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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 09:25 PM   #1
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At 26, SERENA at crossroads

by: Stephen Tignor, TENNIS.com
posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Serena Williams turned 26 on Wednesday. Are you shocked that she's reached such an advanced tennis age already? On the one hand, it's hardly surprising, because Serena seems to have been around the game forever, either dominating it or looming over it -- we've been watching the Williams sisters since they were preteens. On the other hand, her career seems strangely unfulfilled at this stage. I say "strangely," because it's hard to say that about a player who has won eight Grand Slams. Perhaps Bjorn Borg, who retired at 26, is the only other one who qualifies.

Then again, few players promised as much as Williams. She won the U.S. Open at 17 and completed her Serena Slam, when she held all four major titles, at 21. Just as impressive, she brought a level of power and aggression to the sport that put her miles ahead of the competition. If great players set the bar for future champions, Serena set it higher than most. The generation that has followed her -- Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jelena Jankovic, et al. -- has yet to match it.

Along the way, the Williamses smashed through any color barriers that lingered in tennis and attracted people who had never watched the sport, or any sport, before. As the younger Williams once said after scanning a mob of people gathered around her, "Yep, got to get a look at Serena." The family, from father Richard on down, did it their own way, and they remain polarizing figures. What was the biggest story of this year's U.S. Open? If it hadn't been for Novak Djokovic's imitations, it would have been Serena saying that Justine Henin had hit a bunch of "lucky shots" to beat her.

Which brings us to the present. What should we think of Serena's career at this point? I've never begrudged her the ability to take months off, get out of shape, and come right back to win a major. John McEnroe hated practicing and working out, but this was just considered a sign of his "genius." The fact that Serena is instead credited as a great "athlete" tells you all you need to know about how black and white sports stars continue to be stereotyped today.

Still, Serena should be held to a higher standard, for her sake and ours. It's aggravating to watch a player perform below their ability on a regular basis. Seeing Serena look slow, sloppy and unprepared in losing to Henin at the Open, I felt like she was at a crossroads. This was the Belgian's third straight win over her at a Slam -- a woman had finally shown clear superiority over Serena. Now the question is, how will she react? Will she admit to herself that can't keep one foot in the game and still expect to roll over everyone? Will she give tennis, and Henin, her best next year? Serena should consider herself lucky to have the challenge: At 26, she has a chance to fulfill her tremendous potential -- and prove the world wrong -- all over again.


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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 09:35 PM   #2
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

These people should leave Serena to celebrate her birthday in peace,she is not the only player out there.These so called journalists are obssessed with V or S age as if they cant wait for them to retire,I reckon they also know the time they were born and the doctor that cut the umbilical cord.There never talk about Roddick or Roger ages the way they do about Venus and Serena.
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 09:45 PM   #3
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

Serena has endured much over the years, and true the last few has not been her best. Injuries as much as anything has slowed her. That persistent problem knee sees always a hindrance and a looming question. Will she return to full strength or not? Depends on her ailments and desire. It is hard to believe she will ever reach 2002, but with Serena you never really know. Seems she can almost do whatever she wishes. But on this day I will just wish her a happy 26th birthday.
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 09:46 PM   #4
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

Great article. Thanks
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 09:56 PM   #5
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

Serena's chronic knee injury has created a quagmire in her career. You will likely see her play a shortened schedule for the rest of her career in order to focus on grand slam singles events and prevent having to have another surgery until after or right before she retires. Graf's back problems forced her to shorten her tournament schedule when she was 26 to lengthen her career.

However, as with anything else in Serena's life, she'll give it 100% until she can no longer do it.

Henin began pulling back after recovering from her virus in order to lengthen her career.

You do what you have to do to survive.
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 10:06 PM   #6
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

good article

Happy b-day Ree!!!
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 10:50 PM   #7
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

Damn! Another open letter! When will they learn? It's a great article though. Full of truths. While reading this, I finally lightened up about the lucky shots comment and burst out laughing. You gotta hand it to Rena..the girl is so confident, proud and sure of her abilities, that she will not expose her weaknesses by saying she got her ass whooped. That's Rena. love her for it. she's a proud champion. let's hope next year's slam results are much better.
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 11:22 PM   #8
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

Quote:
Originally Posted by frontier View Post
These people should leave Serena to celebrate her birthday in peace,she is not the only player out there.These so called journalists are obssessed with V or S age as if they cant wait for them to retire,I reckon they also know the time they were born and the doctor that cut the umbilical cord.There never talk about Roddick or Roger ages the way they do about Venus and Serena.

That's because Venus and Serena are the SHIT!!! And everyone knows it!
No One Else Can Compare!!
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 11:54 PM   #9
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

I don't think someone who's won a grandslam and a tier I and made it to all 3 other GS's QF would have anything to be ashamed of or at any crossroad. If the author thinks that she is at a crossroad, let me in on it cause that's one heck of a x-sing.
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 12:13 AM   #10
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

Omg
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 12:18 AM   #11
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

BOllocks!!!!
I dont remember all this harping when Sabatini walked away one of the most under achieving players of recent memory barring injury!!!
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 12:30 AM   #12
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

nice article.

I think Serena IS at a xroads. I think she's at a point where she needs to decide what she wants people to say about her career years from now.
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 12:44 AM   #13
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yonexforever View Post
I dont remember all this harping when Sabatini walked away one of the most under achieving players of recent memory barring injury!!!
I wouldn't really call Sabatini that much of an underachiever...
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 12:45 AM   #14
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

you wouldnt/didnt.. but i did!
She def should have won more slams!
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 12:50 AM   #15
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Re: At 26, SERENA at crossroads

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yonexforever View Post
you wouldnt/didnt.. but i did!
She def should have won more slams!
Of course I respect your opinion, I liked Gaby's game to a certain degree as well. She competed in the era of Steffi, Monica and Arantxa, though, who were all IMHO better players than Sabatini.

Edited to add: Oh, and her serve was crap
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