By Jo Nordhoff-Beard ‘19
Serena Williams is undisputedly the greatest living American athlete right now. Simone Biles might give her a run for her money, but Serena Williams is better at her job than anyone is at their job. Williams has the most major tournament titles of any tennis player in the Open Era with 23, and the second most all time. She has been ranked world no. 1 seven times, and her sixth time being ranked no. 1 she held the position for 186 consecutive weeks. She cruised through the 2017 Australian Open, her most recent major win, never dropping a set.
Serena has been at the forefront of a lot of controversies in tennis that have led to major changes in the sport. In 2001, when Serena competed in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, because of some miscommunication by the event organizers to the crowd about the fact that Venus Williams, Serena’s sister, was unable to play in the semifinal match against her, the crowd booed and jeered Serena in the tournament final against Kim Clijsters. After she ended up winning the tournament, her coach and father Richard Williams said that racist remarks had been made to him in the stands and the event chairperson did not issue the Williams sisters an apology for the way the fans treated them. Both Williams sisters boycotted the tournament until 2015, when Serena began competing there again after 14 years.
Her loss in the 2004 US Open quarterfinals, amid many disputed calls that were later overruled by video replay after the fact, was what lead to the creation of the Hawkeye video replay system and challenge review system in the ATP and WTA.
She also was called for a foot fault on her serve in the 2009 US Open semifinals in which she tried to hold against match point, which led to Clijsters’ victory and the tournament win. Such a call was unprecedented, and the way Serena reacted was one of the purest displays of emotion I have ever seen in a sporting event. She did not choose to shrug it off and keep going, and her intense reaction of frustration showed the world how seriously she takes her sport and how much she believed in herself. I admire her fierce determination, top notch serve, and unbridled passion for tennis. My goal is to have as much passion for my job as Serena has for tennis.
As well as being impressed with Serena’s athleticism, I am also in awe of her romantic choices. Serena Williams and Drake is my favorite power couple because in fall 2015, both of them were on top of the world in terms of pop culture prominence and skill at tennis. Drake had the most popular song in the world with Hotline Bling, and Serena had accomplished the Serena slam of winning all of the major tennis tournaments but not in the same calendar year. One of my greatest wishes in life is for them to find forever love together.
Serena Williams has showed me what passion, hard work, and swag mean. She is my favorite athlete, the best female athlete of the moment, and arguably the best female tennis player of all time.