Tennis star Serena Williams has nothing left to prove. Serena has sealed her name in the history books as the greatest women’s tennis player, whether or not she wins her 22nd major this US Open.
Winning this record, held by Steffi Graf, or winning the calendar Grand Slam (Steffi Graf was also the last player, man or woman, to win all four Grand Slams in the same season 27 years ago), would just be the icing on the cake. Even in this age, when there’s an absolute assembly line of new players coming up the ranks at an astonishing speed, Serena will leave a noticeable void when she exits.
For those who rue the demise of the touch game, today’s players have brought in a boom-boom era where big serves and strong nerves are what it takes to win games. Nobody embodies this more than Serena. Her sheer physicality and power have raised the bar so many notches high in women’s tennis that today’s women have no choice but to get incredibly strong to be able to even stay on court with somebody like Serena. The athleticism in the game is at so many rungs higher than it ever was; fitness levels are incredible. The Olympic motto of faster, higher and stronger applies to the tennis court more than ever, thanks to the standards set by players like Serena.
The fact that so many former players male or female call her the greatest ever they have seen on court, there seems to be some kind of consensus on Serena being in a different league altogether.
Then, consider that tennis followers routinely talk about how Serena should compete with the men. This is actually not said in jest, it is sometimes serious discussion and debate. Though this will not happen, that people talk about it is indicative of just how far ahead Serena is.
Serena has already earned the greatest label, numbers, statistics — her legacy when she quits and the current standard she brings to the game attest to that. Another Grand Slam crown, or not, will not change that.
Another Serena win? We have stopped counting.