Serena Williams, the greatest

For the Win

Serena Williams defeated Angelique Kerber on Saturday to win the Wimbledon women’s final.

It was Williams’ 22nd major title, tying her with Steffi Graf for the second-most all time behind Margaret Court. The way Williams has done this — through sustained greatness at one of the most competitive times in tennis history — has cemented her legacy as one of the greatest athletes to ever live.

Look at the final on Saturday, which Williams won in straight sets against Kerber. The final result of 7-5, 6-3 might suggest that Williams easily handled an overmatched opponent. I guess that’s true, but what the score doesn’t show is how unbelievably well Kerber played.

Kerber was phenomenal, matching ground strokes with Williams and serving well. She just wasn’t Serena. After the match, you could see it with Kerber. She knew she’d played well. She also knew there was no one on earth who was beating Williams today. She hugged Williams and thanked her. What else could she do?

Getty

Getty

For American tennis fans watching back home, Williams’ win was a needed one. After the week this country just had, seeing Williams standing triumphantly at centre court wasn’t just exciting, it was nourishing. It was uplifting.

We needed this. We needed it so much that when an image of Williams was caught after the match raising up a hand and closing her first, people seized on it as a political statement.

After the match, Williams told reporters that she hadn’t meant anything by it, though she was upset by what was happening back home. It was almost irrelevant whether or not she had meant to make an explicit political statement — by winning, she had made one implicitly. She had showed us greatness: an African American woman dominating on the pristine grass of Wimbledon, cementing her place in history.

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Serena Williams, the greatest

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