The world number 1 is looking to win a 23rd Grand Slam title at the US Open, which would enable her to overtake Steffi Graf and hold the record alone. On the 22 trophies won until now, some of them have been more memorable than others. Here is a top 10, as a form of hommage to Serena Williams.
The first victory : US Open 1999
It’s the foundation stone of an outstanding career. US Open 1999 : a women’s tennis from another time, with the presence of Monica Seles, Mary Pierce, Arantxa Sanchez, Conchita Martinez or Jana Novotna. White pearls in her hair and a baby face, Serena Williams is seeded at the 7th spot and manages the perfect tournament, winning two consecutive 100% American duels against Seles in the quarter finals and Davenport in the semi, before dominating the world number 1 Martina Hingis in the final, 6/3 7/6. A legend is born. And she’s not even 18.
The changeover victory : Roland-Garros 2002
We would have to wait almost three years to see Serena winning a second Grand Slam title. At the time, the younger of the Williams’ sisters remained in the shadows of Venus, the first of the two to reach the world number 1 spot at the start of the 2002 season. At the French Internationals, Jennifer Capriati is however seeded at the number 1 spot. Serena defeated her in the semi-final, before joining her sister for a second fratricidal duel in a Grand Slam final. The year before, at the US Open, Venus had logically won. But during this 2002 edition of Roland-Garros, Serena didn’t miss the chance of battling against the odds : in the end, the seed number 3 won this unique duel against the seed number 2, 7/5, 6/3. A victory in the form of a changeover for Serena Williams, Venus being left to take pictures of her sister during the post-match ceremony.
The victory of the confirmation : US Open 2002
This US Open 2002 is the first Grand Slam tournament which Serena Williams enters with the world number 1 sign on her back, and the status of the huge favorite. One year earlier, she lost the final against Venus. This time, for another battle between sisters, she didn’t miss the opportunity of unleashing her powerful shots, and won 6/4 6/3. The pink bandana she wore that year was a lucky charm : it was the third Grand Slam title won in 2002, after Roland-Garros and Wimbledon. She even managed to achieve a Grand Slam over two season by winning her first Australian Open in 2003. In Flushing Meadows, daddy was this time in charge of taking the pictures.
The resurrection victory : Australia 2007
Between 2004 and 2006, Serena Williams lived a spell in the wilderness. Between injuries, and sickness, she rarely found her ideal weight and slowly walked away from the courts to come closer to TV sets and the shady world of show-business. At the time, a quick ending of her tennis career was even predicted. In 2005, she only won one tournament (Melbourne) and none in 2006. At the start of the Australian Open 2007, Serena Williams was ranked at the 81st spot, but suddenly managed to wake up from her torpor. Full of rage, the spoiled little girl transformed into a warrior, with her shots hurting her opponent, until the very last : as a symbol, she faced the new star, the tsarina Maria Sharapova, who she destroyed 6/1 6/2. A true resurrection.
The victory of the consecration : US Open 2008
To definitely establish her big return, Serena Williams had to win the US Open again, at home. A performance she managed to achieve during the 2008 season, during a highly emotional edition : in front of her whole family and the Williams « clan », the champion didn’t concede a single set during the whole tournament. She defeated Venus in the quarter finals, Dinara Safina in the semis and Jelena Jankova in the final (6/4 7/5), before releasing some pressure with a little victory danse, appearing happy and relieved. This victory enabled her to reconquer the world number 1 spot, five years after having left the throne.
The most tenacious victory : Wimbledon 2009
Just like in Australia in 2003 and in 2005, Serena Williams won at Wimbledon a major tournament after having had to save match points. In London during the 2009 season, it’s during the semi-finals that the battle was the most relentless : against Elena Dementieva, the duel lasted 2h45 ! A record for an epic win, 6/7 7/5 8/6. In comparison, her victory in the final against…Venus, again, almost looked like a formality (7/6 6/2). It was her third title at Wimbledon, six years after the second.
The most « Higlander » victory : Australie 2010
In Melbourne in 2010, Serena Williams achieved the perfect tournament : a walk in the park during the first rounds, Azarenka defeated in the quarter-final, before putting a little more effort to defeat Li Na in the semi-final, before dominating the revenant Justine Hénin in the final (6/4 3/6 6/2). With a 12th major tournament won, she matched Billie Jean King’s record. Above all, she became the second champion in history, after Martina Navratilova, to win Grand Slam tournaments over three different decades ! Highlander with a racquet and yellow tennis balls for ammunition.
The most accomplished victory : Roland-Garros 2013
If there was only one Grand Slam victory to remember, it could maybe be this one : Roland-Garros 2013, a flawless triumph, an unquestioned and unquestionable domination. In the semi-final, Serena walked over Sara Errani by defeating her 6/0 6/1 in 51 minutes. The big show was for the final : a victory 6/4 6/4 over a Maria Sharapova at the top of her game, ending the match with a 198 km/h ace. A powerful serve, outstanding legwork, the American’s level is described as « almost perfect » by the Daily Telegraph’s correspondent Simon Briggs. Eleven years after her first triumph at Roland-Garros, she’s won it again on the Parisian clay.
The most difficult victory : Roland-Garros 2015
The third win in Paris was the hardest to conquer for Serena Williams. In 2015, she battled through hard-fought 3 set victories and had a difficult time reaching the final, where she faced the revelation of the tournament, Lucie Safarova. Favorite for the win, the American finally had to battle for more than 2 hours before clinching the win (6/3 6/7 6/2). Difficulties which she explained during her press conference, telling how she had to fight a big flu during the whole fortnight : « It was the hardest Grand Slam to win. Generally, when you’re ill, you’ve just caught a cold, but when you have the flu, your whole body is aching. That’s what I had to endure. »
The latest victory : Wimbledon 2016
It has become an obsession : holding the record of the highest number of Grand Slam tournaments won to definitly become the biggest champion in the history of tennis. A huge challenge for Serena Williams, as her opponents seem to get rid of their complexes. At 34, almost 35, Serena started this 2016 season by two defeats in two finals of a major tournament : against Angelique Kerber in Melbourne, and against Garbine Muguruza in Paris. Not enough to trouble the one who’s still world number 1, who set things right in Wimbledon by defeating Angelique Kerber 7/5 6/3. A personal revenge and a matched record : 22 Grand Slam titles now for Serena, just like Steffi Graf. Only the 23rd is missing, to become the unique holder of the most prestigious record in tennis. This year at the US Open ?