings about greater understanding.

In the case of Williams, there were a lot of tennis fans questioning whether or not the American will ever again win another Grand Slam. ‘Does she still have what it takes to
cross the finish line?’ was the recurring theme, following the close of this year’s Wimbledon.

However, if you zoom out a bit, step back and take a look at what the 37-year-old has achieved in the past two years since she came back from having her baby, her achievements remain a wonder to behold.

At times it’s difficult to know if the zealous scrutiny the younger of the Williams sisters has experienced in this period is a result of frustration from those who desperately want to be able to say that ‘they were there’ when the 23 Grand Slam owner equals and eventually surpasses Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

DESIRE

Or, is the constant questioning of Williams’ desire and ambition an underhand attempt to pile as much pressure on her shoulders in order to make her pursuit of greatness that little bit harder?

In short, some don’t want her to get the record. Let’s make no bones about it, Williams was beaten comprehensively at Wimbledon this year by Simona Halep in under an hour. That type of defeat will get nega- tive tongues wagging.

But a look at the fact that Williams had beaten Halep nine times prior to that match, losing just once to the Romanian, gives you an insight into just how well the 27-year- old played. Add to that she born is challenging the best in the game to raise their standards.

Following her win over Barbora Strycova, Williams acknowledged that even she wondered where she still found the will to go out on court and be the best she can be.

POWERS

Whether it’s her inimitable powers that are on the decline as she gets older or the fact that she is not as active as she used to be away from the Grand Slams, something she says she will be addressing moving forward as she heads to the US Open and Flushing Meadows, it’s a wonder why more scrutiny is given to the rest of the women’s game.

Where is the next dominant champion?

Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff showed heaps of potential by reaching the last 16 of this year’s Wimbledon having been given a wild card entry. But she is only 15 and it will be a while before she develops the steely, physical resolve required to handle the rigours of top tier tennis.

What of the others? Are they comfortable having seen Williams come back from her pregnancy hiatus and stroll into three Grand Slam finals when she isn’t anywhere near her best? Surely that is the most interesting outcome of this last two years. No one has stepped up to own it.

If Williams can manage her on-court career and everything else she does away from tennis and still reach the pinnacle of the sport, I can’t see her going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

Furthermore, if she zooms in a little, and decides for herself just to focus on tennis, it could be a wrap for everyone, at least until she breaks the record. Tennis fans the world over should be grateful for being able to witness such a pursuit of greatness. Whether she is at her best or not, Williams is helping to raise the bar.

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