By William ‘Bantu’ Irubor
Serena Williams reached her 10th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, and kept her bid alive for a record 23rd major title, with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Johanna Konta at the Australian Open on Wednesday. Her opponent in the semifinals, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who beat fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, had a much longer wait to get back to this stage at a major – nearly 18 years.
It’s the second time in the last two years that three women in their 30s have reached the semifinals at a major: Venus Williams, 36, Serena Williams, 35, and Lucic-Baroni, 34. Serena also reached the semifinals at the 2015 US Open, alongside 30-somethings Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci. “Thirties is the new 10,” Williams said after her match. “No matter what happens, somebody 34 or older will be in the final.”
The second-seeded Williams was tested by Konta in the second set when the British player broke her to go up 2-1. But Williams broke back at love to level the score at 3-all and saved another break point in her next service game before closing out the match.
Williams finished with 10 aces, but only connected on 45 percent of her first serves overall.
Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) has been ranked world No. 1 in singles on six separate occasions by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). She became the world No. 1 for the first time on July 8, 2002, and achieved this ranking for the sixth time on February 18, 2013. On the latter occasion, she held the ranking for 186 consecutive weeks, tying the record set by Steffi Graf for the most consecutive weeks as world No. 1 by a female tennis player. In total, she has been world No. 1 for 309 weeks, which ranks her 3rd in the Open Era among female tennis players. Williams’ accomplishments and success in professional tennis have led some commentators, players and sport writers to regard her as the greatest female tennis player of all time.
Williams holds the most major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined amongst active players. Her record of 38 major titles puts her fourth on the all-time list and second in the open era: 22 in singles, 14 in women’s doubles, and 2 in mixed doubles. She is the most recent female player to have held all four major singles titles simultaneously (2002–03 and 2014–15) and the third player to achieve this record twice after Rod Laver and Steffi Graf. She is also the most recent player, together with her sister Venus Williams, to have held all four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles simultaneously (2009–10).
Her total of 22 Grand Slam singles titles marks the joint record for the most Major wins by a tennis player in the Open Era, and is tied for second on the all-time list behind Margaret Court (24). She is the only tennis player to have won singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments. She is also the only tennis player to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades. She has won an all-time record of 12 Grand Slam singles titles on hardcourt. Williams holds the Open Era record for most titles won at the Australian Open (6) and shares the Open Era record for most titles won at the US Open with Chris Evert (6). She also holds an all-time record for the most singles matches won at the Grand Slams with 309 matches (through the 2016 US Open).
She has won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles with her sister Venus, and the pair are unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals. As a team, she and Venus have the third most women’s doubles grand slam titles, behind the 18 titles of Natasha Zvereva (14 with Gigi Fernandez) and the record 20 titles won by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver. Williams is also a five-time winner of the WTA Tour Championships in the singles division. Serena has also won four Olympic gold medals, one in women’s singles and three in women’s doubles—an all-time record shared with her sister, Venus.
The arrival of the Williams sisters has been credited with ushering in a new era of power on the women’s professional tennis tour. Serena Williams was the highest paid female athlete in 2016, earning $28.9 million in prize money and endorsements. In December 2015, she was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine.
Let us give three very hearty cheers to this phenomenal athlete. We might never see her kind again in the world of Tennis, least of all in this generation. As much as her family, friends and fans worldwide would love her to win this year’s Australian Open currently going on, not winning it would not put a dent on her stellar career thus far.