Before I start out on the incredible journey of 2 women who in their own way are trying to make history, I just have a few thoughts on what happened on social media during Serena Williams' semifinal against Timea Bascinszky of Switzerland.
Before the match even started there were tweets from notable tennis personalities who have absolutely no agenda stating that Serena Williams was ill. BBC tennis tweeted that Jana Novotna had told them that she had seen Serena and that she looked ill.
Jana Novotna has just told us... "I saw Serena in the locker room. She seem subdued and sluggish" pic.twitter.com/SEBdttXAhy— BBC Tennis (@bbctennis) June 4, 2015
On Eurosport TV, commentators indicated that during Serena looked really ill during her warm up and that she had aborted her morning practice session as she was coughing up her lungs. What does this have to do with what will happen on Saturday? One of Serena's colleagues, Ms. Tara Moore (current rank unknown) had this to say
Not only is serena one of the best women players of all time, she's also one of the best actresses #suckitup #learnhowtolose #pathetic— Tara Moore (@TaraMoore92) June 4, 2015
And then there was this gem
Not taking away the fact that serena is amazing but if you feel that sick then stop! Could be dangerous! Bacsinzsky is playing amazing!!!— Tara Moore (@TaraMoore92) June 4, 2015
One of the reasons why I have no idea what Ms. Moore's ranking is, its because she is not listed on the WTA's website which I think lists the top 100. Luckily for Ms. Moore, her colleague, Laura Robson gave her a lesson in fighting until the last point, something I don't think Ms. Moore will ever get.
@TaraMoore92 I'm not convinced the pathetic hashtag can apply to one of the best players of all time? #19slams— Laura Robson (@laurarobson5) June 4, 2015
Apart from the ridiculous nature of her tweets, Ms. Moore seems to not get the point that this is a Grand Slam. There are not many players who have won these. Ms. Williams has won 19 and she is going for history. History that will no doubt put women's tennis on the map if she is able to pull it off. Clearly, Ms. Moore, though she says she is a fan of Serena, is apparently only a fan when it suits her. How could you not appreciate a player who was dead on her feet, battling through to win a match at this level? How could you not stand and applaud this person, no matter how you feel about her and say too good? I have to say that Ms. Moore is not the only person whose comments on social media during Serena's match puzzle me. I am trying to figure out where is the lack of sportsmanship that was being displayed. Did Serena play slow between points? Did she take a medical time out when she should not have? Did she call for the doctor repeatedly knowing full well that the doctor could not give her any medication? What exactly did Serena do during her match against Timea to make people question her sportsmanship?
This issue of sportsmanship in tennis deserves its own column, but frankly, I don't think I undestand this penchant for villifying a player who pulls a Houdini because her opponent fell for the rope a dope (if indeed that even happened). I could swear that they taught mental stuff during tennis camp. In any event, Serena Williams is into the French Open women's final and she will face Lucie Safarova.
FRENCH OPEN WOMEN'S FINAL
Overcoming heat & Timea #Bacsinszky, @serenawilliams reaches her 24th major final. READ: http://t.co/OqIngZyYaX #RG15 pic.twitter.com/kBxHOY1vhG— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 4, 2015
How she got here -
1st round - Andrea Hlavackova
2nd round - Anna-Lena Friedsam
3rd round - Victoria Azarenka
4th round - Sloane Stephens
quarter -final - Sara Errani
semifinal - Timea Bascinzsky
There are scenic routes and then there is the Serena Scenic Route. Apart from her straight sets win against her first round opponent (Hlavackova) and her quarter final opponent (Errani), Serena has battled her way through 3 set match after 3 set match, coming from a set and a break down in each of those matches. However her biggest win really came in the semifinals when once again battling a game opponent and illness, Serena came once again from a set down to make her second French Open final in 3 years and a chance to make history by being the first player in over 20 years to win the Australian and French Open back to back. Even more significant, it would be three quarters of the way through another Serena Slam or half way to a true calendar year Grand Slam.
"It's a dream come true, I still cannot believe it. The happiness is unreal!" Congrats Lucie Safarova @rolandgarros pic.twitter.com/HD5Dm3DWIV— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) June 4, 2015
How she got here -
1st round - Pavlychenkova
2nd round - Kurumi Nara
3rd round - Sabine Lisicki
4th round - Maria Sharapova
quarter-final - Garbine Muguruza
semifinal - Ana Ivanovic
Never dropping a set. Playing aggressive focused tennis, Safarova has shed the name "Almost" and has really embraced the big stage. Her path to the final is not only incredible in the fact that she has not dropped a set, but also the fact that she is also playing doubles and has made her way to the semifinals of that event.
Who Will Win
How do you bet against a proven champion. Once Serena gets to this stage of a Grand Slam event, she has only lost on 4 occassions. Commentators love to say that players who get to this stage of an event of a Grand Slam have nothing to lose and that they will swing for the fences. Case in point was Francesca Schiavone who won the French Open in 2010 and Samantha Stosur who won the US Open in 2011. On both occassions both players closed their eyes and played their best tennis. If Safarova wants a chance to have her name in the history books, this is what she will need to do. Close her eyes and swing for the fences.
Serena is playing for history. We saw how she faced down history last year when she was looking to tie with Martina and Chris Evert. She finally cleared that hurdle and to surpass those 2 legends, she played brilliant tennis in Australia. Next on her to do list is Steffi Graf. Her coach has said that the calendar year Grand Slam is doable. I think Serena believes that as well.
The head to head is decidedly in Serena's favour but Lucie will no doubt close her eyes and swing for the fences. However, history is on the line and that is why we will see final day Serena on Saturday to take her 20th Grand Slam title.