“Really, I am unique.” In 2008, in an interview with CNN, Serena Williams defined herself. It could be read as a form of arrogance, but it was simply clarity of thought, without false modesty. Just as when later in the same interview she claimed:
She is right. She is unique. That was true in 2008 and maybe even more so today. Her game, in the landscape of women’s tennis, remains unique. Her journey. Her longevity. Her character. There has only ever been one Serena Williams and there will never be another.
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Is she the greatest player in the history of women’s tennis? The greatest champion across the sport? The debate is without end, and a case can be made for [Roger] Federer, [Rafael] Nadal and [Novak] Djokovic in that debate. But really for each, one must judge them according to your own sensibilities, tastes, preferences and criteria.
Williams has struggled for the last four years to win her 24th Grand Slam, the record of victories held by Margaret Court. Is she greater than Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who took women’s tennis to the peak of its popularity? Better than Steffi Graf? Than Billie Jean King? Everyone has their opinion, but nobody can claim to know the definitive answer. The case for Serena is strong.
In terms of her approach to the game, she brought a revolution. The first time we heard of her was from the mouth of her sister, Venus, 15 months her senior. At the age of 16, Venus emerged on the circuit. She was going to be excellent, that was obvious. But Venus warned: “My little sister, Serena, she is going to be on the circuit soon, and she’s even better than me.” She didn’t lie.
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Serena was not yet 18 when she won her first Grand Slam, the US Open, in 1999. In the final against Martina Hingis, Williams showed that the tennis of the 21st Century had arrived. It was not a question of taste, it was something else. It was Serena. Two decades later nobody has surpassed her. That’s just how far ahead of her time she was.
Williams won her first Grand Slam as a teenager and won her most recent Grand Slam at the start of her pregnancy. From a young woman to the mother of a family, we have seen this teenager grow up: the budding youngster and the elder stateswoman. The most impressive thing is that her passion remains intact as she approaches 40, for the game and for competition.
From the outset, the Williams sisters brought a real freshness, but for many, they wouldn’t last. Too marketed, two robotic, inculcated by a father, Richard, obsessed by the success of his children and wanting to see them get to the peak of their game. That was his dream, some thought, more than it was theirs. At 40 and 39 years old, they are still here. For Serena in particular, she has been written off too many times, and has always come back.
Her status as a great champion is unquestionable, she already holds a place of huge importance in her time. But it’s not just that for her. She’s a personality, a star, having largely transcended her sport. More than a prize list, it’s a story. She’s a chance from Compton, a suburb south of Los Angeles, deprived, poor and crime-ridden, baptised in the 80s as the American capital of crime. It was there that she hit a ball for the first time aged four, on terrain unworthy of her name,
To get his family out of this environment, Richard Williams took them to Florida. After poverty, Serena discovered racism. Williams Snr took them off the official youth circuit to protect his children from insults. More than the anger or bitterness, Serena retained her taste for the fight, a phenomenal will and with the strength of her own convictions to boycott Indian Wells for 15 years.
“If I am different,” she said in 2008, “It’s because my life has been hard, above all at the start.” Even with glory and riches, her life would not always be a bed of roses. In the 25 years of her career, she has known many health setbacks, some so serious that some believed she had lost her chance of playing at the highest level of sport in 2011 after a pulmonary embolism. There were family tragedies, such as the murder of her half-sister Yetunde in 2003. She has known many lows.
She can annoy, Serena. She is sometimes irritating. She can slip up, even, on the courts. She’s not a saint but she is unique.
Leylah Fernandez: Fans chanting my name at Indian Wells Masters felt surreal
US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez admitted that hearing fans chant her name at the Indian Wells Masters felt “surreal.” On Friday, Fernandez played her first match since her outstanding US Open campaign and fans in the stands chanted her name.
Fernandez, who is now enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 28 in the world, saw off Alize Cornet 6-2 6-3 to progress into the Indian Wells third round. “It’s surreal. You dream of that happening, but you don’t expect that to happen …
I got goosebumps. Like, even now, my Heart suit is beating so fast … I was so happy,” Fernandez said, per Mark Masters. Fernandez was asked on what did she work after the US Open. “Everything (laughs) … We always try to look for that extra inch, extra millimetre to be better …
We worked on everything,” Fernandez claimed.
Fernandez was thrilled to meet Maria Sharapova
“I was lucky enough to to meet Maria Sharapova at the Met (Gala). We kind of chatted a little bit and she gave me some pretty good advice.
She told me her own experience and the way that she was able to bounce back,” Fernandez revealed. Meanwhile, 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek shared advice for Fernandez and US Open champion Emma Raducanu. “Well I would say balancing all the things you have to do on-court and all the things that [you’ve] been doing for the past years with all that new stuff,” Swiatek explained.
“Because it can overwhelm [you] at the beginning. It was good for me that Roland Garros was the last tournament of the season. I know that [Fernandez and Raducanu] probably have one or two more. “Then they’re going to have a break and they’re going to have time to reflect on [their success].
“Also having the people around you who won’t be pushing you to do more because of public relations or publicity. Just you know maybe staying calm a little bit and waiting for how you will react to all of that.”
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Martina Hingis Used Me! Says Ex Husband to Le Journal du Dimanche
Martina Hingis is happily back to tennis life. After leaving the circuit, she got back to living it. Just in doubles though, and some random single’s appearances in Fed Cup, just to show that despite the years and rust, she still is one of the greatest talents ever witnessed in women’s tennis.
As great as she is on court, Martina over the years has draw attention on her personal life far more than she ought to, with troubled relationships. Now, her former marriage is back on the news, with Martina’s ex husband Thibault Hutin taking on French Le Journal du Dimanche, to reveal that first of all the couple is legally still bonded and secondly that Swiss champion has used him over the years they have been together.
Hingis and Hutin got married in 2010, and while according to the media the Swiss is divorced, legally it appears the couple is yet to tear apart. In 2013 Thibault sued Martina for harassment. Their divorce is yet to be made official, and that hurts Hutin, as reported by JDC.
“My life is trash. I mistakenly left riding to preserve our marriage. I left my passion, there is nothing left. Without my family, I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent” confessed Thibault. When the couple met, Martina had just gotten back from a two-year suspension for cocaine abuse, thus she was quite fragile and not well seen by the media.
“Martina asked me to do interviews with her. Someone told me about her problems briefly, I didn’t know anything about it. Back than things were still tense. She wasn’t allowed to go to tournaments. She needed to rebuild an image.
The marriage with a good Frenchman was perfect at that time. She used me. Thinking about it now it seems obvious”. After more trouble, that including a surprising visit from Hutin to Hingis in New York that didn’t go well, the two separated in 2013.