Serena Williams has faced difficulties of all shapes, sizes and colors with a positive attitude. Perhaps she was preordained, by virtue of her given name, to have the ability to find inner calm in the face of adversity. Her determination and focus have everything to do with why she is still a contender in this year’s U.S. Open.
Serena and her older sister, Venus, were an anomaly when they burst onto the USTA circuit ten years ago. For starters, they were beautiful African-American women, muscular and awesomely strong. Also, they were insulated from the professional tennis circles by their father. Overbearing and even disturbing at times, Richard Williams had nonetheless managed to coach his talented daughters to super-stardom with his own rules, answering to nobody, and he obviously knew what he was doing.
Serena and Venus faced plenty of haters and doubters in their early years, maybe even still to this day. Skepticism, catcalls, and indifference if not antipathy from other players in the circuit was what they dealt with every day. But they almost always kept their cool, and I give them tons of credit for that. Relentlessly poked and prodded in interviews, they took the high road, in their soft-spoken way.
There was a famous incident a couple of years ago between Serena and a line judge. Serena lost it, and was fined accordingly. She is not perfect. If there are other examples of her losing her composure, though, I am not aware of them. Yes, her frustration sometimes gets the better of her, but she can psych herself back into the zone really well.
She’s had her ups and downs, plagued with a number of injuries, and missed several tournaments this year. Seeded #28, she came to the U.S. Open this year expecting no less of herself than when she was ranked #1. Fighting every step of the way, she has again showed her brilliance. Tomorrow she faces Carolyn Wozniacki in the semi-finals.
Serena, go out there and wow us again. I’m rooting for you.