After defeating Elena Vesnina in the Wimbledon semi-finals, a reporter asked Serena Williams for her thoughts on being considered “one of the greatest female athletes of all time.” Serena’s response was, “I prefer the words ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time.’” After a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam victory, Serena is irrefutably one of the greatest athletes of our time.
On Saturday, Serena Williams won her 7th Wimbledon title defeating Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3. Williams’ 22nd victory tied the elusive open era grand slam record of Steffi Graf.
Williams acknowledged this milestone by raising both of her arms and gesturing two fingers on each hand to signify “22.” “It was awesome,” Williams told GMA’s Lara Spencer post-victory. “I mean, I still really can’t believe it — that I have 22 titles … I still get a little lost for words when I think about it.” Serena, who has dealt with an incredible amount of racism and misogyny in the public eye, triumphantly raised a single fist in the air which was reminiscent of Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics. Whether intentional or not, that gesture serves as a symbol of solidarity in the face of despair.
This match was no walk in the park; in fact, Kerber had beat Williams in the Australian Open. Williams, who described herself as feeling “cool and calm and collected” during the finals match, quite literally served one of her best games to date. Kerber explained post-game, “Serena was serving unbelievable today. She really played an unbelievable match…I think I didn’t lose the match. I think she won it.”
The story doesn’t end there. A few hours later, Serena joined big sister Venus Williams to win the women’s doubles championship for the 6th time. The Williams sisters now have 14 Grand Slam doubles titles together. Why win one Grand Slam title in a day when you can win two?
Serena’s display of athletic prowess and power was a welcomed ray of hope in the midst of recent tragedies.