Quite frankly, Serena Williams is mildly offended this topic is even open to debate, Reddit-style or in any other format.
“If I were a man,” she told Vanity Fair magazine, “then it wouldn’t be any sort of question.”
For Women of Team USA Week, let us count 14 reasons why Williams is the Queen of the Tennis Courts.
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1. Because in 2017 Williams not only became the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era at age 35, she also won her 23rd Grand Slam crown, a record in the Open Era. She surpassed Steffi Graf of Germany, who captured 22. Williams beat her older sister Venus 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Australian Open while regaining the world No. 1 ranking in the process.
In keeping with the family theme, Williams was in the family way. Unbeknownst to the public, she was seven or eight weeks pregnant during the Australian Open.
2. Because Williams gave birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on Sept. 1, 2017, and about 11 weeks later married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in a merger of the front page of the sports section with the “front page of the Internet.”
Yet, while Williams experienced fulfillment in her personal life, a competitive fire still raged within her.
She told Vogue magazine, “To be honest, there’s something really attractive about the idea of moving to San Francisco (where Reddit is headquartered) and just being a mom… But not yet.
“Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams. I’m well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It’s not a secret that I have my sights on 25 (Margaret Court’s overall record).”
3. Because she’s flaunting her “mom genes,” not mom jeans. “Actually, I think having a baby might help,” Williams added in the Vogue interview.
Williams said that when she is too anxious, she loses matches, but much of that anxiety disappeared when her daughter was born.
“Knowing I’ve got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don’t have to play another match,” she said.
Williams acknowledged that she doesn’t need money or titles or prestige. “I want them, but I don’t need them,” she said. “That’s a different feeling for me.”
4. Because after a 13-month break – and six months after giving birth to her daughter amid complications in which Williams survived a pulmonary embolism – she returned to full-blown competition on March 8.
Williams’ opener at the Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, serendipitously took place on International Women’s Day. Williams had tested the waters in December, appearing in an exhibition match in Dubai, then she played a Fed Cup doubles match for the United States against the Netherlands in February and the Tie Break Tens on March 5 in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
“I never questioned my return,” Williams said.
5. Because she is unranked, unseeded and undaunted as she returns to the tour. Williams defeated Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in her first match at Indian Wells, then went out in the third round, courtesy of Venus, who defeated her 15-months-younger sister 6-3, 6-4 for only the second time in nine years. Thanks to that showing, Serena climbed to No. 491 in the world
6. Because even when she lost in the first round of her next tournament, the Miami Open, to Naomi Osaka, the Japanese player told the media, “I don’t know if anybody knows this, but Serena is my favorite player.”
7. Because Williams has spent more than half of her life winning Grand Slams. Born Sept. 26, 1981, Williams won her first in September 1999 at the US Open at age 17, defeating Martina Hingis of Switzerland. Surgery and a blood clot slowed her down in her late 20s, but Williams has won 10 Grand Slams since turning 30.
A four-time Olympian, she has also won four Olympic gold medals – doubles titles with Venus in 2000, 2008 and 2012, and the singles gold in 2012.
Compare that to Roger Federer, whose 20 Grand Slam titles are a record for men. Federer was born Aug. 8, 1981, and claimed his first Grand Slam win at age 21. He has earned only one Olympic doubles gold and one singles silver for Switzerland.
8. Because she bestowed upon her daughter the middle name of Olympia – not Wimbledon, not Paris, not Melbourne and definitely not Flushing Meadows. And the baby is called Olympia, to distinguish her from her father, who is also named Alexis.
Williams prides herself on her Career Golden Slam – finally winning the Olympic gold medal in 2012 in London to add to her previous Grand Slam victories in the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
9. Because Williams has also won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, 72 WTA singles titles, 23 WTA doubles titles and is approaching nearly 800 professional singles wins. She’s amassed more than $85 million in prize money.
10. Because she is pulling out all the stops this year. Williams is expected to return in May for the Madrid Open, followed by Rome, the French Open, Wimbledon, a hard court event yet to be determined in August, the US Open and the WTA Finals if she qualifies.
Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, calls this “the biggest challenge” of her career.
“She knows that coming back might take some time,” he told WTAtennis.com “but her level of expectation is high as always. There are three Grand Slams left this season. They will be her three main goals for 2018.”
11. Because Williams has the gravitas NBC sought in a narrator for “1968,” the 90-minute documentary film about the Olympic Games Mexico City 1968. Those Games took place in a politically-charged climate.
“The stories of what these athletes endured before, during and after Mexico City are both inspiring and heart-breaking,” said Jim Bell, president, NBC Olympics Production and Programming. “And we are honored to have Serena Williams as our guide for this extraordinary work.”
12. Because she started the Serena Williams Fund, is a global Goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, and together with Venus founded the Yetunde Price Resource Center, which is named after their eldest sister who was killed by gun violence. Williams wore a Serena gold-toned “S” pin, with proceeds to support the center, which raises awareness and money for people affected by violence in the community.
Williams also partnered with the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation to build a school in Jamaica and has funded and opened two schools in Africa.
13. Because she gave her baby daughter a head start. Nearly eight weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open, Williams credits Olympia with “Grand Slam Titles: 1.”
14. Because she wore bedazzled Nike tennis shoes when she married Ohanian in a “Beauty and the Beast”-themed wedding in New Orleans attended by Beyoncé.
Of her three beautiful gowns, Williams said, “I felt like a princess and superwoman all at once.”
And Ohanian posted on Instagram, “You are the greatest of all time, not just in sport – I’m talking about as a mother and as a wife.”
And there you have it.