In the world of sports, athletes careers are short and their time at the top of their sport even shorter. It seems in almost every sport we’ve seen the top athlete in the sport dethroned by a younger player. In basketball, LeBron James was the consensus best player, but now some say that title belongs to Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors who is on the verge of winning back to back titles. In football, Tom Brady was considered the standard barrier in terms of NFL quarterbacks. But after this past season in which he won the NFL MVP, some say Cam Newton is now the best quarterback. But in the world of tennis, the top two players remain Serena Williams and for the men it’s Novak Djokovac.
What makes Serena’s ability to remain at the summit of tennis more remarkable is that she’s doing this at the age of 34. At this age athletes are normally in the twilight of their careers and are far past their prime. In 2015 Serena Williams almost completed the calendar grand slam. She won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon but lost in the semifinals of the US Open to Roberta Vinci in three sets. Despite feeling disappointed that she didn’t win the calendar Grand Slam, 2015 was without a doubt one of Serena’s best years especially when you factor her age. By comparison, although they played in different eras, Martina Navratilova who some say is the greatest female player of all-time won just one singles grand slam title since turning 33 years old.
Last year she was the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the year, an award that is normally awarded to male athletes. In fact Serena became just the third solo female athlete to win this award.
By Serena’s standards the beginning of 2016 got off to a slow start. She had to withdraw from the Hopman Cup due to a knee injury she sustained in a singles match against Australia Gold. Then in the year’s first Grand Slam, the Austrailia Open, Serena reached the finals but was upset in three sets Angelique Kerber. It was the first time that Serena had lost an Australian Open Final. She had been 6-0 prior to her loss to Kerber.
Despite being ranked the number one women’s player in the world for over 160 weeks which is second to Steffi Graf’s record of 186 weeks ranked number one, some say Serena’s time at the top of women’s tennis is nearing its end. Is her time at the top coming to an end, only time will tell but it’s unlikely the fall will occur this year. She may not be the same player she was a few years ago, but she is still clearly the best player on tour, and will be the favorite to win every tournament she competes in. As of March 2016, Serena is 4,500 points higher than the second ranked player in the world, Angelique Kerber. So unless something disastrous happens, Serena will end the year ranked number one and would have eclipsed Graff’s record of 186 weeks ranked number one.
Serena will turn 35 in September of this year and it’s unknown at this point how much longer she plans on playing. But right now she is not only beating her opponents but Father Time as well.
The image of Serena WIlliams courtesy of people.com