View Full Version : ESPN Puts SERENA Comeback In Perspective; Compared Her To Other Sports Greats

Aug 24th, 2011, 11:04 PM
Don't doubt Serena Williams' comeback

http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2011/0818/espn_a_swilliams2_sy_200.jpg http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2011/0818/espn_a_swilliams_sy_300.jpg (http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/page/howard-110818/serena-williams-comeback-good-women-tennis#)

In November, her foot in a cast, this summer's dominance might have seemed inconceivable.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezLooks like Williams' comeback is in perfect sync for the U.S. Open in a couple of weeks.

The question was bouncing around even before Serena Williams (http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/players/profile?playerId=394) won two straight tournaments and arrived at the Western & Southern Open in suburban Cincinnati this week looking as if she is perfectly timing her comeback to crescendo at the upcoming U.S. Open. In fact, the question was put to her directly a month ago, when she first came back from a 49-week layoff caused by serious illness and injuries and advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon. And after she lost to Marion Bartoli (http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/players/profile?playerId=320) there, Williams gave the suggestion all the respect it deserved -- which is to say, very little.

Reporter: "A lot of people would say if you come here after the best part of the year out of the game and walked away with the title, it wouldn't have necessarily have been a good thing for women's tennis. Can you appreciate that? Does this result show [women's tennis] is competitive still?"

Williams, scoffing: "Yeah, I'm super happy that I lost -- 'Go, women's tennis.'"
Williams was right to use an overhead smash to smack away the idea that the "lousy" state of the women's tennis tour -- and not her remarkable ability -- is what has allowed her to bounce back. Instead of giving her credit for rebounding from an 11-month absence caused by two foot surgeries, then a scary emergency procedure in March for a pulmonary embolism (doctors removed blood clots from both lungs), Williams has to hear that what she's doing now isn't all that special? Forget that.
The men's tour isn't being disparaged as top-to-bottom awful during Novak Djokovic (http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/players/profile?playerId=296)'s spectacular 53-1 record this year. Roger Federer (http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/players/profile?playerId=425) didn't have to hear his opponents diminished this badly in his invincible years, either.

The women's tour is not as deep or as demonstrably good right now as it was when Serena and Venus (http://espn.go.com/tennis/players/profile?playerId=403), Justine Henin (http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/players/profile?playerId=398) and Kim Clijsters (http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/players/profile?playerId=376), Lindsay Davenport (http://espn.go.com/tennis/players/profile?playerId=400), Jennifer Capriati and Amelie Mauresmo (http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/players/profile?playerId=369) -- Grand Slam winners, all -- were playing. Those were some good old days, all right.
But if you didn't notice, Serena was winning most of her 13 Grand Slam singles titles then, too.

So the notion that Williams' dominance might somehow be bad for tennis is a peculiar question. The thought certainly didn't float up when Tiger Woods (http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/players/profile?playerId=462) was dominating the PGA Tour, or Michael Jordan was ruling the NBA, or Barry Bonds (http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/1785/barry-bonds) and Mark McGwire (http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/1738/mark-mcgwire) were smashing home run records and spiking interest in baseball before their steroid use was confirmed. Nor did it come up earlier in Serena's career, when she and her sister were so devastatingly good and wildly popular that TV ratings spiked, ticket sales and prize money ballooned, and the U.S. Open decided to move the women's final to prime time.

The better question is this: When have such exhibitions of greatness ever hurt a sport?

Sports always have been made better because of the presence of genius. Think of Wayne Gretzky inventing a new way to play hockey from behind the net. Remember those first few years when it was still new to see 6-foot-1 Venus cover the net from post to post with her telescopic reach, or smash serves that topped out at 129 mph -- faster than Andre Agassi was able to serve at the height of his career?

It's hard to forget how American sports fans stopped everything to check the race results during the Beijing Olympics every time Michael Phelps resumed his chase of Mark Spitz's individual record for gold medals. Remember how Tiger's long-hitting game used to allow him to toss out old conventions about club selection and rethink the geometry of a course? Red-faced tournament officials finally decided the only answer was to change (or "Tiger-proof") some of the most venerable courses in the game -- even Augusta National, home of the Masters.

Williams' ability puts her in that athletic company. You could parachute her down in any era and she'd still have a great chance to win anytime, anywhere, on any surface. Against anybody.

Until she woke up with a swollen toe on her surgically repaired right foot Wednesday and decided to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open -- she guessed it was probably the residue of playing eight matches in nine days, and decided better to be safe than sorry -- Williams was chasing three tournament wins in a row for the first time since 2008.
So this is nothing new for her.

What is different about Williams' current tear is the way she's admitting to some foibles. She says she still goes to every tournament expecting to win, but her "near-deathbed experience" -- as she has called her embolism scare -- caused her to reassess myriad other things.

The mortality rate for people who suffer pulmonary embolisms and leave them untreated is roughly 30 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This past March, Williams had just flown cross country and was about to go to a party when her physiotherapist became concerned about the shortness of breath Serena experienced that day in her workout and persuaded her to go to a Los Angeles-area hospital. Williams begrudgingly listened. She was soon rushed into emergency surgery to remove those clots from her lungs.

As a result, Williams says, "I'm just more chill now. I can't explain it." She says she's more apt to take each day as it comes, and she's more committed to training. As she was surveying how she could take her game to a new level once she returned, she finally admitted to herself what others have often carped: "I've never really been fit, you know?"

Williams says the embolism surgery cost her a little piece of one lung. She also lost three more months off the tennis tour. She has said getting her wind back has taken a lot of work. She has confessed that there were a few "why me?" days in her long convalescence when she was so down emotionally she couldn't even get up off the couch.

Williams acknowledged that there have been on-court fears to hurdle since coming back, too. But she's also been in notably good humor at most of her news conferences, joking easily about everything from her fast-approaching 30th birthday on Sept. 26 ("No, baby, I'm 26. I'm turning 27 this year") to how her serve has sometimes deserted her since she's been back. (It's a "him" to her, and she said when he/it resurfaced at Wimbledon, she demanded to know, "Where have you been?")

Both Serena and Venus have made a habit in their long careers of coming back from lengthy layoffs to win titles, even at the majors. But this time, Serena's return is different because of the seriousness of what she had to overcome.

Right now -- more than ever -- Williams deserves to be recognized as a remarkable athlete in the midst of a remarkable comeback. She's a story that just keeps getting better all the time.
None of that is "bad" for women's tennis.
It's transcendent.

Johnette Howard is a contributing columnist to ESPN.com and ESPNNewYork.com and is the author of "The Rivals: Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova, Their Epic Duels and Extraordinary Friendship." She can be reached at jphinbox@yahoo.com.

Source: http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/page/howard-110818/serena-williams-comeback-good-women-tennis

Aug 24th, 2011, 11:29 PM
Player forum.

Aug 24th, 2011, 11:38 PM
Like clockwork ...

Serena :worship:

Aug 24th, 2011, 11:55 PM
Player forum.

The truth hurts you that badly?:lol: You can always come home.:sad: Our doors are wide open!:lol:

What a great read! Now that's what I call an "open letter" about Serena! I love this quote....
"Williams' ability puts her in that athletic company. You could parachute her down in any era and she'd still have a great chance to win anytime, anywhere, on any surface. Against anybody." Hot damn!!:bounce:

Aug 25th, 2011, 12:10 AM
I'm partial to Serena but the OP really needs to get off her dick. :shrug:

Aug 25th, 2011, 12:14 AM
Because of the severity of her medical condition, it's the best and the most awe inspiring comback for a sports man or woman ever. To come back from a pulmonary embolism and to win your third and fourth tournament, and to be the overwhelming favourite for a slam just goes to show how amazing Serena is.

Aug 25th, 2011, 01:08 AM
Player forum.After reading that article this is all your mind could come up with:help::tape:

This article is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing it. This inspires you to just keep going no matter what comes your way. Such an inspirational story especially knowing that she felt so low and even had to lose a piece of her lung. Wow, just wow.

Aug 25th, 2011, 01:12 AM
I'm partial to Serena but the OP really needs to get off her dick. :shrug:
You should thank me for sharing such an inspirational and positive article about a great American sport woman on the eve of the United States Tennis Open.

Aug 25th, 2011, 01:27 AM
Nice article, thanks for posting it here!

Aug 25th, 2011, 02:31 AM
:yeah: Serena is defo one of the greatest players ever!

Aug 25th, 2011, 04:17 AM
If it's even vaguely complimentary of her, it needs to go in the player forum, ASAP! Meanwhile a handful of Wozniacki dating/turkish airlines/misc threads go three, four pages before anyone says anything, if at all.

Aug 25th, 2011, 04:29 AM
Source: http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/page/howard-110818/serena-williams-comeback-good-women-tennis


Aug 25th, 2011, 04:45 AM
I kind of lol'd when they said Barry Bonds and Mark Mcgwire because they both took steroids but awesome article. Serena:worship:

Aug 25th, 2011, 05:55 AM
Player forum.
My, what a troll you are.

You don't want to hear about Serena, don't read the thread.

Anyway, I'm glad the author address this notion of an Elite player being "bad" for the game.

Aug 25th, 2011, 06:32 AM
Dsanders! :lol: Can't handle it...player forum?! :rolls:

M!ss Unbreakable
Aug 25th, 2011, 06:39 AM
Loved the article
serena is a great player and i had no doubt that she would have a great comeback :)

Aug 25th, 2011, 07:04 AM
A Great article,it should be Must reading for many tennis commentators and writers.

Aug 29th, 2011, 12:46 PM
Serena start her campaign this week to solidify her position among the great American sport men and women.

Great anticipation in the air

Aug 29th, 2011, 01:20 PM
I actually was expecting to read a better article, one that compared Serena's current comeback to comebacks made in other sports. No matter.

I will say how I personally feel about Serena's comeback. First of all I should add for anyone that doesn't know I am not a Serena fan, although I do admire her ability a lot. Nor am I a Serena hater although there have been times when I have been critical of her, mostly down to her commitment, or at times lack of it, to the tour. Anyway, what Serena has already done this year is to be nothing short of extraordinary. Already in my mind it is one of the best comebacks in sporting history. The only comeback in tennis I can think of that would surpass it would be when Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon. And that is just how Serena's comeback stands right now. Quite obviously it is not finished yet and potentially within the next couple of weeks she might very well be adding the crowning achievement to this great comeback with another US Open title.

Although on current form Serena is the favourite, and based on how she has played in the US so far this summer I certainly do see her as the likely winner, one should never count one's chickens before they hatch. But if Serena does take the US Open title in a couple of weeks, after a year out of the game with the very serious foot injury and even more serious pulmonary embolism I would regard this as perhaps the greatest sporting comeback ever. Particularly as Serena is approaching 30 years old. Winning grand slams in the women's game at Serena's age is damn hard when a player has been entirely healthy but to do it after a year old with a combination of injuries and illness is truely amazing at the virtual age of 30. In contrast Clijsters US Open winning comeback occured at the age of 26, an age a tennis player should be at their very peak.

Once again I say this not as a Serena fan but simply as a tennis fan, I have been absolutely amazed at what Serena has done this summer. As great as I knew she was this far exceeded what I would have considered realistic, given her very difficult circumstances coming into her comeback. I will also add, for me, should Serena win the US Open this year it would could in my book as far more than an ordinary Grand Slam win, not that any Grand Slam win is really ordinary, but this one would been worth the value of 3 or 4 normal Slam wins. Yes, in my book a win at the US Open does put Serena in the company of the Grafs, Navratilovas and Everts as a player one could back a legitimate case for being the greatest ever. That said, she still has 7 matches to win, but right now I wouldn't put it past her.