Since her celebrated post-partum return to tennis, Serena Williams has been on a desperate quest to claim Grand Slam No. 24. But, what once seemed to be her calling card, winning slams, has now proved to be virtually impossible.
From 1999 until 2015, Serena went 21-4 in major finals. Contrarily, Williams has managed to make two of the last four major finals, in as many attempts, losing all in straight sets.
One could argue it may be a result of the changing of the guard in tennis, coupled with a surge of fresh faces whom have made it trendy to win slams. Serena, however, at age 38, has defied the passage of time and age, proving she is still able to compete at the same level she could, when she won her maiden slam 20 years ago.
It now seems as though Williams may have hoisted her last major trophy at the 2017 Australian, which occurred five weeks into her pregnancy. Failing to rise to the occasion upon her return, it is within reason to believe that mission 24 might just be mission impossible. That tirelessly sought 24th Grand Slam might elude her into retirement, even after a giant 23.
Besides wishful thinking, we can reflect and enjoy her celebrated past, when two majors in a calendar year was her standard, when there was the ‘Serena Slam.’
But should any of this come as a surprise? Life’s irony works like that, and luck has likewise eluded her when it mattered most.
Let’s go back to 2015, Williams getting the W at the Australian Open, the French Open and the prestigious Wimbledon. What happens when we get to Flushing, New York that August? On the brink of the uncommon Golden Slam? She failed to make the final, getting knocked out in the semis. So close right? The elephant in the room.
Now, there may not be any form of connection here, but hear me out; Serena won Wimbledon back to back in 2015 and 2016, beating Garbiñe Muguruza and Angelique Kerber respectively. In the year of her absence, it was Muguruza who lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish, besting whom? Serena’s own blood, Venus Williams.
I’m not quite finished yet. The subsequent year, Serena returned to the Wimbledon final, her first since being back, with slam 24 waiting for her, but Kerber had a different plan in mind, stopping Serena in straight sets. If there’s no connection in all of that, only a higher power can convince me.
As the curtains come down on this decade of tennis, we are all truly grateful that Serena gave us all of 13 majors, and an Olympic Gold medal. Turning our heads to the new decade, let’s see what Serena has in store for us, starting with the Australian Open. Happy belated birthday Serena. See you in Melbourne.
Nicholas Martin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org