Tag: Serena Slam

Serena Williams is Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year

Serena William Sports Illustrated Cover

Real life? For Serena Williams, that’s the easy part now. That’s how it works when you zoom—beyond tennis, beyond $74 million in prize money, beyond one of the greatest late-career runs in sports history—into celebrity hyperspace. That’s how it is when each “Come on!” is taken as a war cry by everyone from “Lean in” women to age-defying codgers to body-shamed kids to #BlackLivesMatter protesters to, yes, the voices of racial conciliation. The outside world accommodates. Real life does you favors.

Indeed, in 2015 Williams hit this rare sweet spot, a pinch-me patch where the exotic became the norm. She danced with Donald Trump on New Year’s Eve. She spent a night telling bedtime stories to the children of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Growing up, Williams had devoured every Harry Potter book, marveled at the business empires of Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. Now J.K. Rowling was tweeting against a critic of Williams’s body, now Oprah was hustling to watch her at the U.S. Open, now Stewart was calling Williams “the most powerful woman I know.” President Barack Obama, the most scrutinized man alive, told her how great it was to watch her.

Even Williams’s most dubious moves paid off. In July, just as her drive for tennis’s first Grand Slam in 27 years hit the bell lap, she appeared in Pixels, a comedic bomb in which she anticipated a Lincoln Bedroom sex sandwich with Stewart and Peter Dinklage. Yet she escaped critical savaging, and, oh, the movie grossed $243 million. Williams’s November decision to chase down a cellphone thief in San Francisco seemed equally foolhardy—until, that is, the guy gave her phone back. Meekly.

Photo: Yu Tsai for Sports Illustrated

No, this year only the game gave Williams trouble. Only the 78-by-36-foot confines of a tennis court, be it blue asphalt or red clay or green grass, produced the kind of pushback that no amount of money or fame can overcome. If the real world felt like one A-list club after another, eagerly waving Williams in, tennis was the world’s most annoying bouncer, forever checking her ID. Tennis made her desperate. Then it made her hurt.

The results, of course, hardly imply that: Williams, 34, won three major titles, went 53–3 and provided at least one new measure of her tyrannical three-year reign at No. 1. For six weeks this summer—and for the first time in the 40-year history of the WTA rankings—Williams amassed twice as many ranking points as the world No. 2; at one point that gap grew larger than the one between No. 2 and No. 1,000. Williams’s 21 career Grand Slam singles titles are just one short of Steffi Graf’s Open-era record. Such numbers are reason enough for Sports Illustrated to name Serena Williams its 2015 Sportsperson of the Year.

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Serena Williams Named WTA Player of the Year for the 4th Year In A Row

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Serena Williams had an awesome 2015. While her U.S. Open loss kept her from completing a calendar slam, she won the “Serena Slam,” racking up all four major titles in a row.

At 34, Williams is still the most dominant player in tennis, and the Women’s Tennis Association just confirmed it–again.

The WTA named Williams the Player of the Year for the fourth time in a row.

Here’s why the WTA honored Williams with tennis’ top award.

Her dominance of the tour was so great that she made WTA Rankings history in the summer, too. For six weeks she actually had over twice as many ranking points as the No.2, something that had never happened before – Maria Sharapova was that No.2 for three weeks, Simona Halep the other three.

But the Grand Slams and historic ranking points lead are just the tip of the iceberg on the World No.1’s season. Her overall record was a sensational 53-3 – she won two more big WTA titles at Miami and Cincinnati, the only losses coming in the Madrid semifinals, the Toronto semifinals, and the US Open semifinals.

Williams also pocketed $10,582,642 in 2015, second only to her own $12,385,572 from 2013.

While Williams’ reign is undeniable, she wasn’t the only one in the family to take home an award. Serena’s big sister, Venus Williams, was also named WTA’s Comeback Player of the Year.

 

article via clutchmagonline.com

The New York Times Magazine Features Claudia Rankine Article “The Meaning of Serena Williams: On Tennis and Black Excellence”

Serena Williams cover
Serena Williams (CHRISTOPHER GRIFFITH FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Editor-in-Chief
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Editor-in-Chief

Award-winning poet, playwright and professor Claudia Rankine has authored a cover article for the New York Times Magazine on tennis great Serena Williams.  “The Meaning of Serena Williams: On Tennis and Black Excellence” was digitally published yesterday, a week before the start of the U.S. Open and Williams’ opportunity to not only achieve a Grand Slam (winning all four major tennis tournaments in one calendar year) but also tie Steffi Graf‘s record of most Grand Slam titles won in the modern era (22) by a female.

It seems with this article the New York Times is accomplishing two things – finally hiring a black female writer to write about a prominent black female (remember the Shonda Rhimes “Angry Black Woman” debacle authored by Alessandra Stanley last September?) and attempting to make up for the poorly-received article written in July of this year by Ben Rothberg that was considered to be “body shaming” of muscular female athletes and Serena Williams specifically.

But whatever the intentions, we are happy for the existence of Rankine’s piece, the thoughtful analysis of racism, black excellence, and Serena’s career that it makes, and mostly, because we are rooting HARD for Serena to take the title and make even more history.  Check out an excerpt from the article below:

“The Meaning of Serena Williams” by Claudia Rankine

There is a belief among some African-Americans that to defeat racism, they have to work harder, be smarter, be better. Only after they give 150 percent will white Americans recognize black excellence for what it is. But of course, once recognized, black excellence is then supposed to perform with good manners and forgiveness in the face of any racist slights or attacks. Black excellence is not supposed to be emotional as it pulls itself together to win after questionable calls. And in winning, it’s not supposed to swagger, to leap and pump its fist, to state boldly, in the words of Kanye West, ‘‘That’s what it is, black excellence, baby.’’

Imagine you have won 21 Grand Slam singles titles, with only four losses in your 25 appearances in the finals. Imagine that you’ve achieved two ‘‘Serena Slams’’ (four consecutive Slams in a row), the first more than 10 years ago and the second this year. A win at this year’s U.S. Open would be your fifth and your first calendar-year Grand Slam — a feat last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988, when you were just 6 years old. This win would also break your tie for the most U.S. Open titles in the Open era, surpassing the legendary Chris Evert, who herself has called you ‘‘a phenomenon that once every hundred years comes around.’’ Imagine that you’re the player John McEnroe recently described as ‘‘the greatest player, I think, that ever lived.’’ Imagine that, despite all this, there were so many bad calls against you, you were given as one reason video replay needed to be used on the courts. Imagine that you have to contend with critiques of your body that perpetuate racist notions that black women are hypermasculine and unattractive. Imagine being asked to comment at a news conference before a tournament because the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, Shamil Tarpischev, has described you and your sister as ‘‘brothers’’ who are ‘‘scary’’ to look at. Imagine.

The word ‘‘win’’ finds its roots in both joy and grace. Serena’s grace comes because she won’t be forced into stillness; she won’t accept those racist projections onto her body without speaking back; she won’t go gently into the white light of victory. Her excellence doesn’t mask the struggle it takes to achieve each win. For black people, there is an unspoken script that demands the humble absorption of racist assaults, no matter the scale, because whites need to believe that it’s no big deal. But Serena refuses to keep to that script. Somehow, along the way, she made a decision to be excellent while still being Serena. She would feel what she feels in front of everyone, in response to anyone. At Wimbledon this year, for example, in a match against the home favorite Heather Watson, Serena, interrupted during play by the deafening support of Watson, wagged her index finger at the crowd and said, ‘‘Don’t try me.’’ She will tell an audience or an official that they are disrespectful or unjust, whether she says, simply, ‘‘No, no, no’’ or something much more forceful, as happened at the U.S. Open in 2009, when she told the lineswoman, ‘‘I swear to God I am [expletive] going to take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat.’’ And in doing so, we actually see her. She shows us her joy, her humor and, yes, her rage. She gives us the whole range of what it is to be human, and there are those who can’t bear it, who can’t tolerate the humanity of an ordinary extraordinary person.

In the essay ‘‘Everybody’s Protest Novel,’’ James Baldwin wrote, ‘‘our humanity is our burden, our life; we need not battle for it; we need only to do what is infinitely more difficult — that is, accept it.’’ To accept the self, its humanity, is to discard the white racist gaze. Serena has freed herself from it. But that doesn’t mean she won’t be emotional or hurt by challenges to her humanity. It doesn’t mean she won’t battle for the right to be excellent. There is nothing wrong with Serena, but surely there is something wrong with the expectation that she be ‘‘good’’ while she is achieving greatness. Why should Serena not respond to racism? In whose world should it be answered with good manners? The notable difference between black excellence and white excellence is white excellence is achieved without having to battle racism. Imagine.

To read the rest of Rankine’s feature on Williams, click nytimes.com.

Serena Williams Wins 21st Grand Slam by Defeating Garbiñe Muguruza for Wimbledon Singles Title

Serena Wins Wimbledon (Photo via latimes.com)
Serena Wins Wimbledon (Photo via latimes.com)

They will start preparing the red carpet in New York City soon for Serena Williams.

She won the Wimbledon tennis title Saturday, her sixth and her 21st Grand Slam title, by beating a young Spaniard, Garbiñe Muguruza, 6-4, 6-4.

That meant that Williams had completed her second “Serena Slam” — four major titles in a row — and also meant she would be gunning for a rare calendar-year Grand Slam at the U.S. Open in New York, starting in late August.

Only one other player in the modern era of tennis has achieved that, Steffi Graf in 1988, when she also won an Olympic gold medal. Mo Connolly in 1953 and Margaret Court in 1970 are the only women who have previously won calendar-year Grand Slams.

Williams, typically, started slowly against the 20-year-old, 20th-ranked Muguruza, falling behind in the first set, 1-3 and 2-4. But she roared back for a 6-4 victory and kept rolling to a 5-2 lead in the second set.

Usually, at this point on the women’s tour against the No. 1 and always dominant Williams, the other player packs it in.

Not Muguruza. To the delight of the packed Centre Court crowd of 15,000, she broke Williams’ serve twice to get back on serve, but then yielded at love in her 4-5 service game.

article by Bill Dwyre via latimes.com

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