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Serena Williams redefined greatness. For that, she stands alone. 

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The impact she had on those who came after her should define the American’s legacy, not her numerous achievements on the court.

There have been 23 Grand Slam singles titles. 16 Grand Slam titles in doubles. Four Olympic gold medals World No. 1 for 319 weeks. But defining Serena Williams’ legacy solely on the basis of her achievements on the court would be the biggest mistake anyone could make. To miss the symbolism of a young black woman from Compton, California entering a sport where she did not meet any of the traditional norms, only to transform and redefine it, would be to miss the point.
Serena Williams provided yet another reminder of her enduring legacy on Friday, as she lost 5-7, 7-6, 1-6 to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in the final singles match of her career at the US Open. Serena Williams and everything she accomplished are best described as fierce.

Serena Williams

She is a fierce competitor, so much so that she refused to give up even in her final match. Serena was down 1-5 after three hard-fought sets as Tomljanovic served for the match, and there was a long way back. But, true to form, the American went on to save four match points in an attempt to save the game, in one of the greatest single games ever played at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Serena could have been beaten on talent throughout her career, no matter how difficult it may have appeared. She could be defeated by faster serve speeds or cleaner ball striking. But never on the battlefield. Never rely on attempting or competing.
She is adamantly defiant. In the tradition of gendered and racist stereotypes. In the manner in which her appearance was discussed racially – on the back pages of newspapers and in living rooms around the world. In terms of criticism, she was chastised for being too aggressive on court, too assertive of her dominance, and too expressive in her disappointment, while her male counterparts got away with far worse.

Despite her physical limitations, she won the Australian Open while 9 weeks pregnant in 2017 and later returned to tour to reach three Grand Slam finals despite a complication in her pregnancy causing a pulmonary embolism – the second in eight years.

Sally is fervently unusual. Both of her on- and off-court actions. Amidst the tropes that surrounded her look, Serena accepted it and inspired young black girls from around the planet to do so. Serena’s fashion choices and tennis outfits always raised eyebrows among conservatives and traditionalists, but in fighting for women’s rights to wear whatever they want on the court, she shed light on a hugely important issue.

Williams’ decision to play in a catsuit after blood clots during her pregnancy continued to affect her was banned and criticised by authorities in 2018. Madison Brengle of the United States told Eurosport that her decision saved her career. “She changed the rules so we could play in our pants.” I had Melanoma and would be unable to work

.Serena Williams

While most athletes and tennis players will go out by sounding out the drum roll and initiating a big farewell – there’s one coming soon from a certain Swiss – but Serena claimed she will be “evolving from tennis” in a Vogue article she wrote announcing her retirement. Rather than going into long essays of gratitude, she shed light on how she is being made to choose between having a family and continuing her tennis career. Perhaps fitting that it came in Vogue rather than a sports publication or in an interview with a favourable journalist, or an even drabber carefully-worded social media update.

She is fiercely loyal. To her family whom she credits for much of her success. To her daughter whom she said is a big reason why she made the decision to hang up her racquet. To her sister under whose shadow she arrived on tour – Venus dominated the pair’s early rivalry, she came on tour first, jumped up the rankings first, and was regarded as the more talented player – but whom Serena never stopped admiring. To her culture, which she promoted in her on-court outfits, in music videos, and on runways of fashion shows. To her causes, for which she earlier advocated, and later supported. Today, 80% of the business that her venture capital firm invests in are black-owned or owned by women.

Serena Williams redefined excellence. She is the only one who can do it. Totally alone

Serena redefined what it meant to be a great athlete by fighting the battles she fought, facing the criticism she faced, representing her culture, gender, and race, and introducing a new brand of tennis alongside Venus – with powerful serves and baseline aggression – that became the norm on the women’s tour. Her legacy will be defined not by how many titles she won, but by the path she paved for those who came before and after her. Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka, Sloane Stephens, and Maria Sharapova are examples. Likewise, Lewis Hamilton, Tiger Woods, and Allyson Felix

.In a now infamous interview from 1992, Serena was asked whom she would want to emulate if she became a tennis player. “I would want other people to be like me,” she replied, with a huge smile on her face. She was 11 years old at the time. In the aftermath of what was the final singles match of her career, 30 years later, it is fair to say she succeed

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