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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Serena Williams, who is farther away from the finish line than she is from the middle, continues to have faith

It is quite probable that this was not in fact the conclusion. There is a good chance that there will be more tennis later on in the summer, and there may even be another big event held at that time.

The fact that Serena Williams was defeated by Harmony Tan of France in a third-set tiebreaker at Wimbledon, a tournament that she had previously won seven times, was the event that heralded the end of the Serena Williams that the world, both inside tennis and outside of it, had known.

Williams was unrivalled in her sport for the greater part of twenty years, during which she completely ruled it. She has 23 Grand Slam singles victories to her name, the most recent being the Australian Open in 2017, which she won while she was pregnant. She has also collected approximately $100 million in prize money throughout the course of her career.

She transcended the sport of tennis to become a preeminent figure in culture, influencing conversations about gender, ethnicity, and fame. She went on to have a successful career in business and to become a mother. On Tuesday, she was a player who was competing against a very unknown opponent who was almost half her age. She was attempting to gut out a win over this competition.

When people would compare Williams to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic as the best male tennis players of all time, Williams would respond by simply saying, “tennis player.” This was done to imply that she should be judged on the same level as them. Very few people disagreed with her.

Ever since Serena Williams, who is now 40 years old and ranked 1,204th in singles, fell to Naomi Osaka in the semifinals of the 2021 Australian Open and lost definitively, decisively, but still fighting with her signature mix of power, grit, and mystique, the memory of that Serena Williams has remained alive. The common belief was that if she competed in the appropriate event (for example, Wimbledon) and was dealt a favourable draw, she might reclaim her place as Serena Williams.

Regardless, she had a difficult time competing because of an Achilles tendon injury before to that competition. When she played on the sluggish, red clay at the French Open, she was defeated by Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the fourth round. This was a surface that she did not really like playing on. Since 2015, she has not been able to claim victory in Paris.

It’s possible that Serena Williams may make another appearance. On the other hand, Tuesday did not provide a lot of clues that it would. The Williams that her competitors, many of whom are far younger than she is, talk about with wonder and inspiration is now more of a notion than a real opponent.

On the other hand, Williams often seemed to be far beyond her 40 years. After winning so many points, she was so out of breath that she had to lean on her racket to regain her breath. She went on the quest for the inner assassin that she had previously called out unknowingly. When Williams played against an inferior and inexperienced opponent like Tan, he used to be so clinical. That Williams does not exist any more.

Her investment vehicle has already provided funding to sixty different businesses, some of which include an app for transferring money called Sendwave, an online school called MasterClass that teaches students about a variety of subjects, and a company that delivers food called Daily Harvest. The limited partners in the fund are comprised of some of the most well-known personalities in the tech finance industry. This year’s Academy Award for Best Actor went to Will Smith for his performance in the biopic “King Richard,” which was co-produced by Jada Pinkett Smith and was based on her father.

On Tuesday, there were recollections of the past. Williams jumped out to an early lead in the deciding set, but just minutes later, she found herself in a battle, trailing by a game despite being on serve against the 115th-ranked player in the world, a 24-year-old who had grown up watching her on television. Williams eventually prevailed in the match. After spending more than two and a half hours on the court, Williams even served for the match when the score was 5-4. The legs are responsible for serving, but Williams’ legs no longer have the force they once had. As a result of her unexpected inability to deal with Tan’s slicing strokes, she sprayed mistakes all over the court and into the net.

Two games later, when she had a match point on her serve, she came up with a great swinging forehand volley as she stormed the net to save it. This allowed her to continue playing. However, when it came time for the tiebreaker, she once again frittered away fortune by letting a 4-0 lead to turn into a 9-7 loss. At the three hours and eleven minutes mark, there was a last forehand that went into the net.

Williams packed up her luggage, waved to the audience, and then, a little while later, when she was in an interview room, she remarked that the prospect of playing in New York at the U.S. Open later in the summer, after spending some time on the practise courts, had a great deal of attraction for her. At least in her case, belief persists. The topic of retirement was not discussed at this time.

Dan O'Brien
Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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