Williams is clearly the greatest of her era, but after dominating the U.S. Open a month after the Olympics and Wimbledon, she is making a run at the greatest of all time.
Serena Williams has already made it clear that she is by far the best female tennis player of her generation. At this point she is staking her claim to being the greatest of all time, and at the rate she is going, she’s making it difficult to argue for anybody else.
Williams dominated the field on her way to the finals at the U.S. Open. She needed to win 64 games over six matches to reach the finals, and she did it without losing a single set, and her opponents only won 19 games against her. Many of her opponents were simply trying to prolong the matches past an hour. The ones who did took that as some sort of victory, because they knew that they had no chance to beat the woman who just came off of a Wimbledon championship and an Olympic gold medal.
Even with the greatest players, there are matches where they do not play their best, but they have to reach deep down and pull out a victory, and that is what Williams did against top seeded Victoria Azarenka. Williams won 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, and in the third set she had to overcome being broken twice by Azarenka, which resulted in Williams being down 5-3, and Azarenka served for the championship after Williams held serve.
Williams was able to play flawless tennis down the stretch, as she won the final four games of the match to take home her fourth U.S. Open title.
As good as Azarenka played, it was really Williams beating herself at times that made this match close. Williams scored on 44 winners, compared to only 13 for Azarenka. She also had 13 aces, while Azarenka had none. But Williams had 45 unforced errors, compared to only 28 for Azarenka, which was the major difference in the game when Azarenka was on the verge of winning the match.
Williams did not play her best, but it was still better than anything Azarenka, or any other womens tennis player, could have offered. At this point she is not competing with her current competition, but she is competing with history.
Williams won her first grand slam in 1999, when she was 17 years old. Now she is 31, and she has won titles over a 13-year period, which is a longer span than any other woman in the professional era, which began in 1968. Martina Navratilova held the mark at 12 years before Williams tied and passed her.
Williams may not be able to reach the all time record for most grand slam titles by a woman, but that does not mean that she cannot be considered the greatest ever because of the different eras. But one thing is for sure, put any of the greats up against her, and she wins more times than not.