Serena Williams is again the Wimbledon ladies singles champion. She claimed her fifth singles title with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win over Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. Williams' latest championship victory at the All England Club and 14th major title overall not only ended a two-year tennis drought but a tumultuous off-the-court journey as well.
The last time Williams hoisted the Wimbledon championship trophy she was on top of the tennis world. This time her center court celebration was about much more than tennis. A few days after winning her fourth Wimbledon title in 2010, she cut both feet on broken glass as she left a restaurant in Germany. That led to two operations on her right foot and blood clots in her lungs, which led to needing to inject herself with a blood thinner. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, the injections caused blood under her stomach's skin, which required yet another procedure.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I’m definitely stronger. After two foot surgeries and blood clots, I just wanted to live. I wasn’t even thinking about playing tennis.”
So for all the accolades she’s getting and definitely deserves for this year’s title, she is proud to celebrate life more than tennis itself. “It wasn’t a great journey,” Williams said after her match.
She quoted a familiar saying, “ 'What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger' and I’m definitely stronger. After two foot surgeries and blood clots, I just wanted to live. I wasn’t even thinking about playing tennis.”
Imagine putting on the kind of show Williams put on this week after not knowing whether she’d ever grace the tennis court again, much less the center court of Wimbledon. Williams talked about lying on her couch for days not wanting to leave the house. She says she was depressed but knows beyond a doubt that she’s at her best when she’s playing tennis.
The last time Wimbledon had a women’s single champion in her thirties was 1990. Then 33-year old Martina Navratilova, a nine-time Wimbledon champion, saw her name on the winner’s board again. Navratilova was in the stands today alongside tennis greats, including Virginia Wade, to witness new age history. At 30-years old and the oldest women’s singles champion in 22 years, Williams showed no signs of slowing down.
Another Wimbledon champion, Chris Evert, called the match for ESPN. It was interesting to hear her give Williams such high praise after the match. “She might be the greatest women’s player that ever lived," said Evert. “She’s definitely the greatest player in the last 20 years.”
I haven’t played a match in years, but I use the lessons I learned on the courts of MacGregor Park daily. Lessons that included teamwork in what most think is an individual sport.
Not only has Williams’ game come full circle, so has the commentary about her entire tennis family. Evert credited Williams’ controversial father Richard for not only coaching both Venus and Serena to the top of the tennis world but for what he and their mother has instilled in them off the court as well. Imagine this – 10 of the last 13 Wimbledon women’s singles titles have been won by one of the Williams sisters. Now that is quite a stat and story.
On a personal note, it gave me great pride to watch Williams win her fifth title. This 30-year young woman from the courts of Compton continues to accomplish what so many only dream of doing. Having grown up on the courts of MacGregor Park in Houston’s Third Ward with tennis greats John Wilkerson, Zina Garrison and Lori McNeil, it’s always been clear to me that tennis is about much more than serves and volleys. I haven’t played a match in years, but I use the lessons I learned on the courts of MacGregor Park daily. Lessons that included teamwork in what most think is an individual sport.
When Williams accepted her 2012 trophy and raised it high above her head she did it with her parents, sisters and team of supporters on her shoulders. “I could never have gotten here without all of you,” an emotional Williams said. “Thank you, I love you all.”
After the match she complimented her opponent and asked the crowd to give Radwanska another round of applause. Not only was Williams grateful, she was also gracious in her victory.
Kim Davis is a seasoned journalist with nearly two decades of experience covering sports, news and politics in television, radio and print. She’s a talk show host, keynote speaker, media coach, entrepreneur and health and fitness enthusiast. If you have questions or comments for Kim or about “Chalk Talk,” you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.