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Tributes are pouring in to honor a true champion
Tammerlin Drummond: Serena Williams a true champion on the court
Since mid-2010, Serena Williams has been all over the headlines.
More for her injuries, temper tantrums and romance dramas, unfortunately, than for winning Grand Slam tennis titles.
In 2010, shortly after winning Wimbledon, Williams had to have surgery twice on her right foot, which kept her out for the rest of the season.
Then in February 2011, she was hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism.
She had to inject herself with blood thinners twice a day to treat the clots that had migrated to her lungs. The next month, Williams was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for emergency surgery to remove a hematoma.
It was clear that Williams had serious medical issues, and many people doubted that she would ever compete again.
Pundits proclaimed that, at age 30, Williams was over the hill. That her health challenges seemed insurmountable. The chorus intensified ¿in May when Williams lost in the first round of the French Open.
But on Saturday, the Serena Williams of old came back with a vengeance.
Williams didn't just defeat Agnieszka Radwanska at Wimbledon to clinch her fifth Wimbledon and 14th Grand Slam title.
She overpowered her Polish opponent for most of the match. It was like watching Wonder Woman against a mere mortal.
Radwanska, who went into the match ranked No. 3 in the world, is certainly no slouch. But it was obvious that she was not even in the same league as Williams.
Williams unloaded a tournament-record 102 aces on her two-week march to the title. An ace is when the player serving hits the ball so hard or places it so far out of her opponent's reach, the receiver can't even touch it with her racket.Some of Williams' crushing serves were clocked at 128 mph.
They came so hard and fast that, several times, Radwanska just froze and watched the ball blow past her.
"So many aces," she said after the match. "I couldn't do much about it."
Radwanska had a grand total of 16.
To add icing to the cake, Serena and her older sister Venus, 32, also won the doubles title later that day.
It was another incredible chapter in the story of two sisters who learned to play tennis in public parks in Compton, a predominately black, low-income city, then went on to dominate women's tennis for more than a decade.
They are the first African-American women to win Wimbledon since the late Althea Gibson in 1958.
Between them, the siblings have won 10 of the last 13 Wimbledon singles titles.
Yet their rankings don't reflect their true dominance of the sport because the Williamses -- who play when they feel like it -- ¿compete in far fewer matches than most top-rated players on the circuit.
Serena is ranked No. 4 in the world. But she beat the top three players to win Wimbledon, so those rankings don't mean a whole lot.
Bear in mind that this is the same person who just a year ago was in the hospital battling a life-threatening illness -- wondering if she would even survive, much less return to the tennis court.
There are athletes, and then there are champions.
Champions have the discipline and fortitude to bring their top game -- regardless of illnesses, injuries or other personal setbacks. They don't quit -- no matter how humiliating their most recent loss may have been. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off and throw themselves back headlong into the game.
Serena Williams is a true champion.
Luckily for us, fresh off her Wimbledon win, Williams comes to the Bay Area to defend her title at the Bank of the West Classic at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium at Stanford, which is now suddenly one of the hottest tickets in town.
The classic is the longest-running women-only tennis tournament.
The funny thing is organizers were initially concerned about ticket sales with the event so close to Wimbledon and the Olympics.
I doubt that will be a problem now as Williams makes her triumphant return. Her first match is Wednesday.
I bought a ticket for the finals Sunday. Hopefully, Williams will be there defending her title.
I guess she's not so washed up after all at 30.