Now her rivals and admirers from men’s tennis see her as the unmatched queen of the sport and a clear favorite at the US Open.
“It’s incredible. Nobody knows where she is going to stop and she keeps on going and dominating,” said defending US Open men’s champion Novak Djokovic.
“I’m happy I’m in men’s tennis — not needing to face her.”
“She has had some issues. That makes the return to the top of the rankings and the top of her game even more exciting,” said World No 1 Roger Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion.
Williams won last month’s Wimbledon title, her first Grand Slam crown since her health issues arose after a 2010 Wimbledon title, and followed up by taking the London Olympic gold medal on the same All-England Club grass courts.
“It has been great what she has done over the last 15-plus years but it’s an amazing summer for her. She played great. If she’s on she’s very hard to beat.
“I think she just proved that point again. What we have seen over the last few months is the best player ever,” said Kim Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam champion set to retire after the US Open. But it was a rise from the lowest of depths.
Williams needed 18 stitches and surgery after stepping on broken glass in a Munich restaurant in a celebration of her 2010 Wimbledon triumph.
Then she suffered life-threatening blood clots on her lungs and thought her time at the top was over, making her comeback to win at Wimbledon even more astounding and her favored status at Flushing Meadows a certainty.
Serena begins her US Open campaign against compatriot Coco Vandeweghe today.