More on SERENA WILLIAMS:
December 20, 2002
By Dale Brauner
SportsTicker Tennis Editor
JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (Ticker) - Even in one of her many guises, there was no mistaking Serena Williams was the top player and the biggest tennis story of 2002.
After missing the Australian Open with an ankle injury, Williams went on a tear, winning the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. In all, she captured eight of the 13 events she entered to lead the WTA Tour in titles.
But it was not only the mastery in which she ruled women's tennis that impressed, but also her elan. This was a No. 1 player who really took to the spotlight, delighting in being the lightning rod of the tour.
Nowhere was this on display more than in her on-court fashions. Clothing styles on court becoming leading tennis stories is nothing new, but Serena took it to a new level.
At the French Open, the shapely 21-year-old wore a sleeveless green shirt, red shorts and yellow knee-high socks - paying homage to the Cameroon soccer team just days before the World Cup kicked off.
At Wimbledon, Williams wore the required white with a rhinestone tiara, out-duchessing the Duchess of Kent, who handed her the famed gold plate trophy. Later in the year, she sported a extravagant diamond tennis bracelet.
However, she saved her best for the fashion capital of the America when she turned up at the U.S. Open in New York in a skin-tight black "Catwoman" outfit. She alternated that form-fitting, wet-look jumpsuit with one she called the "Pink Panther," a baby pink hooded sweatshirt that showed off a pierced belly button.
"It makes me run faster ... jump high ... like a cat," Williams said. "It's really sexy."
But it was not style without substance. Williams lost just two matches after May and soundly defeated older sister Venus - considered the best player after winning consecutive crowns at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open the previous two years - in the finals at Paris, London and New York.
The two, who became Nos. 1 and 2 in the world after the French Open, have squared off in the finals of four of the last five Grand Slams. If Serena wins the Australian Open in January, she would be just the fifth female player ever to hold all four major titles at the same time.
"My goal right now is the Australian Open," Serena said. "Both Venus and I want that one as neither of us have won it. Maybe I want it more as I want to do the 'Serena Slam.'
Next year will be an important one for Venus, who looked pleased when her sister won her first Grand Slam since the 1999 U.S. Open in Paris, annoyed when Serena took her Wimbledon crown and downright despondent in New York. Still, she was second on tour with seven titles.
"I do not take it so seriously any more," Venus said at Wimbledon. "I realize this is just a game. And when I walk off the court, that part of my life is over. so I just try to keep it on the court."
It was just as well that the Williams sisters generated so much star power, as Jennifer Capriati stumbled after winning the Australian Open in January and former world No. 1s Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis were injured for large chunks of the season.
It will be tough for the tour with VENUS & SERENA preparing to divide the whole tour amongst themselves.