Serena Williams

Serena Williams at the US Open? Well, it’s complicated

The 23-time Grand Slam winner appears to be preparing his tennis swan song at a venue that has featured some of the most memorable moments of his career.

A quarter of a century ago, Serena Williams entered tennis grand and majestic and unimpeded. Now, after years of grim speculation, we have a feeling how it will all end. Somehow maybe. Barring the unlikely – a caveat that should always be there with Serena – she will end her undefeated career in New York at the 2022 US Open.

For any athlete, knowing when to say no is a painful exercise. In an individual sport, where there is no contract to play, no management to choose for you, more than that. And for individual athletes who travel at a track and don’t have a home or home field, there’s also the matter of where to say when. In this case, Serena, four weeks after turning 41, has chosen to pull out her stringed instrument and play her last beautiful notes in a venue that spans her operatic career.

In some ways, it couldn’t be more fitting. The US Open is not only Serena’s home Grand Slam, but also marks her debut, where she will win the first of 23 matches. He has won a total of six New York titles and won more tournaments here (106 this week) at the venue named after Billie Jean King.

However, the US Open has also been where we charitably call Serena’s most challenging moments. There have been bitter failures. There were moments when he was wronged. There were moments when he was wrong. Serena’s relationship with her country’s most important tournament is a Janus face, a mood swing. His status update might read: Complicated.

Remarkably, it has been two decades since Serena made her US Open debut. While tennis courts are, of course, necessarily flat, his experience on the US Open has been bumpy and full of definite highs and lows. A quick look down memory lane:

US Open: How to watch Serena, other first-round matches


Synopsis: A year earlier, Serena’s older sister Venus had reached the US Open final, a match punctuated by fearless tennis, but perhaps best remembered for what happened to Romania’s Irina Spirlia, who predicted a little that the Williams sisters. The fall of the party will face ugly resistance in some areas. In her New York debut, the 16-year-old Serena won her first two matches and showed off her precocious power. And who did he meet in the third round? Spirilia. Serena lost in three sets but realized (at 110 mph) that she was already a great player.


Venice Williams was, in many eyes, the US Open winner and Williams’ holy home. Right prediction, wrong sister. In the last tennis tournament of the 20th century, 17-year-old Serena won the title. And the emphasis was on winning, as she defeated the top players in straight sets (and three sets) — Kim Clijsters, Conchita Martinez, Monica Sells and Lindsey Davenport, all Hall of Famers. In the final, Serena defeated top-seeded Martina Hingis to pocket $750,000 and a dynasty began.


The Williams family’s hold over tennis was so comprehensive that the US Open moved the women’s title to a night session, drawing a larger television audience. Both sisters confirmed this decision by reaching the finals. Before taking a 3-1 lead in Grand Slam titles, Venus beat Serena in straight sets, a less competitive matchup than Tableau admits — two sisters who grew up in the same Compton household, as a playboy. Going back and forth. Tennis rally. He gave permission. This is the most prominent story in sports.


More comfortable with the idea that the birth order could be reversed and the older sister defeated by the younger sister without costing the relationship, Serena triumphed over Venus, this time one more time. In a family matter. It was her third in a row and suddenly she and her sister had won four Slam titles each.


Playing what she could for an opponent (Jennifer Capriati) in the quarterfinals, Serena hit a series of shots that landed on or in the fairway but missed the mark. Whether it was a disqualification or something worse (as many suggested), these missed calls loomed large as Capritti won 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. These errors lead to massive tennis for immediate replays. While it came at Serena’s expense, you could say she played a major role in bringing tennis up to speed.


Returning from the Olympics, Serena was in top form, winning her third US Open title by defeating Venice in the quarterfinals and then Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic in the final.


A decade after her breakthrough, Serena, who had previously wowed crowds by wearing cowboy boots on court for the opening matches, met Clusters in the semifinals to defend her title. Clijsters, back from maternity leave, played as usual and drew a crowd inspired by her history.

Late in the tough match, Serena was called for a foot problem. He turned to the line judge who was making the call, and the court’s microphone caught him threatening the official. “I swear to God I’ll take the ball and throw it down your throat.” When the linesman reported the threat to the chair umpire, Serena denied saying anything inappropriate. (“I didn’t say I’d kill you! Are you serious?”) He did, and he did. The explosion resulted in a penalty point and thus the match was lost. Williams was later fined $175,000 and placed on probation for two years.


Returning to the US Open for the first time since her infamous 2009 exit, Serena reached the final. There he met the Australian Sam Stosur. In retrospect, it’s a match Serena wishes she could have back. He gave a surprisingly empty performance, one of which led to another controversy. After being called for “interference” during one point, Serena argued with chair umpire Eva Asdraki: “You ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way. Because you’re out of control. You’re out – completely out of control.” the outside. You hate and are unhappy from the inside. Serena lost 6-2, 6-3.


Fresh off a Wimbledon title and an Olympic gold medal, playing perhaps the highest tennis of her career — which is certainly saying something — Serena won seven matches in one of two ways: She was either unplayable and her opponents wild, or she showed her steely will. gave And he refused to leave the court except as a victor. Such was the case in the final, when she tricked the defense into matching her volley and defeated Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.


Another US Open, another vintage Serena show, another determined Azarenka defeat in the final, 7-5, 6-7, 6-1.


For the only time in her career, Serena triples in a Grand Slam, winning her third (and possibly last) final against close friend Caroline Wozniacki. His prize money and reward for his best hard court season this year? More than $3.95 million, nearly five times her first title — a testament to the sport’s growth from the Williams sisters’ allure and leverage.


In perhaps the most dominant year of her career, Serena came to New York and won the first three rounds of the Calendar Slam, attempting to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to achieve the ultimate tennis feat. In the quarterfinals, she defeated Venus in a match that was less a tennis match than a sold-out celebration for two trailblazing sisters. Serena won in three sets. (It was hard to imagine Venus stopping her sister’s run on history.) With that, the stage seemed set. Plans were afoot to celebrate… but Serena missed the occasion against 43rd-ranked Roberta Vinci of Italy. Despite the home crowd rooting for her to win, Serena was unable to match her usual game or mental reserves and fell 6-2, 4-6, 4-6.


At her first US Open as a mother, Serena complemented her favorite state with her favorite emotional state. In the final, she faced Naomi Osaka, who is still one of a large group of players who cite Serena as their tennis inspiration. However, it was Serena who showed more nerve. After a series of fouls that included a coaching foul and a broken racket, Serena was awarded a point by chair umpire Carlos Ramos, and the tennis match became an international affair. For some, the wave of racism and sexism was undeniable. To others, Serena was being punished for a crime she had committed. For all the polarization and hot takes, neither side showed their glory that day – except for Osaka, who won her first major 6-2, 6-4.


Having won six matches and two sets away from her longtime goal of equaling Margaret Court’s record of 24 major matches, Serena once again faced a young opponent in the final who had never been in such a position. In a drama-free but relatively low-intensity match, Serena was beaten 6–3, 7–5 by Canadian Bianca Andreescu, half her age, a few weeks before her 38th birthday.

And now we have reached the year 2022.

As much as anyone underestimates Serena Williams at her peril — a recurring theme throughout her career — it’s hard to imagine her competing for the title. He won exactly one game last year. And a combination of injuries and outside pursuits has kept him from fully devoting himself to tennis. Anyway, rightfully so, this would be a great romance for Serena. Even if he can create a few matches for the memory banks and provide a glimpse of the magic of the past, a combination of strength, precision, strategy and will.

Serena Williams is a unique athlete. He is also perhaps the most complex athlete of all time. In that sense, it’s only fitting that he ends his illustrious career—the game, the series, the match—in a place filled with personal spirits and many personal triumphs.

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