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Found 2 results

  1. Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Serena Williams as the Greatest Of All Time? Olympic tennis great Serena Williams' Australian Open run earlier this month certainly inspired talk on her status as a Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.) contender. While I generally don't pay much attention to such discussions - too many variables in such different eras to be fair - the chatter inspired me to revisit the HBO Sports documentary mini-series Being Serena from 2018. Produced in part with Williams' business partner IMG Entertainment, Being Serena was never going to be an in-depth, impartial look at one of history's greatest athletes. But it is a revealing reminder of her unique position today and drive. Too often, we see a star athlete or celebrity as one dimensional, as just the person on the court or on stage. Williams has surely been subject to this - having seen her win 23 Grand Slam singles titles, 14 Grand Slam doubles titles (out of 14 finals!), 7 WTA Tour Championship titles, and 4 Olympic gold medals, we had been lulled into a sense of her invincibility. But Being Serena shows that Williams is human, after all, perhaps even setting us up to temper expectations going forward.Being Serena shows us Williams facing real world, outside of tennis, moments from a roughly 15-month period starting with her early 2017 pregnancy announcement to child birth, to subsequent grave medical concerns, and her wedding. There is a refreshing quality seeing her face these life events. She has legitimate concerns aside from the playing court, and she faces them with as any of us would - at times emotional and vulnerable. No matter that the documentary comes across as too polished for some critics. What we do see is earnest and sincere.Seeing her in this human light actually does support Williams as the G.O.A.T. Coming back to elite competition, in serious contention to build upon her 23 Grand Slam titles...who else has been that strong to come back from such a complicated birth and perilous recovery so well? It's a unique, daunting challenge fit for a fierce competitor. Note when her husband Alexis jokingly suggests their daughter's potential as a Grand Slam winner years in the future, Williams is whip-quick with a "not if I'm still playing" retort. Brash, sure...but it should not be unexpected from someone as career-determined as she is.Between her return in May 2018 and today, she's made four Grand Slam finals. Four! Never mind that she hasn't won one of them, just having the tenacity to make it through to four finals - and this last Australian semifinals - would be a beyond outstanding record for anyone. And she's largely done it on her terms, juggling motherhood and marriage while on the road. It's a unique challenge, it should noted, to female athletes.She doesn't need a 24th title to justify her legacy (though I am rooting for it). The fact that she's still sharing her tennis with us should a joy. In retrospective, Being Serena helps us to appreciate just how special a competitor Williams is. Here's hoping she provides us more highlights still. A version of this opinion piece appears on Follow for more on Olympic sports athletes.
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