x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Serena Williams a golden girl again

Serena Williams is not close to having the same number of titles as Martina Navratilova or the years of domination Steffi Graf had, but she should still be considered among the best ever in her sport.

Serena Williams may not have the statistics to back her up, such as total grand slam wins, weeks at No 1 or overall titles, but she should still be considered among her sport's greatest.
Serena Williams may not have the statistics to back her up, such as total grand slam wins, weeks at No 1 or overall titles, but she should still be considered among her sport's greatest.

Serena Williams probably will never emulate Steffi Graf's reign at the top of the rankings, match Margaret Court's grand slam conquests or compare with Martina Navratilova's list of titles.

But few can doubt her place alongside the greats of tennis, especially after the emphatic manner of her win in the women's singles final of the London Games, against the world No 2 and four-time major champion, Maria Sharapova.

The 6-0, 6-1 victory allowed Williams to complete a career Golden Slam. Only three other players in singles history have achieved this lofty feat - Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal. But Williams is the only player, man or woman, to achieve the Golden Slam in both singles and doubles.

But the 30-year-old American figures way down in the WTA scrolls.

Graf was at the top of the women's ranking for 377 weeks, winning 107 WTA singles titles, including 22 grand slams.

Court won two more majors than "Fraulein Forehand" and Navratilova leads the list of winners on the WTA with 167 singles titles (including 18 grand slams).

Williams, the current world No 4, has spent 123 weeks at the top of the rankings, has 44 WTA singles titles and 14 major championships, numbers that look unimpressive when compared to the likes of Graf, Court or Navratilova.

Yet, there is a growing belief Williams belongs alongside those grand dames of women's tennis, if not alone at the top, and it includes the 12-time grand slam winner Billie Jean King.

"There's no reason Serena Williams shouldn't be the greatest woman player that's ever played," King said two years ago.

"Up to this time, the greatest singles, doubles and mixed player has been Martina Navratilova. I think the greatest singles player up to this time has been Graf. There's no reason that Serena can't surpass some goals of people."

Since returning to the circuit following a foot injury after a 2010 Wimbledon win, Williams says she has "just been focused only on tennis, nothing else.

"No distractions, no life.

"My life is practice in the morning, training in the afternoon. Wake up to practice in the morning, training."

If she can keep this focus and routine, Williams could easily add to her grand slam tally.

As easily, she could take an eight-month break, frustrating many of her supporters.

It has happened in the past and her distractions are many.

Back in 2006, Navratilova said of Williams: "She should be in her physical prime, but she is wasting time you cannot get back.

"She had the opportunity to be the greatest in history. Instead, she'll be a supernova who burst on to the scene, and then she was gone."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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