By Drew Farmer
AELTC/Joel Marklund . 09 July 2016
It took her one year, but Serena Williams finally tied Steffi Graf’s open era record of 22 Grand Slam titles. Serena did it with style and flair, at the tournament in which she has had the most success, although the American tennis star has triumphed everywhere she has played.
Williams eased to victory in the women’s singles final over Angelique Kerber in straight sets 7-5, 6-3. It was a final that nearly erased the struggles of her previous three Grand Slam competitions. Still the most dominant tennis player in the women’s game, Williams fought to get over the line, and had been sitting on 21 Grand Slam titles since last year’s Wimbledon tournament victory over Garbine Muguruza.
The year hasn’t been an easy one for Williams, she has struggled with the expectations of, not only tying the record, but shattering it on her way to setting a new one. At the US Open 2015 tournament, Williams bowed out at the semi-final stage, losing to Roberta Vinci. It was a painful defeat, dropping the second and third set to the Italian after thoroughly defeating Vinci in the opening set.
Williams started 2016 with a trip to the Australian Open final, but was turned back by Kerber – her newest rival – in a thrilling back and forth affair. Williams next few months saw her withdraw from the Madrid Open due to illness before winning the Rome Master against American upstart Madison Keys.
The warm-up in Rome was expected to give Williams the motivation to win that elusive 22nd Grand Slam at Roland Garros in June. However, Muguruza had other ideas, defeating the American in straight sets.
Williams’ trip to Wimbledon, a place she had one six times prior, had many thinking her time on top of the sport was over. Yet, the American was phenomenal, being push to three set only once during the competition. Williams showed an edge and hunger that had escaped her in recent Grand Slams, as she avenged her loss to Kerber earlier this season.
Williams can now break the Grand Slam title record at August’s US Open. It is a tournament she has been accustomed to winning. The hard court competition has seen Williams win six times in New York City. Like Wimbledon, Williams could take home her seventh title, and would set the new mark of 23 Grand Slam titles.
Williams will go down as the greatest women’s tennis player of all-time. A feat that has not only seen her dictate the women’s singles game, but the doubles too. Serena and sister Venus have collected 14 doubles Grand Slams titles. In fact, Serena has won the Wimbledon single and doubles trophies in the same year on fourth occasions.
It is not often a sport has an athlete that can be so dominant. The National Basketball Association had Michael Jordan and now LeBron James. Boxing had Muhammad Ali and soccer has Lionel Messi. Tennis has Serena Williams, the best female to ever grace the sport, and one that may never be eclipsed.