changing of the guard in Queens (New York, that is)

As Serena Williams said in her farewell on-court interview following her loss this year in the US Open, there would be no Serena if it weren’t for her sister Venus. Tennis fans who have followed the professional tennis world for the past twenty-five years echo this sentiment. The two sisters have been prominent figures who not only set new records in the sport but also contributed to changing the evolution of women’s tennis players toward a more powerful game.

Selected Women’s Singles Champions at the US Open:

1999 – Serena Williams (17 years old)*

2000 – Venus Williams

2001 – Venus Williams, Serena Williams Runner-up

2002 – Serena Williams, Venus Williams Runner-up

2008 – Serena Williams

2011 – Samantha Stosur, Serena Williams Runner-up

2012 – Serena Williams

2013 – Serena Williams

2014 – Serena Williams

2017 – Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys Runner-up

2018 – Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams Runner-up

2019 – Bianca Andreescu, Serena Williams Runner-up

2022 – Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur Runner-up

*Serena Williams was eliminated in the third round of the 2022 US Open on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York. Williams was 24 days shy of her 41st birthday. She holds the most combined major titles with thirty-nine: 23 singles, 14 women’s doubles and 2 in mixed doubles plus four Olympic gold medals representing the United States.

Venus (l.) and Serena Williams win 1st Major Doubles

together at US Open in 1999

Carol Newsome/AFP/Getty Images

2022 US Open Women’s Doubles Runner-up Team

Caty McNally (l.) and Taylor Townsend

photo by Pete Staples/ USA

The Open this year marks, in my opinion as a tennis fan for more than fifty years, the beginning of a changing of the guard in both women and men’s tennis. New names emerged this year – names unfamiliar to the television viewers perhaps but nonetheless those we will need to learn how to pronounce, to watch for, and to embrace as they make their own places in history.

Iga Swiatek won 2022 Women’s Singles at US Open

from Poland – also won French Open in 2020 and 2022

19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won 2022 US Open (l.)

while runner-up was 23 year old Norwegian Casper Ruud

Getty Images

The US Open win for Alcaraz meant he was the youngest man ever to become #1 in the world in the ATP rankings. The year 2022 has not been a total changing of the guard in men’s tennis; Rafa Nadal won the Australian Open and the French Open, Novak Djokovic took the Wimbledon Championships. However, Roger Federer didn’t play at all in 2022, Nadal has many physical issues as well as becoming a father for the first time this fall, and Novak Djokovic has Covid vaccination problems. I do sense a shift in the winds away from the Big Three and their stranglehold on the majors in the Golden Era of men’s tennis for the first two decades of the 21st century. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Carlos said one of the greatest inspirations for him was Serena Williams. He grew up in the generation that watched the magical play of Serena. “She inspired me and a lot of players, you know,” he answered when asked what player on the WTA had inspired him.

“It’s passion, it’s power, it’s everything; she is the GOAT for me, plain and simple,” said Casper Ruud on Serena Williams.

photo of Iga in selfie with Serena at US Open

posted by Dzevad Mesic in Tennis World

“Her legacy is so big. She has shown us that it’s possible to play so good consistently for all these years and also play, and have a great business, and be a mother. She has shown us that there’s hope for that and for us.And with hard work, you can achieve really great things. So Serena is a legend of our sport for sure,” Swiatek said about Williams in a video for the WTA.

The final word belongs to Pretty, of course, who has allowed me to quote her on Serena. “Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka, and every other kid in America who picks up a racket – male or female – will do it because of Serena Williams.”

There you have it. End of story except to say Serena will always be my Queen of Queens, and it’s hard to say goodbye.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Life, Personal, photography, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to changing of the guard in Queens (New York, that is)

  1. So relieved to hear about different Queens and Kings. Getting a little fed up over here 😉 Didn’t see a single game at the Open this year but delighted with the outcomes.

    Liked by 1 person

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