Pages: Thriving Serena wins WTA championship-A A +A
Monday, October 29, 2012
YOU may not know this: Serena Williams almost died. Seriously. Early last year in Munich, while leaving a restaurant with her nephew and tennis hitting partner, she stepped on glass. It punctured her foot. Continuing to walk, she felt pain until, in her own words, “There was a massive puddle of blood. I ended up fainting and needed stitches in both feet.”
Cut in the feet? Nah. That’s nothing; especially for one as robust and resilient as Ms. Williams, right? Wrong. The injury turned out to be the beginning of a life-threatening twist.
“At first people said it would be fine, it would be all right but it turned out to be a lot more serious,” said Serena. “If it had been left two days later it could have been career-ending -- or even worse. They told me I had several blood clots in both lungs. A lot of people die from that.”
Lying in the hospital bed, there were nights when Serena couldn’t breathe. Some mornings, she couldn’t stand up. “I just laid on a couch thinking ‘why has this happened to me?’”
She was later diagnosed with pulmonary embolism, described in Wikipedia as “a blockage of the main artery of the lung.” She nearly died from an undetected blood clot in both lungs. Scary.
Serena not only survived, she thrived. This 2012? She’s had one of the best seasons of
any player. How good was her year?
She won Wimbledon, the Olympic singles and doubles gold medals, the US Open and, just the other day, the year-ending WTA Championship.
Her ranking: No. 3 in the world? Ha-ha. Only No. 3? Well, in everyone’s mind, she’s numero uno without par. Against No. 1 or No. 2-ranked players, she has won 12 straight times. The last time she lost that match-up was five years ago.
Against the prettiest athlete in the world, Maria Sharapova, she not only defeated her 6-4, 6-3 last Sunday but, in the Olympic singles final in London, she embarrassed her, 6-0, 6-1.
IN PERSON. I’ve had the chance, on two occasions, to watch Serena live. The first was together with my dad Bunny at the 1999 US Open. Our trip was historic: In that New York tournament 13 years ago, the then-17-year-old Williams won her very first Grand Slam title. Watching her practice with older sister Venus at a side court, we noticed how massive and muscular she is.
Serena’s legs? They’re not the usual “tennis legs.” If you look at Steffi Graf or Victoria Azarenka, theirs are lean -- made by God to give them quickness and agility.
Not Serena’s legs. She has shot-putter-legs. They’re massive. Yet, she can get to the tennis balls as quickly as anyone else. Her secrets? Tremendous anticipation and
The other time I saw Serena up-close was four years ago at the Olympics. She lost in the quarterfinals to Elena Dementieva in Beijing.
AGE. Serena is no longer young in tennis age. She’s 31. Yet, she feels as hungry as any teenager. Asked last Sunday if this season was her best ever, she pointed to 2002 (the year when she achieved the Serena Slam: the last three majors plus the ’03
What’s most amazing? Serena is hungrier than ever. When asked if she’s reached the summit of her career, she did not dwell on her past success but looked ahead to tomorrow. “There’s always 2013,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.” Scary for Maria Sharapova and Co.
Wealth? The Florida resident has plenty. Excluding endorsements, she has won nearly $42 million in prize money -- possibly the most money of any woman athlete.
She has amassed 30 Grand Slam titles: 15 in singles, 13 in doubles, and two in mixed doubles. An important statistic: She and Venus are unbeaten in 13 women’s doubles Grand Slam finals.
Olympic medals? She has four. One in singles (London) and three in women’s doubles.
And, if we speak of Golden Grand Slam, we talk about winning the four major titles plus an Olympic gold. Of all of Serena’s achievements, here’s the most outstanding of all: she is the only human being in tennis history to have won the Career Golden Grand Slam in both singles and doubles.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 30, 2012.