She don’t need no stinkin’ treadmill! Serena Williams is proving that champions are most often not made but born. Despite an onslaught of chuckles concerning her weight – including, admittedly, on this blog – and a dearth of match experience, the seven-time Grand Slam champion reached the final of the Australian Open late last night, her 11th GS final.
Williams “competition” was a 17-year-old Russian ( yes, another one) who gamely tried to hold on at the end but was no mental match for Serena. Nicole Vaidisova lost 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Now comes the good part. Serena, a former No. 1 who fell to 81st in the women’s rankings prior to this tournament, will face the woman who has supplanted her as the top-ranked female in the world – on the court and on Madison Avenue: Maria Sharapova. The women are 2-2 head-to-head.
It’s not clear whether Williams’ charge Down Under speak more to her own mettle than to the lack of depth and talent in women’s tennis. I believe the latter is true but Williams may be beginning that final charge that eliminates any doubt about her place in women’s tennis history. Though only 25, injuries, outside interests, personal travails – and her recent apparent lack of fitness – made us forget just how dominating she was when she was atop her game. She was both physically and mentally impenetrable, the kind of player who walked onto the court several points ahead base don her presence alone. One competitor said earlier this week that Serena and Venus were no longer intimidating the younguns. Maybe not. But if her performance in Australia is any indication of how ’07 might unfold, she’s certainly still capable of trouncing them.
Let’s hope this final is the beeginning of a true rivalry between the game’s two most intriguing figures. Lord knows the sport needs it.
Okay, something for Sharapova fans…