“Billie – we’re tied!”
That was Serena’s best moment on the podium on Saturday night, sharing a laugh with Billie Jean King, who was ensconced in the stands. Serena’s 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Justine Henin in this year’s Australian Open final pulls her even with Billie Jean’s 12 Major singles titles. Five of her 12 have come Down Under, this year’s being her first Australian Open title in an even year and only the second time in her career when she’s defended a Major. This is significant only if she’s looking to catch up with the next best titlists, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who are tied at 18 each. Time to pick up the pace, ReRe!
Serena Williams in her post match presser: “I’m just really trying to enjoy the moment, and I feel really special that I was able to tie Billie Jean King. Because in my heart of hearts, I’ve been going for it and I haven’t been able to quite achieve it.”
But that’s enough about history and records past and future. Let’s take a cue from Serena and enjoy the moment. And what a moment this is for women’s tennis!
It wasn’t so much the shot making that made the match special, though there were plenty of great shots from both players. It was the excellence of the competition – the sense that these two women were equally prepared for a battle on ground they both could lay claim to. It was like a scene from a classic martial arts film: two white whiskered masters locked in mortal combat, bound by a code that makes them both brothers and enemies.
Here’s Serena’s take in her post-match presser: “It was definitely a tough match mentally and physically. I felt like we both were out there trying to kind of prove something. I think we both did at the end of the day.”
It’s hard to know who to cheer for in these situations. Both players wanted it, needed it, deserved it, fought for it. Which is why my allegiance flip flopped throughout the match, as I rooted for whichever warrior was taking the hardest kick to the gut. In the end, I just wanted the better player to win. And that’s what happened on Saturday night.
It wasn’t a perfect match – it was a professional one. Let’s hope these two wizened veterans continue to show us how it’s done!
What do you think?