Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Serena Williams celebrates her French Open final victory over Maria Sharapova on Saturday. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
Serena Williams celebrates her French Open final victory over Maria Sharapova on Saturday. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Serena Williams adds a French twist to tennis power game

Ahmed Rizvi explains how, at the age of 32, Serena Williams is the oldest woman to win the French Open and how her ageless tennis career is also about amazing athleticism within the sport.

Serena Williams's power game is truly breathtaking. Awe-inspiring. It is the reason why she is often described as a pugilist on court a Mike Tyson pummelling the Michael Spinks on the other side of the net.

But as you admire her power-hitting, it is easy to overlook her incredible athleticism and amazing defence. Against an opponent like Maria Sharapova, on par with Williams in the mean-hitting and aggression scales, those two aspects of the American's game get a bit more recognition.

And it, perhaps, is the reason why Sharapova has failed to beat Williams since the 2004 Wimbledon final. Her 6-4, 6-4 defeat in the French Open final on Saturday means she has now lost 13 successive matches to her great rival.

Many of the shots she hit Saturday would have been winners against any other opponent, but Williams always seemed to have an answer, returning her best strokes back, much to the frustration of her Russian adversary.

One point illustrated that perfectly.

In the third game of the second set, Sharapova hit a monstrous forehand down the line on Williams's backhand, but the world No 1 stretching and sliding somehow managed to flick it back into play.

A surprised or rather shocked Sharapova erred on her next shot and point, and dropped her serve.

That break was enough for Williams to take the set, and match, closing with an ace down the line on championship point.

She immediately sank to her knees, clutching her face and looking around with frenetic eyes. That was the first time she had looked unsure the whole evening. But once the moment sank in, Williams was her bouncy self again, skipping along like a teenager to receive the trophy.

And, 111 days shy of her 32nd birthday, she became the oldest woman to lift the French Open in the Open era.

Who would have known that, looking at the way she moved on court. Age, truly, is just a number for her. Williams is playing as well, if not better, than at any point in her 17-year career. She has won three of the past four grand slams, and her first French Open title since 2002.

The demanding red clay of Roland Garros is not a place for old men, or women, and Williams had not made it beyond the quarter-finals in her past six visits to Paris. But this time, she was looking for redemption after her first-round defeat to Virginie Razzano last year.

And she got it Saturday. Nobody had expected a different result, though.

Williams was the overwhelming favourite, and not just for her lopsided record against Sharapova. Since her defeat to Razzano 12 months ago, she has been on a different plain, winning 73 of her 76 matches going into the final. And now, she has stretched her career-best winning streak to 31 matches.

"I played a great tournament, but I ran into a great champion today so congratulations to her," said Sharapova, who probably played some of her best tennis against Williams in recent times, but still came up short.

Williams, a great champion, and the 16-time grand slam winner is only getting better with age.

arizvi@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Seiichi Shimomura, centre, is part of a Japan squad that is the gold standard for sides such as the UAE, here in a Asian Five Nations rugby match at Dubai on May 10, 2013 and Singapore aspire to reach. Marwan Naamani / AFP

UAE and Singapore are rugby teams with a similar tale to tell

The UAE versus Singapore in rugby: a battle to see whether our expatriates are better than their expatriates, surely? Well, maybe not for much longer.

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 Sharjah Cricket Stadium's colorful past was never like this – the IPL match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils was loud, raucous and commerical. Pawan Singh / The National

No need for rose-coloured glasses when Sharjah Cricket Stadium host IPL

Sharjah still plays well as India's home away from home when it comes to big-time cricket, but the commercial overtones were in overdrive.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.

 Mickael Barzalona riding Sudden Wonder, left, to victory in the Tattersalls Millions Trophy at Newmarket racecourse on April 17, 2014 in Newmarket, England. Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images

Godolphin boosted by performances of two fresh horses at Newmarket

Be Ready underwhelms in Craven Stakes during otherwise successful day for stables

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National