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Serena & Li Na: At the top of their games, not getting older, but getting better – Tola Adenle

March 30, 2014

Sports

These two young ladies have proved to the world that getting older does not mean not being able to compete with the young hot ones on the women’s circuit.

A few years ago, this blogger believed it was time for Serena to throw in the towel and call it a career, a stellar one even back then.  There had been the chair umpire affair from the Clijsters match-up at the US Open which showed a Serena yielding in to cheating by umpires more than she used to care.  She had really taken in more than a few knocks in that department over the years, including the Capriati affair.  No matter how long ago, both incidents will forever remain fresh in the minds of tennis lovers to be recounted.  Needless to say that the Clisters match-up took Serena to the mat and she had it out on the very partial umpire.  I’m not sure many outside tennis establishment remember the name of that chair umpire – I don’t – but Serena took her punishment (not without protesting) and set her focus on her goal which is now very clear to everybody: even or break as many as possible of the records set in the era of not-THAT-competitive women’s tennis. [I’ve been an ardent follower of the Tennis, especially the Ladies Game since 1973.]

When Richard Williams announced that those who were impressed at Venus’ skills at 14 should wait for her younger sister, Serena, the tennis world was aghast at his purported arrogance.  While Venus’ talent has garnered enough trophies to be the envy of even the hot shots just coming along in women’s tennis today, including five Wimbledons, Richard has not been wrong in picking the younger (by a little bit) Serena as the one who would wow the world.

Venus continues to compete but we all know it’s really no longer there as age has finally started to catch up with her game but with Serena as with Li Na, we now keep on wondering: how much longer can these ladies continue to keep the Azarenkas … at bay as well as deprive Maria of her chance to rule women’s tennis as many used to feel was her destiny?  She’s caught between the older ladies who know her game very well and who have beaten her often enough to take her confidence away which is unfortunate because Maria has one of the most awesome serves in the game – a veritable weapon in the women’s game – AND between the lower twenties who will outlast her in the game to enable her have shots at breaking existing records.

With impressive grand slams in her kitty and very lucrative endorsement accounts, Maria is definitely no Anna Kournikova who never had her name engraved on any championship trophy before calling it quits to mine her looks and Maria still has additional slam or two – I’d like to eat those words – but she may not be able to take a sparse grand slam three years and may retire before thirty to continue to enjoy patronage of some of the accounts that she now represents.

Na?  She has opened everybody’s eyes to the East, the Far East, that is, and her longevity is definitely helping the game in China where millions must be dreaming of being the next Li Na.

 

 

My favorite photograph out of Miami – FIRST, BELOW – where she and Serena just finished 2nd and 1st – matching their world rankings – is one of my favorite tennis shots of all time.  The eyes show camarederie and genuine respect – if not affection – and no animosity as is common and can often be deciphered in the pictures of trophy presentations where champions and runner-ups seem  prodded to smile.

 

SERENA AND NA60

Two thirty-something stars shine brightly after the Miami Open.  What age; bring the young ones on! [Photo Credit:  wtatennis.com]

 

Serena at the beach with cup

What a back-drop for a very happy winner!

 

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2014.  2:20 p.m.  (GMT)

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