Serena Williams won Wimbledon again this morning. Again again. Again for the sixth time. Serena Williams won Wimbledon again this morning, meaning she won her fourth Grand Slam in a row, and her 21st Grand Slam overall. Serena Williams won her 21st Grand Slam overall this morning, meaning she has won the same number of Grand Slams as every other active tennis player combined. Serena Williams won Wimbledon again this morning; she is the greatest athlete in America.
No, I will not slow my roll.
You want to compare her to LeBron James, right? You want to compare her to Tom Brady. You want to compare her to J.J. Watt and Clayton Kershaw and Peyton Manning. That’s cool, that’s cool. I’ll make those comparisons for you.
Tom Brady sure did carry the Patriots to another Super Bowl victory last year, but his QB index was below Aaron Rodgers’, and none of that even matters because he was cheating all season long. J.J. Watt racked up over 20 sacks and even caught some touchdown passes last season, but the Texans didn’t make the playoffs. Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks in history, but where’s the hardware? Kershaw is the reigning MLB National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner; his stats are great. But he cracked hard in the NLDS last year, is allowing runs to get on the board this season, and didn’t even make the All-Star team this year.
LeBron is a wizard. Yes, he is the King. But he’s 1-3 in his last four NBA Finals. He has accomplished as much as Serena in his long career, for sure, but he’s done it with the help of a team, and his age is showing.
Fine, I’ll do individual sports, too. I’ll talk to you about Michael Phelps. The dude has 22 Olympic medals. TWENTY-TWO! He’s the most decorated Olympian ever. Phelps competed in the 2008 Olympics and the 2012 Olympics, and then he announced his retirement. He has since said he’ll swim again at the international level, but who knows how that will go? He’s technically an active athlete, but we haven’t seen him on an international stage since 2012.
Serena won her first Grand Slam in 1999 and her most recent Grand Slam this morning. That’s 16 years of dominance (and the longest gap between women’s Grand Slam titles in history). Two years ago, she became the oldest person to hold the No. 1 spot, and she’s won four more Grand Slams since then. She has won eight major championships in her 30s.
LeBron can’t say that. Phelps can’t say that.
Serena only needs one more Grand Slam title to tie Steffi Graf for the most championship wins in the Open Era. If she wins the U.S. Open later this summer, she’ll be the second player in history to win all four Slams in a single season. (Graff did it in ’88.) She has four Olympic gold medals. She has won more prize money than any woman in sports history.
And here’s the other thing: Serena has dominated the world of tennis for two generations against a backdrop of racist, sexist rhetoric and commentary from sports fans, sports media, and the general pop culture world at large. Her body is sexualized and scrutinized more than any other athlete in the modern sports world (as is almost always the case with black women). Her powerful presence is interpreted through a dehumanizing racist lens. Serena is chastised, mocked, and derided for things we celebrate and honor about John McEnroe (on-court intensity), Andre Agassi (off-court branding), Boris Becker (aggression), Roger Federer (arrogance), and on and on.
She has done it longer and better than any active athlete in America. She has done it all by herself. She has done it right in the middle of a perfect storm of misogyny and racism. And she is showing no signs of slowing down.
Serena Williams won a Wimbledon title again this morning. Serena Williams is the greatest athlete in America.