Serena Williams the best ever? Why not?

Isn’t it just time that rank Serena Williams near or at the top of the list when we start to talk about the greatest female tennis players of all-time?

If many can get over the now and then tantrums, her fashion, her body shape (thanks New York Times) and yes, even her black skin, and just look at what she’s doing and at the age she is doing it, frankly there’s few others to talk about.

At age 33, when most of the people who started playing with her are retired and taken on other careers, Williams is playing the best tennis of her life and playing it on a level that few can manage to compete. In July’s Wimbledon finals, she was down to Garbine Muguruza 4-2 in the first set before roaring back to win 6-4, 6-4 to now own all four major crowns at once – for the second time in her career.

Yes, many call it a “Serena Slam” because she has not won all four majors – Australian, French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open – in the same year, but that’s ridiculous semantics that dampens the astonishing achievement, but that’s another column for another day.

She still has a shot to do it at the U.S. Open this year to become the first player since Steffi Graf won all four in one year in 1988. It appears Graf is the only person that stands in her way of being considered the greatest ever. Williams is one off her Majors record and could tie it in New York.

To show how dominate she has been, Williams is ranked No. 1 in the world and has beaten the No. 2-ranked player in the world, Maria Sharapova, 18 of the last 20 times they’ve played.

“(Williams) is the oldest player, male or female, to ever be world number one; 16 years on from her first Slam triumph, aged just 17, she has won the first three of the year with her 34th birthday just eight weeks away,” wrote Tom Fordyce, of BBC Sports, who wondered aloud why Williams is not revered the same way many do Roger Federer, or Martina Navratilova and Sharapova for that instance.

“To put that into context, there were 12 years between Martina Navratilova’s first Grand Slam win and her last. It was the same for Steffi Graf. Margaret Court stretched her peak out to 13, yet she never won another beyond 31 years old,” Fordyce continued.

Yet, has there been any player that has had to deal with the negatives Williams have faced over the years. From the criticism about her father Richard Williams, the sexism of being called with her sister Venus “the Williams brothers” by a Russian tennis official, to the racism – Williams just ended a 14-year boycott of Indian Wells this year because of past treatment there – she has endured as much off the court as on.

“Serena has shown that you can be tough, you can be fearless, you can be courageous, you can be a competitor and you can still be a woman,” former world No. 1 player and three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, told BBC Sports of Williams, calling one of her greatest opponents.

“She was the most intimidating opponent I ever faced. With some players you would be intimidated by their record or their game, like with Steffi Graf. But with Serena you were scared by absolutely everything – her passion, her attitude, how she serves, the power she has, her athleticism. She plays tennis at a different level. She is better than any player on tour even if she is only at 80 percent – and I think she would still win a ton of matches at just 50 percent,” Davenport continued.

Then when you throw in the fact her career could have ended in 2006 when she slipped to No. 95 in the world after losing her form and 2010 after suffering a pulmonary embolism, it makes her current streak that much more remarkable. Then to look at three of the top players she played when at 17 — Martina Hingis, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters – have all retired and playing sparingly at best, leaves little doubt that Williams is, well, not like the rest of us.

No one really knows how much longer Williams can keep this dominance up. But if you can finally just look at the talent she is, does Serena really have to do anything else to be considered the best?

Advertisements

NABJ President Frowns at New York Times Serena Willliams “Body” Story

Bob Butler

BY BOB BUTLER, NABJ PRESIDENT

Here we go again.

Another media company is apologizing for publishing or broadcasting racially insensitive comments, then going right back to business as usual.

It’s happened with television stations, radio stations and newspapers, but this latest case of poor journalism is by The New York Times, long regarded as one the United States’ newspapers of record.

During Wimbledon, The Times ran a story by Ben Rothenberg that explored whether other women tennis players wanted to have bodies like Serena Williams.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)believes journalists are supposed to be accurate but the article implied that Williams does not look feminine because she has a muscular body. The article has been pilloried on the Internet.

There is more than one standard of beauty and to even broach this subject in this manner is at best disingenuous and insulting.

Throughout her career Williams has been described in any number of unflattering ways, including being called “manly.”

Rothenberg did NOT do that, but he should know that writing about Williams’ body invites the haters – or racists – to call her anything but a championship tennis player who arguably is the best athlete in the world – male or female.NABJ, African Americans and women are tired of it.

In an apology of sorts, Times public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote that Rothenberg “…. sees some of the ways that the article could have been approached differently.”

Whether it’s television anchors using the long-outdated term “colored” or other racially offensive terms, a meteorologist messing up the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name or a newspaper referring to an African-American hockey player as the “dark guy,” this can’t keep happening.

It is not OK to make these kinds of mistakes and then think issuing an apology or disciplining the guilty party makes everything alright.

Longtime media critic – and NABJ member – Eric Deggans says many news outlets seem to forget that, because it’s 2015, they can’t possibly have the same problems with race and gender coverage that they had 10 or 15 years ago.

“The other thing we know at NABJ is that covering race and gender well is a constant process,” he said.

“In the same way you can never stop striving to be accurate, you can never stop working hard to fairly cover race and gender issues – which includes maintaining a diverse newsroom and paying particular attention to stories touching on these themes,” Deggans added.

You can kind of understand slips of the tongue on live television or radio. But The Times admits four editors signed off on the story. It’s hard to believe that not one of them saw this as being offensive to African Americans and women. Were any of these editors people of color?

That might be the problem and it’s only a matter of time before something else offensive is broadcast or published.

An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide. For additional information, please visit, http://www.nabj.org.