Serena, from ghetto girl to Grand Slam queen


MELBOURNE, Jan. 28: Serena Williams started playing tennis on potholed courts in one of America's most notorious gangland neighbourhoods, but against the odds she has risen to become arguably the best player in the sport's history.

It hasn't been an easy journey in a white-dominated sport steeped in tradition, but Williams has pursued her goals with a determination just as fearsome as the raw power with which she plays her shots.

Strong but also quick, ruthless and fiercely competitive, Williams has been at the top for a generation, since she beat Martina Hingis aged 17 in the 1999 US Open final.

So often she has been more or less unbeatable, and even at the age of 35 she remains the favourite whenever she plays, her capacities not noticeably diminished.

Along the way she has been world number one for a total of 309 weeks - a span of nearly six years - and won major titles against some of the greats: Hingis, Lindsay DavenportMaria SharapovaJustine Henin and of course, her sister Venus.

Venus, 14 months older at 36, is her greatest rival and she can also take much credit for her success, after so many years touring and practising together and encouraging each other.

But it's a lop-sided head-to-head: out of their nine major finals, Serena has won seven and her overall win-loss record against her big sister is 17-11.

In a sign of her dominance, Williams has a winning career record against all 14 players she has beaten in major finals, including her towering 19-2 against Sharapova.

After surpassing Steffi Graf's record of 22 major titles in the post-1968 Open era on Saturday, there's little else for Williams to achieve, barring Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 which will surely soon be hers.

But don't bet against the newly engaged Williams, showing a refreshingly carefree spirit this year, also sealing the calendar-year Grand Slam which narrowly eluded her in 2015.

It's all a long way from the pitted courts, sometimes missing nets and with gunshots audible nearby, of Compton in Los Angeles, where Williams practised with Venus from the age of five.

The youngest of five daughters was drilled intensely by her father, former sharecropper Richard Williams, who was happy to let schoolchildren hurl insults at his girls as they played.

"In order to be successful you must prepare for the unexpected - and I wanted to prepare for that," he told CNN in 2015. "Criticism can bring the best out of you."

Richard and Oracene Williams moved their family to Florida in the early 1990s, seeing their daughters needed more specialist coaching, with Serena already an outstanding junior.

She turned professional in 1995, at the age of just 14. Two years later, she was in the top 100 and in January 1998 made her Grand Slam debut, reaching the second round of the Australian Open - where she was beaten by Venus.




It was to kick off a long rivalry, the biggest of either player's career but also the friendliest, with no question of disharmony even as Serena took control of their head-to-head figures and beat Venus in six major finals.




And so it was fitting that when Serena's crowning glory came, in the same place where her Grand Slam career started 19 years earlier, Venus was the first to congratulate her across the net.




"This is a story," Serena said. "This is something that I couldn't write a better ending. This is a great opportunity for us to start our new beginning."(TOI)

Related News

India pummels New Zealand, retakes top slot in ICC rankings

KOLKATA (INDIA), oct. 3 : India on Monday pulled off a brilliant all-round performance to trounce New Zealand by 178 runs in the second Test in Kolkata to clinch the series with an unassailable 2-0 lead, which also propelled it to the top of the ICC rankings, dethroning arch-rival Pakistan.…

Making decisions and backing them fully is real essence of a leader: Kohli

NEW DELHI, 6 Oct. : Virat Kohli boasts of an impressive record as captain since taking over the reigns of the Indian Test team two years ago and the right-hander feels the essence of being a leader lies in taking bold decisions and backing them to the hilt without thinking…

Kohli and Rahane help India take command

MUMBAI, Oct.9: During India’s pre-match training session on Friday, after facing throwdowns from batting coach Sanjay Bangar, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were involved in a long chat at the Holkar Stadium. On Saturday, the captain and vice-captain spent even more time together, where it mattered the most. The two…

Ashwin shares his success secret

INDORE (INDIA), Oct. 10: With the kind of form he is in, R. Ashwin’s second five-wicket haul of the series – his 20th of his career – may have been expected by many of Indian cricket’s aficionados. But for the man himself, the effort was “pretty special” because he had to…

India completes 3-0 whitewash against New Zealand

INDORE, Oct. 11: New Zealand crashed to a 321-run defeat against India on Tuesday, slumping to 153 all out on day four of the third Test. Set an improbable 475 runs to win, Ravichandran Ashwin (7-59) took his 21st five-wicket haul in test cricket to run through the Black Caps. After…

Cut all ties with Pak. till terrorism ends: Gambhir

NEW DELHI, Oct. 19: Cricketer Gautam Gambhir on Monday called for a complete freeze on ties with Pakistan till cross-border terrorism ends. “I would not even think of playing cricket with Pakistan. Indian lives are more important than sports,” Gambhir told mediapersons here. Gambhir insisted that every Indian must put himself…


Find Us on Facebook

From Social

Tokyo (Japan), Sept. 13: A new leadership assumed responsibilities at the Non Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA), Japan on Sunday. The new office bearers took oath of office and secrecy after a long fought battle resulting from dissatisfaction from those who…

Lama led officials assume responsibility in NRNA Japan