Commentary: Play on Serena! … Play On for Your Legion of Fans

With another Grand Slam banked, is Serena Williams running out of things to achieve?

Posted: 09/09/2013 10:14 AM EDT

She is US Open champion again.

Yes, Serena Williams won the most coveted women’s title on U.S. soil — again. The youngest Williams sister powered her way Sunday afternoon to a 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 championship on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows, a championship she has now won five times.

It was a breezy Sunday that might have befitted sailors, a Sunday that surely should have been set aside for anything else but championship tennis.

On a Sunday like this one, who expected the greatest match ever?

No one did, so nobody should have been disappointed in what they saw on Arthur Ashe Stadium. For what they saw were the two best players on the women’s circuit — Williams and Victoria Azarenka — using pluck and grit, sweat and fortitude to will themselves onward.

With tennis balls flying every which way, Williams and Azarenka displayed more frustration than brilliance, although there was plenty of the latter to enjoy as well. By the end of the second set, Azarenka held the momentum; she looked as if the 2013 championship would be hers.

If she thought so, Azarenka guessed wrong. She misread the emotion in Williams, emotion that boiled over into screaming and racquet-bashing. What all this public display of frustration did was settle Williams down, and she proved she was hardly down and out of luck.

“So I thought — you know what? — I just have to relax, calm down and play smarter tennis,” Williams said afterward.

She did just that, too. Williams, the world No. 1., showed what everybody should have known already: She is the player of her generation. With 17 Grand Slam singles titles, Williams, soon-to-be 32, is now chasing Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, both holding one more Slam title than Williams.

She should catch them. Unless her game starts to fray at the seams, Williams should end her tennis career with at least 20 Slams. She might even have her sights on Graf’s 22 Slams, second highest all-time among women’s players.

Yet you have to ask, with all her success, are championships what Serena Williams is all about. Having banked $50 million in tour earnings, Williams is wealthy beyond her dreams and she has a public profile that will keep her a celebrity deep into old age. Is there anything else a woman (or a man) whose place in tennis history is reserved needs to achieve?

For fans of women’s tennis, they hope there is. They hope Williams, a powerful, agile and athletic player, has more to play for — more than just passing Navratilova and Evert or making more millions.

They hope Serena Williams can play on for them. They hope she can give them more of what no other women’s tennis player ever has: unshakeable resolve and overpowering brilliance.

 

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 (Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

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