By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
If you want to see someone attempt to accomplish a pretty major athletic milestone, might I suggest that you walk away from that National Football League preseason game and focus your attention on Flushing Meadows, New York?
You see, Serena Williams will be on the court attempting to make history, and you don’t want to miss it.
With the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon titles already in hand, Williams has her sights set on becoming the first tennis player since Steffi Graf to win all four of tennis’s Grand Slam titles in the same season by winning the U.S. Open. She’s already made history this year by being the oldest female tennis player to win a Grand Slam event at the ripe “old” age of 33.
Suffice it to say, Williams is looking forward to coming to New York and the adventure of adding another chapter to her brilliant legacy as the one of the best women’s tennis players of all-time.
“Yeah, I’m ready. I don’t care if I win or lose or break even,” she said. “I’m ready to start it, get it over with, and be done and go on to the next event. But I’m so ready for New York. Let’s go, right?”
Dating back to the 2014 U.S. Open, Williams has won the last four Grand-Slam events. If she does win the U.S. Open, it will be her 22nd major title, which would tie her with Graf for the most major titles since the Open Era began in 1968. Margaret Court holds the all-time record for Grand Slam titles with 24.
Williams will be getting everybody’s best shot as she has during her last three Grand Slam events. In the third round at Wimbledon, Britain’s Heather Watson had her at match point in the third set, but Williams rallied to win. In the quarterfinals, Williams dropped the first set against Victoria Azarenka, but then came back to win the next two sets.
At the Rogers Cup in Toronto earlier this month, Williams suffered her second loss of 2015 against Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic in the semifinals of that tournament. She had won 14 matches in a row before that match.
But as is her fashion, Williams bounced back from that defeat two weeks later to win the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, a key U.S. Open tune-up. While the pressure to win the U.S. Open is especially intense with the Grand Slam on the line, it’s something Williams embraces.
“I’ve decided I prefer to have that pressure than the pressure of not winning,” Williams said. “Not everyone can handle that pressure, but I’m okay with it. I would rather be to this position than another one.”
Throughout all her Grand-Slam matches, Williams has been dominant at times and quite vulnerable at others. She seems to have developed an ability to focus even harder when she is staring defeat in the face.
Williams reminds me of some of those great boxers who seem to find a deeper resolve once they’ve been hit or knocked down. Cats like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and others who seem to be at their best when things look the worse.
“Yeah, in the end it’s pretty tough to play against Serena. She’s more motivated I think,” said Simona Halep, who lost to Williams in the finals of Western and Southern Tournament. “More focused and into the tournament. Yeah, she feels the game and she feels everything and she gets more stronger.”
Williams’ run to the Grand Slam hasn’t been easy, which is why it’s been so interesting to watch. Williams’ matches have probably had more twists and turns than an episode of “Scandal”. To tell you the truth, I don’t think Shonda Rhimes could craft a script with this many twists and turns in it.
No matter how she gets it done, Williams has developed a mentality made famous by late Oakland Raiders Al Davis… Just win baby.
‘It’s all up to me. If I decide to play right, it’ll be great,” she said.