Saturday, July 3, 2010

Supreme Serena

Serena Williams is steadily marching into and beyond greatness, and everybody else is getting out of her way.
During an unpredictable two weeks on the women's side at Wimbledon, one giant ocean of belief washed through the whole fortnight, sweeping up everything that drifted in its wake. That ocean was Serena.

It's reasonable to believe that Vera Zvonareva would have played the match of her life today against Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final—if only Serena would have let her.

We know now that it wasn't meant to be.

Zvonareva, match of her life or not, was heading quickly into oblivion.

Today was going to be Serena's day and that was probably made clear in her mind about 15 minutes after she was eliminated from the French Open. First you imagine it, then you do it. For some it sounds like a Nike commercial, but for Serena, the idealistic mantra seems to resonate.

Her 13th Grand Slam title (against a paltry 3 losses in finals) was a convincing and at times awe-inspiring display of grass court tennis that brought back memories of the Navratilova years. Strength, power, desire, and clinical strokes; Physical and mental supremacy.

Serena's ferocious attack, high risk yet effected with pinpoint precision, was in full effect against Zvonareva today. 29 winners and 15 unforced errors (against 9 winners and 11 unforced errors by Zvonareva), made the straight set victory feel quite breezy. It was so clinical that the normally tempestuous Russian hardly had time to get angry with herself.

After 67 minutes, Serena was throwing her racquet up above her head and waving to her entourage with a well-deserved ear-to-ear grin on her face. Zvonareva’s first chance for a Grand Slam title had come and gone before she really knew what had hit her.

Serena's triumph was smash mouth tennis at its finest. It was the indelible ink stamp of a woman approaching physical nirvana on a 29' x 78' grass canvas. It was the exclamation point at the end of her opponent's death sentence. A veritable tour de force was Serena, a rambling rose bush full of prickly thorns that cut.

Say what you will about her, but if you say that Serena isn't the player of the 21st century thus far you're going to be facing an uphill battle when asked for proof of your claim.

Could she reach 18 Grand Slams? 22? It's a lot to ask, but one truth about Serena remains a constant: Her desire to win is gargantuan, and it eclipses that of anyone else on the tour. Her will to win alone could make the tennis Hall of Fame—add to that her ballistic game—89 aces while surrendering only 3 service breaks for the fortnight—and you've got a shoe-in.

It's as if she has burst out of some comic book or big budget sci-fi movie: She's a cross between a truck with a souped-up engine and a streamlined Lamborghini with racing stripes. She can run through you, over you, around you, and she can also outlast you.

Just what universe is Serena playing in anyway? How is it that she can consistently shine in matches of importance? And where will she go from here?

"I don't know where it rates," Serena said, when asked how her straight set win over Zvonareva compared to other Grand Slam titles. "I mean, to have four Wimbledons is really, really exciting."

There are only 5 other women who have outdone Williams' Grand Slam pedigree, and when it comes to strictly serving, many consider Serena to be peerless.

"I've never served like this," said Serena, who faced a measly 10 break points, and erased all but 3 of them, in the tournament.

Her opponent concurred. "She can hit flat and she can use what is very effective on the grass, a slice serve wide where it's very difficult to return," said Zvonareva. "You can cover one side, but then she can go flat very hard the other side," she added. "I think I made a mistake today. I stepped back, and I should have been more aggressive on her second serve."

Unfortunately, for each of Serena's seven Wimbledon victims, hindsight is 20-20.

Serena was simply too good, and that's the story that should go to print.

Those who covet her crown will either have to wait until she loses interest or undergo the type of metamorphosis that one day might make Serena obsolete.

Neither appear likely to happen in the short term.

1 comment:

  1. She was/is unbelievable! She celebatred like it was her first. It was so nice to see her like that.


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