The Secret To Serena Williams' Dominance
Following the first-round shocker at the French Open, Serena has won the Wimbledon Championships, the Olympic gold medal, and the US Open. Although this would describe a phenomenal year by anybody else's standards, this is only typical for Serena. Along with her sister Venus, Serena has dominated tennis since she joined the professional tour and Grand Slam titles are commonplace in the Williams household.
Though this year was just another spectacular year for Serena, her motivations have greatly changed. In 2011, Serena was diagnosed with a blood clot and played on and off for about 8 months. But there was a period of time where all Serena could think about was just getting out of bed. Her health and lifestyle was at risk; let alone her tennis career. Tennis experts and fans alike speculated a possible retirement from the 30-year-old, but Serena consistently claimed that she will definitely be back on the court.
Among all the press conferences and interviews, most of them include appreciation to her supporters and fans. The usually ferocious and explosive Serena Williams showed signs of weakness and elicited sympathy. For the first time in her life, Serena wasn't all about the Grand Slam titles; she just wanted to play tennis. Through chasing trophies and prize money, it seemed as if Serena had lost that sense of innocence on the court. That Serena was chasing more than the tennis ball. Her infamous outburst at the US Open had tarnished her legacy as a champion and left fans wondering whether she loved the game at all anymore.
After a long rehabilitation period and much health consulting, Serena was back in the game. She had finally fit the cliché: playing for the love of the game. Serena had turned from competitive to loving; she nurtured the game of tennis and embraced every minute of it.
Fast forward to the Wimbledon Final and Serena is one point away from her return to glory. In convincing fashion, Serena bursts an unreachable backhand and wins the point. She is ecstatic. Serena can't stop jumping in the air and viewers see her customary smile after 14 days of grueling tennis. But at the post-match interview, Serena begins to choke up. She looks back at her days stuck in the hospital bed and thanks her physician for helping her through the last year. The seemingly impenetrable Serena Williams shed tears; not of joy or sadness but of appreciation.
It is simply frightening to think what Serena is now capable of doing. After single-handedly dominating women’s tennis for over a decade, she has discovered a stronger, more intrinsic motivation. When experts are asked who their favorite is to win a Grand Slam, the first question they ask: "Is Serena playing?"
And this was before her hospitalization. Now at the age of 30 where tennis players she grew up with are constantly retiring, she is just getting started. It’s like she came back to tennis a completely different person; and that’s the secret to her dominance. There is a freshness to the way she approaches tennis, which is hard to believe considering her ever-growing illustrious career. One of Serena’s biggest weapons is her everlasting hunger for competition. Couple that with innocence for the game and you've got quite a winning formula.
Look out women's tennis. You missed out on your opportunity. The field isn't so open anymore.