Tag Archives: Margaret Court

Serena Williams Wimbledon Triumph Puts Her One Step Closer to Tennis Grand-Slam

12 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Serena Williams Wins her sixth Wimbledon singles title and her 21st overall. Footage courtesy of ESPN.

Serena Williams Wins her sixth Wimbledon singles title and her 21st overall. Footage courtesy of ESPN. Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA—Serena Williams didn’t play her best match against Garbine Muguruza in the Ladies Singles Final at Wimbledon. She lost the first two games of the first set, had eight double faults and withstood the storm of tumultuous rally by her Spanish opponent.

Throughout the fortnight at Wimbledon, Williams has overcome losing the first set in matches and even survived an opponent’s match point in the quarterfinals. But fighting through those obstacles further magnified her legend as one of the greatest tennis players of all-time—man or woman.

In the end, Williams was the only one left standing and came away with a 6-4, 6-4 win over the game 21-year-old Muguruza. The win puts Williams one step closer to the calendar year Grand-Slam. It was her sixth singles titles at Wimbledon. At 33-years-old, Williams is the oldest winner of a Grand-Slam title and has 28 Grand-Slam matches in a row.

If she wins the U.S. Open in September, Williams will be the first single-season Grand-Slam winner since Steffi Graf did it in 1988. For the second time in her career, the 33-year-old Williams holds all four Grand-Slam titles at once. The last time she did it was back in 2002-2003. This latest run on Grand Slam titles dates back to September when she won the 2014 U.S. Open.

Williams latest Grand-Slam singles title pushed her career total to 21, one behind Graf, who has 22 (the most in the Open era) and three behind Margaret Court, who has 24.

Somehow for all the attention that was focused on a lackluster fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, LeBron James quest to take an average Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, and the recent triumph of the U.S. Women’s soccer team at the World Cup, Williams quest to win the Grand Slam has seemingly been on the periphery of events.

Maybe it’s because Williams has been such a dominant force in tennis that it’s become routine and so boring that some may feel she’s winning too much. After all, she doesn’t have a main rival that Martina Navaratilova had in Chris Evert.

The closest thing to a rivalry for Williams has been her sister Venus and Maria Sharapova, whom she’s beaten 18 straight times. All Williams does is beat whoever they put in front of her.

To be honest, I think if Williams was a slender blond, white American woman with all her accomplishments, she would be a media darling and the whole country would be following her quest for tennis immortality in the same way the country embraced the U.S. women’s soccer team at the World Cup.

On social media and even in the mainstream media the focus has been on whether or not her body is too masculine. Williams’ body type clashes with classic notions of Western beauty and she often gets her share of vilification for it.

Maybe that’s an explanation for why Sharapova makes more money in commercial endorsements off the tennis court than Williams. She’s an assertive Black woman who is comfortable with herself and is not the self-effacing “mammy” type who goes out of her way to seek the acceptance of white people.

Whether folks like it or not, Williams is the greatest tennis player of her generation and arguably the greatest of all time. She’s got the trophies to prove it.

If you’re eyes aren’t focused on Williams now, they should be now because she is on the verge of accomplishing a rare feat in sports that’s only been accomplished just three times in the last 46 years-and just once by the men.

What will make Williams run to history compelling is that it won’t be easy, especially considering some of the tough matches she’s had at Wimbledon and the French Open. Williams has perilously come close to losing matches the closer she gets to pulling off a major milestone.

At this year’s French Open, Williams was involved in three-set matches five times, four came after she lost the first set.

In the third round at Wimbledon this year, Britain’s Heather Watson won the first three games of the third set, was up 5-4, and had Williams at match point. The young Brit was on the verge of a historic upset. But a fired-up Williams stormed back to win the last three games to close out the match.

Then Serena had to take on her sister Venus in a tough emotional match in the round of 16. In the quarterfinal against Victoria Azarenka, Williams dropped the first set and came back to win the next two sets.

And so the stage for the 2015 U.S. Open is set, Serena will be battling to add another chapter to her legend as one of the greatest-if not the greatest tennis players of all time.

So grab your popcorn and your favorite beverage, but please leave your racism and sexism outside and enjoy Williams’ quest for tennis immortality.

Advertisements

Forty Years After Arthur Ashe’s Milestone Win at Wimbledon, Serena Williams Looks to Add to Her Legacy

25 Jun

By Chris Murray

Serena Williams is halfway to tennis's Grand Slam.  She renews her chase for immortality at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams is halfway to tennis’s Grand Slam. She renews her chase for immortality at Wimbledon.

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—This year’s Wimbledon Championships will spotlight the both the 40th anniversary of a significant milestone in the tournament’s history and a player’s attempt to achieve a rare feat in the history of tennis.
In 1975, Arthur Ashe became the first African-American male tennis player to win a professional singles title when he came away with a four-set victory over Jimmy Connors, at that time the world’s No. 1 player. It was a crowning achievement for Ashe, who went on to become as recognized for his leadership in the movement to end apartheid in South Africa, and his advocacy for more research dollars for HIV/AIDS research.

Arthur Ashe was the first Black male tennis player to win a Wimbledon singles title.

Arthur Ashe was the first Black male tennis player to win a Wimbledon singles title.

Now, 40 years after Ashe’s triumphant, color-line breaking win at Wimbledon, another African-American tennis player, Serena Williams, is looking to accomplish a rare feat that would make her one of the greatest female tennis players of all-time without question.
Williams is trying to become first tennis player since Steffi Graff to win the game’s Grand Slam– the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open—in a single season. So far, she’s won the Australian and the French. Because she ended 2014 with a win at the U.S. Open, a win at Wimbledon would give Williams a calendar year Grand-Slam.

But while winning a calendar year Grand Slam may take doing, winning a single season Grand Slam is a lot easier said than done, even for someone with Williams’s talent. To give some perspective on how difficult a task she faces, you need only look at the numbers.

Since the start of the Open Era in 1968, only three people have ever won it. Australian Rod Laver, who won all four events in 1969, is the last male tennis player to accomplish the feat. Considering that a whole raft of tennis greats such as Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have all stints where they were the most dominant players in the sport, and yet none of them was able to do it, that’s significant.

On the women’s side, Margaret Court was the first to do it in 1970. It took another 18 years before Steffi Graf won the Grand Slam and no one else has done it since. Jennifer Capriati came close, winning the Australian and French Opens in 2001, but by winning Wimbledon that year, Venus Williams stopped her from accomplishing the milestone.

Right now, no one in the world is playing better than Serena Williams and that’s why some tennis experts believe that the Grand Slam is within her grasp. In an article on Wimbledon.com, former women’s tennis star and ESPN tennis analyst Chris Evert said she likes Williams’ chances to pull it off.

“When she is at her best she is better than anybody,” Evert said. “She’s got a great shot. To me her game is better suited to the grass courts than it is to the clay… But her game, just because of her serve, she’s going to get free aces. … It should be one of the easier Grand Slams for her.”

Williams would probably tell you herself that it’s not going to be easy at all. Even though she came away victorious in Paris, Williams had a tough time at Roland Garros, battling the flu and opponents Timea Bacsinszky and Lucie Safarova.

Still, despite looking like she was ready to pass out, using cold compresses during the changeovers, and guzzling water to stay hydrated, Williams managed to win the French Open and serve notice that she’s better than much of the women’s draw even when she’s sick.

With the win at the French, Williams has won 20 major singles, two away from Steffi Graff (22) and four away from Margaret Court who has 24. She has won 21 straight matches and is on the verge of making history as the fortnight at Wimbledon begins.
Like Arthur Ashe, Serena Williams learned how to play tennis on public courts in the inner city.

When he won the All-England title 40 years ago, Ashe made history.

Williams manages to get one step closer to winning the Grand Slam by winning the Wimbledon title, she stands a chance of making history as well.

And somewhere, Arthur Ashe will be smiling.