Tag: Steffi Graf

Serena Williams Triumphs over Sister Venus to Win Record 23rd Major Title at Australian Open

ct-serena-williams-venus-venus-williams-austra-003
Serena Williams lifts her trophy after defeating her sister Venus Williams in their women’s singles final match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Jan. 28, 2017. (Mark R. Cristino / EPA)

article via chicagotribune.com

Serena Williams held up a Grand Slam winner’s trophy for the 23rd time, celebrating her unrivalled place in history, and received a congratulatory letter and a pair of custom-made shoes from Michael Jordan, the name most synonymous with No. 23.

Venus Williams got to watch from close range again, and shed tears more of joy than regret after being beaten in a major final for the seventh time by her record-breaking younger sister.

Serena won the all-Williams final, the ninth in Grand Slam history and the second in Australia, 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday.  With her record seventh Australian Open title, Serena moved ahead of Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era.

When Serena sat on the court, holding both arms up to celebrate on Saturday, Venus walked over to her sister’s side of the net for a hug.  “This was a tough one,” Serena said. “I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she’s an amazing person — she’s my inspiration.  There’s no way I would be at 23 without her — there’s no way I would be at one without her. Thank you Venus for inspiring me to be the best player I can be and inspiring me to work hard.”

Asked if it felt awkward to be on the receiving end of so many losses to her sister, the 36-year-old Venus didn’t flinch.  “No, because I guess I’ve been here before,” she said. “I really enjoy seeing the name Williams on the trophy. This is a beautiful thing.”

Venus won the last of her seven majors in 2008 at Wimbledon. She didn’t make the second week of a major for a few years as she came to terms with an energy-sapping illness after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011. And she only made it back to the semifinals last year at Wimbledon.

Continue reading “Serena Williams Triumphs over Sister Venus to Win Record 23rd Major Title at Australian Open”

Serena Williams Advances to French Open Final, has Shot at Tying Major Record

Serena Williams (USA) reacts after defeating Kiki Bertens (NED) to advance to the 2016 French Open Final. (Photo: Susan Mullane, USA TODAY Sports)
Serena Williams (USA) reacts after defeating Kiki Bertens (NED) to advance to the 2016 French Open Final. (Photo: Susan Mullane, USA TODAY Sports)

article by Nick McCarvel via usatoday.com

PARIS – Is the world No. 1 – winner of 21 Grand Slam singles title and arguably the best women’s tennis player to ever play the game – the underdog in the French Open final?

In a way, yes.

Serena Williams has dug, scraped and fought her way back into the championship match here on Saturday – far from her best – and is set to take on No. 4 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, a big-hitting Spaniard who has picked up steam this fortnight in her quest for a maiden major trophy.

When the two clash on Court Philippe Chatrier Saturday for the Roland Garros title, it’s the 34-year-old Williams who will have to play catch up.

“If she plays like this, she’s not going to win,” Serena’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou said Friday after another shaky Williams win. “But I don’t expect her to play that level tomorrow. The mental approach has to change. She has to show it.”

That’s the book on Williams: She rises to the occasion, time after time. She did it last year, winning five three-set matches en route to the French Open crown while suffering from the flu. She has done it this week, triumphing in three sets over Yulia Putintseva on Thursday in the quarterfinals and saving a pair of set points against Kiki Bertens on Friday. She’s a convincing 21-5 in major finals in her career.

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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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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

Serena Williams Wins 2015 French Open for 20th Grand Slam Title

Ah, but when Williams plays her best, no one is better. Putting aside a lingering illness, a mid-match lull and a feisty opponent, Williams won her third title at Roland Garros and 20th Grand Slam singles trophy by beating 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 on Saturday.

The No. 1-seeded Williams took the last six games and added to her 2002 and 2013 championships on the French Open’s red clay. Those go alongside six each from the U.S. Open and Australian Open, and five from Wimbledon.

“When I was a little girl, in California, my father and my mother wanted me to play tennis. And now I’m here, with 20 Grand Slam titles,” the 33-year-old American said in French. “This is very special for me. I haven’t always played very well here, but I’m really happy to win the 20th here.”

Only two players in the century-plus history of Grand Slam tennis have won more majors: Margaret Smith Court with 24, and Steffi Graf with 22.

Williams also stretched her Grand Slam winning streak to 21 matches, following titles at the U.S. Open last September and Australian Open in January. She is the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win the Australian Open and French Open back-to-back and heads to Wimbledon’s grass with a chance to extend a bid to accomplish just about the only thing she hasn’t: win a calendar-year Grand Slam.

“Why not?” said her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. “That’s probably the most difficult thing to do in tennis. But it’s possible.”

Saturday’s victory did not come easily for Williams, who skipped practice Friday because she was sick, preferring to rest in her Paris apartment.  Owner of the most feared serve in women’s tennis, she double-faulted 11 times. She made 25 unforced errors in the second set alone, and 42 in all, 25 more than Safarova, a 28-year-old lefty with a whip-like forehand appearing in her first major final.

Williams got broken serving for the match at 6-5 in the second set, then was down 2-0 in the third.  But she kept aiming shots for lines and getting them to go where she wanted, improving to 32-1 in 2015, including 12-0 in three-setters.

“When she was on, she was just serving amazing and going for the returns, pressuring me right away,” said Safarova, who will play in the women’s doubles final Sunday with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands. “It’s just hard to do anything with that.”

When it was over, Williams dropped her racket, threw her head back and lifted her arms into a “V.” In the stands, Mouratoglou held aloft two fingers on his right hand and made a fist with his left, to symbolize “20.”

And to think: Four times in this tournament, Williams dropped the opening set before coming back to win, including in Thursday’s semifinals, when she was lethargic and bothered by the flu.  So the question leading into the final was: How healthy would Williams be? She began providing answers from the get-go.

Williams closed the first game with a 120 mph (194 kph) ace. She went up 3-1 by breaking with a cross-court forehand return winner. The first set flew by and even Safarova acknowledged afterward, “It was looking like it will be an easy match.”

At 4-1 for Williams in the second, seemingly all but over, she began to falter. A dull contest, and the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd, came to life.  “I just had goose bumps,” Safarova said, “hearing those people cheering.”

Coughing between points, Williams double-faulted twice in a row to get broken for the first time, then double-faulted again to make it 4-all.  When Safarova, growing ever more confident, held moments later, she had taken four consecutive games. She stood strong in the tiebreaker and at the outset of the third set, too, displaying the strokes that beat past champions Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic during what Safarova called an “amazing two weeks for me.”

As soon as Safarova made things interesting enough Saturday to perhaps begin thinking about clutching the silver trophy, Williams quickly regained control, as she so often does.

article by Associated Press via latimes.com

Serena Williams Becomes 1st Woman to Win U.S. Open 3 Times in a Row, Ties Navratilova and Evert with 18 Grand Slam Titles

Serena Williams with Martina Navratilova, left, and Chris Evert after Williams’s victory on Sunday. “The sky’s the limit,” Navratilova said of her. (Credit: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times)

They did the cool thing, the classy thing, by bringing Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert out to embellish, or even to authenticate, the occasion of Serena Williams joining their 18 Grand Slam singles victory club Sunday evening after Williams toyed with Caroline Wozniacki in the United States Open final.

The request was made Saturday, Navratilova would say, after standing with Evert in a corner of the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium, waiting for Mary Carillo to cue them to the presentation of the championship trophy and a shiny bracelet.

Once upon an era, the career-long rivals Navratilova and Evert shared bagels in the locker room before fittingly finishing their careers with the same number of slams. Now it was their turn to hug and welcome into the fold a woman they — and Carillo, the former player and esteemed tennis commentator — didn’t always shower with praise, didn’t always think gave the game the respect it deserved.

Serena Williams Named WTA’s Player of the Year

Serena Williams
 Serena Williams poses with the Billy Jean King Trophy after defeating Maria Sharapova of Russia in October in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) — Serena Williams has been named the Women’s Tennis Ass0ciation’s Player of the Year after winning major titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and claiming gold at the London Olympics. Williams, who has won 15 Grand Slam singles titles and four Olympic gold medals, was 48-2 over the final seven months of the season.

It is the fourth time Williams has won the award, which is voted on by international tennis media. She also was named WTA Player of the Year in 2002, 2008 and 2009. Only Steffi Graf (eight times) and Martina Navratilova (seven times) have won the award more than Williams.

article via bet.com

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