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
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.