Serena Williams lost at Wimbledon yesterday in the fourth round. Since cutting her foot on glass at a party last year she’s had several surgeries and almost lost her life to blood clots. Having only played one tournament prior to Wimbledon, it’s no huge surprise she didn’t win it all. What was surprising was her reaction to winning her first round match.
At the :28 second mark in the video Serena says, “I love tennis.” She’s a world class tennis player but this is the first time I’ve ever believed that she loves tennis. I always thought Serena, and her sister Venus, played because they were good at it not necessarily because they enjoyed it. By now everyone knows the story of Richard Williams getting the idea that he would have two daughters and train them to be tennis players. Venus and Serena were essentially bred to play tennis. Under Richard’s tutelage, they become young phenoms but they were never fully embraced by the tennis tour. Richard sheltered them and kept them separated from the rest of the stars, and his presence cast a shadow over the girls that it took years to try to overcome. They never played the full circuit and Serena has been famous for playing her way into shape in Grand Slam tournaments. It often seemed she used her injuries as an excuse to take breaks away from the sport. The Williams’ sisters have always talked about their interests outside of the sport. It was almost as if they wanted to use their stardom in tennis to springboard them into their other careers. Serena has tried acting, design, and even went to cosmetology school to study nails. Tennis seemed like nothing more than a job, not much different than the 9-5 that most of us toil through as a means to an end.
It’s refreshing to know that Serena loves the sport that she’s been a dominant figure in for more than a decade. But it seems sad that she’s come to this realization after having been forced out of it for so long. What’s worse is she seems to have recognized this as she approaches her 30th birthday, which is considered elderly by women’s tennis standards. One can only hope she turns this into determination to get back on top one last time before her tennis career is over. I sincerely hope she cares enough.