Wimbledon 2015: We Should Be Talking More About Serena Williams

Last Sunday, just outside of Seattle, Jordan Spieth picked up his second consecutive major tournament win of the PGA Tour season, winning the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay when Dustin Johnson three-putted on 18.

Instantly, the “Could he? Would he? What would it mean if he did?” talk about winning all four majors in the same year began. It will pop back up every time he plays a tournament between now and The Open at St. Andrews, which is where this narrative will either go to die or gain further moment, even though everyone needs to just let the kid tee it up and enjoy when he does.

A couple weeks earlier on another continent, on a different surface, an athlete with a far more established track record of dominance accomplished a similar feat when Serena Williams defeated Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 to win her third French Open title and the 20th Grand Slam tournament of her illustrious career.

After beating Maria Sharapova in straight sets to win the Australian Open earlier in the year, Williams enters Wimbledon, which starts today, on the same Grand Slam trajectory as Spieth and yet the noise about “Could she? Would she? What would it mean if she did?” when it comes to the most dominant player on the WTA Tour’s 2-for-2 start in majors hasn’t been nearly as loud it has been for Spieth.

And it’s bullshit.

If Williams isn’t the best female tennis player of all-time, she’s at least in the conversation and has quite certainly been the best of the last decade. She’s four back of Margaret Court and two back of Steffi Graf, who won the Grand Slam (and an Olympic gold medal) in 1988. She’s made the most money of any female tennis player in history. She’s was first ranked No. 1 in the world on July 8, 2002 and she maintains that same position now 13 years later.

13 years. Still the best. Still not close. This is a woman with multiple “Career Slams” in singles and doubles. Multiple. In both. She’s got gold medals in both too.

Serena Williams is one of the most accomplished athletes of all-time and yet there is still nowhere near as much fanfare about her dominance and overall excellence as any number of men or the even latest wunderkind on the links.

Spieth has two majors and people are talking about “Is he the new Tiger?” Serena is knocking on Graf’s front door and everyone is like, “Oh great – Wimbledon is starting again!”

John Gorman wrote an excellent piece breaking down why Williams doesn’t get the credit she rightfully deserves at Medium and everything he argues is on point. Quick version: race and gender have a lot to do with it.

On the day the third Grand Slam of the season gets underway, there should be one story dominating the headlines: Serena’s Quest for a Grand Slam.

It should be first and it should be the focus until she either gets bounced or adds another Wimbledon title to her resume, at which point, the volume on the conversation should go up a couple more octaves, as she’d be heading to Flushing Meadows, where she’s a five-time champion and has won the last three U.S. Opens, with three down and one to go.

But that won’t be the case.

It will be a story, but probably not the story because Serena Williams is African-American and because Serena Williams is a woman and because fans and commentators would rather question Serena Williams’ commitment and effort and character than give her the praise she undeniably deserves.

Serena Williams’ attempt to win the Grand Slam is the only story that matters over the next fortnight at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club, even if everyone else tries to tell you otherwise.

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