Serena May Be The Greatest Women's Tennis Player Ever And Now's Her Chance To Prove It

31/08/2015 1:14 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Serena Williams of the United States returns a shot to Maria Sharapova of Russia, during the women's singles semifinal match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Thursday July 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

We avid sports fans create new memories every year, most of which remain with us until the following season. Our team winning a championship or a big game, our favourite player triumphing in the year's major tournament, a super six, a magnificent forehand, a mind-numbing goal, an incredible putt and yes even a choke or two. Then the year ends. We look forward to next season with optimism and belief that our team will do it again or do it for the first time. That is how the calendar generally plays out.

Every once in a while, if we are lucky, we get the chance to watch someone go for something that is historical in a sport. It is not a win that lasts just for a year but something that goes down in the history of the sport. Something that comes may be once in 20-30 years. Fortunately for us 2015 is that year for tennis.

As Monday dawns in New York City Serena Williams is going for a calendar Grand Slam. Don't be fooled by her dominance -- this is not an easy feat. Think about it for a second. The first year that all four majors were played by women was 1922. Since that time only three women, Maureen Connolly Brinker (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988) have won all four slams in the same year. Only three women. If Serena triumphs in two weeks, she will be the fourth.

"You may not like her but you just can't get over how good she is."

She won the "Serena Slam" in 2002-03. She won the French, Wimbledon and US Open in 2002 and then followed that up with an Australian Open win in 2003. But in the world's eyes that doesn't count. You have to win them all in the same calendar year.

There is no doubt that Serena belongs in the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) debate when it comes to women's tennis. Winning this year's US Open will make her a tied second with Steffi Graf in terms of number of singles grand slam titles, behind only Margaret Court. Passing Steffi seems like a mere formality now and it won't be shocking to see her overtake Margaret Court's record of 24 singles Grand Slam titles within a year.

Serena's career though has not been a smooth ride. A challenging childhood, injuries, questions on her desire to win and controversies galore -- ranging from match-fixing to unsportsmanlike conduct. Distasteful comments have been made on her physical prowess as well. Serena fought through these and emerged as one of the most dominant players the game has ever witnessed.

While she does have a substantial fan following, Serena has never captured the hearts of tennis fans across the world as much as a Chris Evert or Steffi Graf did. Rather, today she leaves you in awe at her game, shot-making ability and sheer dominance of her rivals. You may not like her but you just can't get over how good she is.

She won her first grand-slam in 1999 and 14 long years later she is at the peak of her career, showing no signs of slowing down. It is going to be challenging to overtake Margaret Court in terms of slam titles (singles and doubles) and almost impossible to eclipse Steffi in the hearts of people, but at the end of her career Serena Williams may not only be considered the greatest women's tennis player of all time but also the greatest ever women's athlete across all sports.

Odds makers have her winning the US Open at just under even money, while the next favorite player is Victoria Azarenka at a distant 10.5 to 1. Her quest for history begins today. Stay tuned.

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