By Chris Chase
Serena Williams (Getty Images)
The world No. 1 won 11 titles and two Grand Slams.
Serena Williams finished 2013 with 11 titles, two Grand Slams, 78 overall wins and a decisive finish atop the WTA rankings. At 32, did the American tennis star just complete the greatest season of her career?
Two reasons it’s not Serena’s best year ever:
1. She failed to make the semifinals at two Grand Slams. Serena lost in the quarters of the Australian Open to Sloane Stephens and was stunned in the fourth round of Wimbledon by Sabine Lisicki. In both matches, she was up a break in a decisive set and appeared on the way to cruising into the next round, but failed to close in both. Over the past two seasons, the only person capable of beating Serena has been Serena.
2. In 2002, she won three Grand Slams. In 2013, Serena won two, a total she’s matched in four other years (2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012). The other tournaments are nice, but when discussing the greatest players ever, you don’t look at their Premiere Mandatory results. Grand Slams are the currency of tennis greatness and 3 > 2.
Five reasons it might be:
1. Serena’s 78 wins in 2013 are 20 more than she had in any other season. Twenty!
2. Her 11 tournament titles and 13 finals are the most of her career. (In 2002, she had eight and 11, respectively.) From 2010-2012, Serena won a total of 11 tournaments. Also, the 11 wins are the most for any WTA player since Martina Hingis had 12 in 1997. The last player to win more than 11 before Hingis was Steffi Graf in 1989.
3. Serena’s 95% winning percentage is the highest of her career, eking out the 94% she had with last year’s 58-4 mark.
4. She won in Miami, Madrid, Rome, Canada, Beijing and at the WTA Championships. That’s six wins in Mandatory Premiere and Premier 5 tournaments. In the past eight years, Serena won seven titles in those tournaments. She also took home her first French Open title in more than a decade.
5. Rankings points are arbitrary and confusing. But this isn’t: Serena had 13,260 rankings points in 2013. World No. 2 Victoria Azarenka had 8,046. The gap between Serena and Vika (5,014 points) is about the same as the one between Vika and world No. 16 Ana Ivanovic.
One reason it is absolutely, positively Serena Williams’ best year ever:
She’s 32 years old. Steffi Graf won one Grand Slam after turning 28 and retired almost immediately after turning 30. Chris Evert didn’t win a Slam after turning 31. Even the greatest older tennis player in women’s history, Martina Navratilova, could only tally two Grand Slams at 30, plus a career-capping Wimbledon title at 33.
Serena is 12 months away from being old enough to crack the top 10 list of oldest players to win a WTA title. At an age when the players she’s chasing down in the history books were either in the twilight of their careers or out of the game altogether, Serena is having a second prime.
For years, people said she wasn’t interested enough in tennis and was sacrificing her place in tennis history because of she wasn’t committed to the game. It seems that Serena knew what was best all along. Taking her foot off the throttle at 24 may have kept her fresh for her early-30s. At a time when other players are dialing back their schedules, Serena played the most matches of her career.
What Serena Williams is doing at her age is unprecedented. Many have dominated the game when they were young. None have been atop the tennis world like in their 30s like Serena.
Source: USA TODAY Sports
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.