Still going strong: Serena Williams and her enduring champion status
There are few names as synonymous with their sport as Serena Williams and tennis. Along with her sister Venus, Serena has brought women’s tennis to a new level of speed and physicality over the last 25 years or so, all while becoming one of the most decorated player in the history of the women’s game, now standing just one behind Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles.
And so the aim for Williams as she heads into this year’s US Open is to equal that record. It’ll be easier said than done – after all, she hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the Australian Open in 2017. That’s a stat that seems incredible when you consider that Williams has appeared in four Grand Slam finals since then, but she has lost each one, most recently losing to Bianca Andreescu in the final of last year’s US Open.
With a number of top players not taking part in this year’s US Open due to concerns over the safety of the event in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Williams might just fancy her chances of getting to that magic number of 24. The US Open tennis odds from Betfair suggest that she is the top favourite to win the event ahead of the likes of Naomi Osaka and Karolina Plíšková.
The fact that Williams is still reaching Grand Slam finals well into her 30s suggests that she is showing little sign of slowing down. There is a certain aura that surrounds the 23-time Grand Slam winner, and you can sense that her opponents often struggle with the idea of beating such a huge name in women’s sport. Of course, Williams has rarely been far from controversy in her career, with bold statements and on-court histrionics turning many against her at times, but you feel that those instances only serve to add to the enigma that is Serena.
In fact, it was at the US Open two years ago that Williams became embroiled in that now infamous spat with umpire Carlos Ramos during the final against Naomi Osaka. Williams had taken umbrage with a series of code violations imposed upon her by Ramos for apparent coaching from the stands, and later accused the umpire and powers that be of sexism.
Even if she never wins another Grand Slam title, William’s legacy as one of sport’s all-time greats will never be diminished. But even at 38 years old, there is still a sense that there is more in the tank, that a few last hurrahs are not beyond the American even at this autumnal stage of her career. The fact that she goes into the US Open as tournament favourite tells you all you need to know about Serena’s standing within her sport.