Saturday, August 4, 2012

Of Tennis and Golden Slams

by Savannah

It started like this. Like every tennis player who has ever taken a court anywhere in the world Serena Williams walked onto Centre Court at Wimbledon alone. She was on her way to playing a woman who has created considerable buzz around herself of late, a woman who has mastered the surface that was long her nemesis. Maria Sharapova had beaten Serena on this same court in what seems a life time ago. At 17 many thought Sharapova, a player whose game was crafted around that of Venus Williams, would go on to dominate women's tennis. That didn't happen but if you say on thing about Maria Sharapova it's that she has a very strong will to win.


One could say the same thing about Serena Williams. She hit the women's Olympic tennis tournament on fire, steamrolling anyone with the misfortune of standing across the net from her. Having just won Wimbledon a few weeks ago Serena came ready to rumble, her "A" game on display. Still she had to face Sharapova, who was looking for Olympic gold in her first ever Games.

The last thing anyone thought they'd see was Maria Sharapova practically reduced to tears as Serena raced through the first set 6-0.

There is a reason that US commentators are not held in high esteem by tennis fans. Rennae Stubbs had done excellent commentary until today. Working with Mary Carillo the two talked about everything except the beatdown that was taking place in front of them. Yes it was a beatdown but WHY was it a beatdown? Experienced fans could see Serena didn't let Maria breathe and that Maria tightened up. What any fan could also see was that the windy conditions would put Sharapova at a disadvantage. When Maria serves well she can dominate, controlling when and how she moves. With the wind blowing her high ball toss around she was going to be at a disadvantage. Serena, possessor of the best serve on the tour, would be able to adjust her serve in line with the conditions. Serena also kept the ball low until she got her confidence and began hitting shots that should have been impossible in the wind. Once she exhibited that control the only question was going to be whether Serena would serve up a double bagel.

In the end Sharapova won one game.


You can argue about GOATS and the dominance of players gone by but those were different times. Today's women are not out of shape. The top players are physically head and shoulders above their predecessors. There is only one player who, when she is on, can dominate both mentally and physically. Maria did move Serena around a bit but Serena made her move more, and not when it was advantageous for Maria. There were double faults galore coming off of Maria's racquet as well, something she hasn't done much of lately. There were also images of Maria struggling to control the power coming off of Serena's racquet.


Steffi Graf did it: 1987 French Open, 1988 Australian Open, 1988 Wimbledon Championships, 1988 Olympic gold medal, & 1988 US Open adding a Calendar Year Golden Slam by winning her second consecutive French Open in 1988

Andre Agassi did it:1992 Wimbledon, 1994 US Open, 1995 Australian Open, 1996 Olympic gold medal, & 1999 French Open

Rafael Nadal did it: 2005 French Open, 2008 Wimbledon, 2008 Olympic gold medal, 2009 Australian Open, & 2010 US Open

Joining their ranks is Serena Williams: 1999 US Open, 2002 French Open, 2002 Wimbledon, 2003 Australian Open, & 2012 Olympic gold medal

And lets not forget that with her sister Venus Serena has accomplished the Golden Slam in doubles: 1999 French Open, 1999 US Open, 2000 Wimbledon, 2000 Olympic gold medal, & 2001 Australian Open

Serena Williams has had a golden career, one that is the envy of many. She can now add Golden with a capital "G" to her resume.

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