Can Serena Williams win the 2022 U.S. Open?Tim Strawn
It’s all eyes on Serena Williams at this year’s U.S. Open as she makes one final attempt to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 singles titles. Can she do it? Well, anything is possible, but she has her work cut out for her. She played well in the first round, moving past 80th ranked Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 but it only gets harder as her second round opponent is the #2 seeded Anett Kontaveit, the 26-year-old from Estonia. She has not made it past the 4th round at the U.S. Open but nonetheless, she will present a tough challenge for Serena. The young women on the tour hit just as hard if not harder than Serena and their biggest advantage is their movement. Serena has one advantage over the rest of the field in her arsenal of shots and that’s her serve. However, she’ll have to raise the consistency in that shot if she expects to go deep into the draw. Her opponents know that to win against Serena, they must make her move because anything within reach puts Serena on equal ground from the baseline and at that point, she has a 50-50 shot at winning the point.
Serena’s serve, her will to win and her tenacity on the court will likely never be seen again once she retires. Her serve was a real weapon that could get her out of trouble just as it did in the ninth game of the first set against Kovinic. At 5-3 and serving for the set, she faced 4 break points, and then, like the flip of a switch, it was ace, ace, unreturnable serve, and set to Sereena. For a moment she looked like the Sereena of the past when she could easily dispatch even the toughest of opponents. All who have watched her through the years and who had come to know what she was capable of were asking the question. Is she back? At least for one match the answer was a resounding yes but she’s only getting started and she’ll have to continually raise the level of her game going forward.
Serena’s fans were out in force for her first-round match, all cheering on their champion and all hoping that this would not be the last they would see of Serena at this year’s U.S. Open. We spotted Martina Navratilova sitting next to Mike Tyson, Queen Latifa, and Gladys Knight sitting as Midnight Train to Georgia played in the background, Spike lee was in the house, and of course, her daughter Olympia was there to cheer on her mother. All in all, Serena’s first-round match at this year’s U.S. Open was a spectacle to be sure.
Sports can be cruel at times as it was for William’s opponent Kovinic. As Kovinic entered the stadium there was mild applause as though to say, not tonight, we’re not going to let you take her out tonight and this is just a reminder of who you’re playing. And then, Sereena appears in Arthur Ashe stadium preceded by a video narrated by Queen Latifa. Her outfit sparkled in diamonds, from her hair to the flowing cape that trailed behind her. As the two players warmed up, the screens around the stadium read “greatest of all time” and the announcer listed Williams’ achievements in painstaking detail. It was easy to feel the pressure Kovinic was experiencing and one could only imagine what was going through her mind. “Am I going to be the one? Will it be me that sends her to the locker room amidst all of this hoopla for the greatest player of all time? Imagine the pressure Kovinic must have been facing not to mention that there was something on the line for her too. Her task was to get passed Serena but the problem was, it wasn’t just Serena she had to face. She also had the roar of a record crowd for a first-round match at the Open and they were not about to let her forget just who she was up against. Yes, sports can be cruel but if we harken back to the 2018 final between Williams and Naomi Osaka the tables were turned as Serena was rattled by a call by the lines person and Osaka went on to win the match 6-2, 6-4. The grace that Serena showed towards Osaka in her post-match comments was revealing. Williams, still in the race for a record number of singles titles had been derailed by yet another younger opponent but being the champion she is, she gave the rattled Osaka a hug and comforted her as the unruly crowd jeered in disappointment.
Will this be the sendoff that all of Serena’s fans are expecting? Only time will tell but one thing’s for sure. As the curtain falls on one of the greatest athletes of all time, Serena Williams will be remembered for her accomplishments on and off the court. When asked what’s next she calmly replies “Serena 2.0” and assures us all that she will face the future with the determination and tenacity that followed her to the court for so many years.
If you’re a racquet technician and would like to join a community of like-minded people please visit our Membership page at www.gssalliance.com/join/ to join us. Already a basic member? You’ll find an easy upgrade link on the join page to become a Premium member.
IART Premium Members have FULL access to all content and exclusive membership directories. Knowledge is power, so become a Premium member and get THAT power!