Name: Serena Williams
American Professional Tennis Player
Accolades: 23 Grand Slam singles titles
Career Record: 801-136
Strengths: great forehand, fluid service motion and good baseline player
Weaknesses: Not in shape and slow on the run to the net
The internet swells with praise for the raw athleticism and pure dominating hold Serena Williams has on women’s tennis.
Former professional tennis player Patrick McEnroe said, “she’s the greatest tennis player of all time.”
Ben Owen, Sports Editor for The Wesleyan Argus, the undergraduate newspaper of Wesleyan University, said Serena has been immortalized as the greatest already but she still has more left.
“Serena is special,” Owen said. “She is still electric. These great players [Tom Brady or Barry Bonds] finally earn these titles as they near or pass the age of 40; while Serena…is just 36 and still plays with visible tenacity. In less than a year, with just two more Grand Slam singles victories, Serena could be the greatest women’s tennis player ever.”
Greatest. Women’s. Tennis Player. EVER.
Not just of her time or of her generation but, Serena Williams, the greatest of ALL TIME.
Her player profile listed above reiterates her success from a statistical perspective. Currently, she also sits one Grand Slam victory away from tying Margaret Court for the most women’s singles Grand Slam championships in history. At 37 years old, Williams sits in the prime position to claim the pinnacle position in women’s tennis.
However, greatest of all time does not just appear from thin air. Williams’ pure athleticism and insane forehand alone did not win her 23 Grand Slam titles. What one trait sets Williams apart, taking her from just another great tennis player to greatest of all time?
Merriam-Webster defines resilience as, “an ability to recover or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”
Throughout her entire life, Williams continually fights and recovers from unfortunate and difficult situations. Time and time again, she meets misfortune head on, battles it and wins another title.
Born Serena Jameka Williams, she started playing tennis at the age of three in Compton, Calif. Then, her father removed her from national tournaments at the age of 10 so she could “go slowly, work on school work and be a little girl.” Williams’ father also wanted to spare her from racial taunts being hurled at her during competitions.
Nevertheless, Williams rose to limelight because of her raw athleticism and great skill, strengthening her core trait of resilience.
Throughout her professional career, Williams suffered from multiple injuries, but each time she overcame and returned as good, if not better, than before. Her resilience shining ever prevalently each time she recovered, returned and won more titles.
Williams experienced personal heartache when her older half-sister Yetunde Price was murdered during a rival gang shooting in Compton, Calif. in 2003. Instead of grieving and forgetting, Williams and her sister Venus Williams opened a community center in Compton called the Yetunde Price Resource Center for victims of violence and their families. She took a terrible situation and gave back, her resilience making a bright impact.
Most recently, Williams gave birth to a daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on Sept. 1, 2017. Yet, complications in Williams health arose quickly after she gave birth to her daughter.
Rob Haskell, a writer for Vogue, said, “Though she had an enviably easy pregnancy, what followed was the greatest medical ordeal of a life that has been punctuated by them.”
During Williams post-operation recovery from a C-section delivery, the doctors discovered small blood clots in her lungs. Then, her surgery incision popped open due to the force of her coughing. While repairing the wound, doctors found a hematoma had flooded her abdomen due to a “medical catch-22 in which the potentially lifesaving blood thinner caused hemorrhaging at the site of her C-section.”
Six months after the medical ordeal, on March 8, 2018, Williams returned to full-blown competition, her most recent tournament appearance being the U.S. Open from August 27 to Sept. 9.
Blood clots cannot win against the resilience of Serena Williams.
Although she lost the U.S. Open title, she fought with a passion and tenacity only Williams can muster. Did she yell at the umpires? Yes. Then, she apologized. She admitted she got out-played and she utilized her blunder to call attention to greater social issues.
Serena Williams exemplifies resilience.
This post is one part of a blog written for Dr. Philip Patterson’s Feature Writing class.