Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Serena + history + opponents + time =

Another French Open, another major that concludes with Serena Williams holding flatware. (Did anyone see the way she was waving that second-place plate, like she was asking around her house about who wanted seconds?)
Many reasons have been offered up for reasons Serena has yet to snatch that 22nd Slam title, tying her all-time with Steffi Graf. Among them: Drake, Roberta Vinci, hidden injuries, the shoes, the hair, et al. In my most desperate times, I attend the school of thought that many others are trending toward: nerves. The older she gets, she might be thinking, the fewer chances she'll have, right?
In fact, I believe there is another reason Serena Williams isn't getting over the hump these days -- because winning majors is hard? Crazy thought, but stay with me.
There aren't a lot of women who have won as many Slams as Serena does right now. There are two who have won more than her: Margaret Court and Graf. Court has 24, and didn't win a major between 1966 and 1968, because she had retired. When she came back, she lost in a Wimbledon final in 1969 WHILE SHE WAS PREGNANT, had her baby, and then won all four slams the next calendar year. Then she didn't win any majors between early 1971 and 1972. In 1973, she won three of the four majors.
Graf won the Golden Slam in 1988 and after she won the Australian Open in 1990, she didn't win another major until Wimbledon in 1991. After she won the U.S. Open in 1996, she didn't even advance to a semifinal in a major in the following year -- she took time off to have knee surgery, But in 1999, she won the French Open, her last slam.
And then there's Serena Williams, who is stuck at 21 majors and everyone is naturally losing their minds. There is one thing about Serena's quest that makes it more difficult than what Graf and Court did. She'll be 35 in September. Graf was done with tennis when she was 30. Court was 33, although her Slam-snagging was over at 31.
I guess what I'm saying is that everyone needs to settle down about Serena Williams.

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