The most dominant female player of this era is Serena Williams. She owns 29 grand slam titles (14 singles, 13 doubles and two mixed doubles) and two gold medals in doubles. In 2002-03, Williams accomplished the “Serena Slam,” winning four slam tournaments in a row starting with the Roland Garros title. She is one half or of the famed Williams sisters and is noted as the most competitive one. In 2011, Serena was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (a blockage in her lung). Since her surgery, her playing style has changed a little.
Serena is an aggressive baseliner who possesses all-court skills due to her doubles experience. She has the strongest baselining arsenal in the women’s game. Her serve is arguably the best weapon in men’s or women’s tennis. Her return of serve ends points very quickly. Her forehand and backhand are the strongest in the game. She is built like a tank and as such, her footwork is not the most graceful, especially at the net. She makes up with that by being able to hit pinpoint accurate shots when she is off balance. This means that she has a good skill of turning defense into offense.
How She Wins
Serena has a tremendous will to compete that is fueled in part by the negativity of the media. It seems that whenever any media person says anything about her being past her prime, she wins another Grand Slam. In earlier times, Serena has had a very intense aura that attacks her opponents more than her serves and forehands. It was an intensity that is unmatched in the game of tennis. She was fighting. Now, though, she has been experimenting with ways to expend less energy. So holding serve has been her primary objective when entering her matches. There have been times when she faces another expressive woman and she goes back to the way she was. But most of the time the opponent’s intensity gets muffled by a well placed serve.
How She Loses
Williams’ greatest strength is also her greatest weakness. Sometimes her will to compete gets focused on someone other than her opponent. She will build up her energy, get ready to fight and then something will happen that will turn the fight to the wrong person. It could be a guy in the stands, a line judge or a chair umpire. When it happens, she is not in the match anymore and it can be disastrous. It is important to note that for some reason, most (if not all) of the bigger outbursts happen at the U.S. Open. In the 2011 U.S. Open final round, Serena had an argument with the chair umpire that she could not let go. In the 2009 U.S. Open semifinal round, Serena yelled at the line judge over a foot fault call and ended up losing the match. In 2004, she endured four bad line calls that brought about the challenge system where a player can challenge if he or she does not agree with the line call.
With the type of personality she has and her many comebacks in tennis, it is hard not to watch Serena or be affected by her in some way. She is a force of nature that reinvents herself from a hurricane to a tornado to a tsunami. Watching her evolution as a player is a wonderful thing.
Photo credit: Susan Mullane/US PRESSWIRE
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