Most of all, congrats goes to Williams on moving into second all-time for most Grand Slam ladies’ singles titles in the Open Era.
And that’s the most you’ll hear of it.
After Saturday’s French Open women’s final, most of the talk in the sports world has been centered around American Pharoah (sic) becoming the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown after winning the Belmont Stakes and the heroic efforts of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers sans Kyrie Irving AND Kevin Love – and rightfully so. Hell not many folks were even talking about the men’s French Open final.
So of course the obvious question is the following: why is Serena not getting the love that she deserves?
Not to be over-complicated, but it’s a question that yields many answers.
First of all, tennis is not nearly as popular in this country as much as it used to.
Anyone remember the golden years of the 1980s and 90s? Evan Lendl, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras (who I think is better than the overrated Roger Federer), Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, and Jim Courier? And how about Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, and Monica Seles on the women’s side? That’s a who’s-who of tennis whose talents we may never see again.
I also think that the lack of American stars has a lot to do with, especially on the men’s side. I mean if we are honest about it, all we knew of and cheered wildly for was Andy Roddick.
Secondly, we all take Serena for granted.
After all, she is SUPPOSED to win. What active player can consistently take out Serena?
Maria Sharapova? She is only 2-16 lifetime against Serena.
Big sister Venus? WAAAAY past her prime, and even Serena dominates her as of late.
Li Na and Sloane Stephens? Please.
And that leads to the third reason: the field is not deep. At least Serena once had to deal with the likes of big sis Venus, Martina Hingis, Lindsey Davenport, and Justine Henin while she was ascending into her prime.
Who is there now? The combined total of Grand Slam winners from active players is 21. Again, Serena alone has 20. The most remarkable thing about that is Serena will be 34 years old in September and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Is it fair to hold the lack of depth in women’s tennis over Serena’s head? Hell no, but it is what it is.
A third reason is people tend to hate on her attitude, or what they perceive as an attitude problem.
I remember so many people would knock her and Venus for not being humble enough. “Show more class when winning!” people would yell at their TV screens whenever Serena would bag another win.
Memo to delusional sports fans: do you REALLY think most superstar athletes are humble? Do y’all think Michael Jordan was humble? How about Agassi and Sampras? And don’t even think about Kobe Bryant.
That’s life. Get over it.
The last reason is a sensitive one, and may only have to do with a scintilla of the issue, not one that many people would feel comfortable with: Serena is not a blond-haired white woman.
Don’t believe me?
Look at how many endorsement opportunities Sharapova has. Now Sharapova is a beautiful (and quite lovely) statuesque blond Russian with a marketable personality. However, she’s won only five Grand Slam titles, 15 less than Serena.
And what is my biggest trump card of all, look at the number of endorsement opportunities Anna Kournikova has (or at least had). Her net worth was once upwards of $50 million!
As with Sharapova, Kournikova is a very beautiful woman. Hell bump that, the woman was fine as hell. But you know what, Kournikova did not win as many Grand Slam singles titles as Serena. In fact, she didn’t win ANY such titles.
It’s unfortunate thing to say or even postulate, but could you imagine Serena as a blond-haired white woman (and American) winning Grand Slam singles titles year after year in this day and age? There would be so many tribute sites to her on the web, the damn internet would stay broke. Serena would be on so many one-handed magazine (dudes know what I am talking about) covers, she’d make EVERY men’s magazine some money.
The sports world may not hype Serena as much as she deserves, and that’s a damn shame. And the day she walks away from tennis will be the day sports fans will miss her immensely.