Pete Sampras – 14 Grand Slam titles. Most of all time. Broken
Roger Federer – 21 straight Grand Slam semifinals. Most in the Open Era. Broken
Serena Williams – 46 straight Grand Slam victories in the first round of Majors. Broken
The third item in this list is one of the most significant and underrated achievements in all of tennis. Much like the story of Serena Williams. At times glorified, but most of the time vilified by tennis pundits (who wish they could be her). By tennis fans (because of what she has done to their faves) and general disliked because of the colour of her skin, Serena Williams has made her mark in the world of tennis, so much so that today when she lost her opening round match on Court Philip Chartier, it was Breaking News by every major news network in the world. That is the power of Serena Williams.
I watched this match from beginning to end with points in between when I turned it off as I, like most fans of Serena Williams, became disconsolate at her performance during this match. Looking back you could tell that something was not right with Serena.
If you are a fan of this woman you know her history. You know what she brings to the court of tennis. You know her aura and you know her game. Every player in the locker room knows it as well. If you want to beat Serena, you don’t listen to the pundits. You don’t listen to the coaches. You don’t listen to the noise. You listen to yourself. You close your eyes and you swing for the fences, and you pray to whatever deity that you believe in that Serena is off her game by just a notch, and you will hear your name echoed for all the ages.
The French Open has not been a pleasant stomping ground for Serena. She won this title in 2002 on her way to the Serena Slam (holding all 4 Majors though not in a calendar year). Since that victory, she has only made it to the semifinals one time since then where she lost to Justine Henin in a hard fought match, where it was revealed by Henin that yes she did cheat to win that match.
Serena lost that match to a chorus of boos and jeers from the French crowd, and if there is ever any doubt that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a disease or not evident amongst professional tennis player, one need only look at Serena’s career at Roland Garros.
If she wins, it is greeted with a smattering of applause. If she loses it is met with resounding cheers.
Today, 29 May 2012, in her first round match, Serena, for the first time in her career lost in the first round of a Major. She lost to Virginie Razzano, a French player ranked 111 in the world and who has herself seen tragedy, having lost her fiancée/coach last year to cancer.
After the match, Serena walked across the net and shook her opponent’s hand. I will not recap the match here as I am sure that everyone in tennis land has seen it, but suffice it to say that Serena could have played a lot better and Virginie could not have played any better than she did.
Is this the end for Serena? I doubt it. She showed an amazing sense of calmness in her post-match press conference. She did not seem too perturbed by it. It was a bit as if she was almost too accepting of her loss.
Since her return to competitive tennis after her life threatening illness, Serena has seemed a bit complacent in relation to the Majors. She has taken some hard losses since her return, but what has been lost in the equation is the way how her opponents have played. The media would like us to think that Serena has lost her aura. I say that the media needs to stop and take stock of the way in which Serena has lost. Players have had to bring their A+ games in order to dethrone Serena.
Today, Serena fought and she fought hard. She was not on her game, but that does not take away the fact that Razzano, with the French crowd solidly behind her did what 46 other women before her could not do. She defeated Serena Williams in the first round of a Major for the first time in her stellar career. Does this mean that Serena Williams is done. No. All it means is that Wimbledon is a few weeks away and by that time Serena’s game should have caught the flight from Florida and made its way to Europe.
Today, Maria Sharapova had a practice session on Suzanne Lenglen. Alexandra Cadantu needs to join the Futures circuit. She has no business playing on the WTA Tour. Fans joked on twitter that Cadantu told Sharapova thank you at the net. Some joked that they were sure that Sharapova passed her $20.00 for the practice session. I wonder if fans asked for their money back. They probably should.
Tennis writers really need to chill out a bit. It is only tennis.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame needs to continue its investigation of Bob Hewitt, and preferably remove him from the Hall of Fame pending its investigation. If you agree, sign this Petition and make the suffering that these women endured at the hands of a man who “carried a tin of Vaseline” with him whenever he went on coaching sessions with young girls go away.
Venus Williams is a Legend. There is no denying that. She is the epitomy of what a champion of this sport is. As someone who also suffers with an anti-immune disease I can relate to what Venus is currently enduring. Stay strong my champ.
I personally find Mary Carillo and Martina Navratilova to be 2 of the most negative and least influential in the sport of tennis, with Pam Shriver running a close third. Neither Carillo or Navratilova have contributed to the development of women’s tennis in the way that Billie Jean King has done. Their negative views on the state of women’s tennis leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The constant chattering about the shrieking/grunting etc of professional female athletes, leaves me to think that they have nothing else to talk about, or they just want to be one of the boys. Say something positive about women’s tennis or shut up.
Venus plays her second round match tomorrow against Radwanska. That is the only match that I am interested in. Go Venus!!!