Her one true love. . .Photo by Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
I had to run out the door after the women’s final, so this is a slightly belated congrats to the reigning Queen of Women’s Tennis, Serena Williams. She won the US Open women’s title today in a rare three sets final: 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. Her opponent, Victoria Azarenka played the kind of match that leads to a sigh and a cliche: they were both winners out there tonight.
This is Serena’s 15th major singles title. She’s now won the US Open in three different decades, with her first ever Major coming in New York in 1999 when she was still a teenager. She just has a few more to go to tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova’s 18 majors. Heck, why not shoot for Steffi’s 22?
But before we go too googly eyed, let’s take a moment to celebrate Victoria Azarenka. Though her winner count was nowhere near as high as Serena’s (13 to 44) she produced some memorable shots, including a fantastic running forehand down the line in the second set. More important, she manufactured some real drama – the kind that comes from fight, self-belief and seizing your chances and not from any antics between points (my heart did skip when Serena was called for that foot fault.) Bottom line, this match was good, clean fun that was worthy of the fans, worthy of an all time great like Serena and worthy of Vika, who proved that her No. 1 ranking is no fluke of fortune.
Back to Serena. Personally, I’ve been more and more enamored with her over the past few seasons, and this season I’m proud to be in full Serena fan mode. Serena’s never played better, smarter, cleaner or more powerful tennis than she has now, as a thirty-something, (quieter as well, anyone else notice she’s stopped grunting?) and the respect and love she has for the game – yes, despite the dramas at the US Open the last two years – is contagious. I loved this quote from her post-match presser:
“I feel so young and I’ve never felt more fit, excited or hungry. Event with this win I’m so excited to play my next Grand Slam and see what I can do. I just love this feeling and feel like it’s overdue. . .Right now, I’m so excited about it. I’m loving every moment.
“I’ll think about my legacy when I’m done. I have so much more I want to create for history.”
Victoria, a usually prickly character who won over the crowd both with her play and her gracious, heart-felt runners up speech, is also a big Serena fan. Here’s what she had to say about Williams in her post-match press conference:
“For me she’s the greatest player of all time. She took the game to the next level. As I said before, she makes me all the time to make sure that I’m taking my game, my personality, my physical aspect to the next level. So, you know, having few of the players like that in the women’s tour right now is something priceless, you know, something that you cannot take away. It’s the people who, you know, like Maria, like Petra those kind of girls, they always push me to be better. I mean, it’s great opportunity, so I have no regret. Today I was close. I’m going to have for sure another opportunity to make something better. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Seek and ye shall find well within your reach, Vika. After all, you were just two points away from victory today. As for us fans, it looks like we have the makings of a great 2013 on the women’s side.
Congrats also are due to US Open women’s doubles champs (and singles quarterfinalists) Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, who beat the team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka for the title this year.