As Serena Williams approaches Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams, some rightfully wish Court were already an afterthought.
Williams, a six-time champion of the Flushing, Queens, major, made history Tuesday as the first tennis player to reach 102 single wins at the U.S. Open. In sealing her opening match against fellow American Kristie Ahn, Williams surpassed Chris Evert for the all-time lead in Open match victories.
“I don’t think I appreciate it enough, which is unfortunate,” Serena said about the milestone. “But I’m in the middle of a Grand Slam, so it’s not the time to be focused on records when I’m thinking about winning a tournament.”
Williams is one Grand Slam title away from tying Court’s record of 24. The 38-year-old has been chasing her 24th trophy since 2017, after the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian. She hasn’t won a major since her daughter was born.
Which brings up the question: With most European and Australian top players bowing out of the U.S. Open because of COVID-19, including Grand Slam champions Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, is this now Williams’ last best shot at catching Court?
Williams has been in four Grand Slam finals since giving birth to her daughter, and has lost all four. She hasn’t won a Slam since 2017’s Aussie Open. Simona Halep and many top tier players who have beaten her in those Grand Slam finals will not be in Flushing. This is the longest span Williams has gone without winning a major since 2002.
And let’s not forget she turns 38 later this month.
Still even if Williams ties Court with grand slam victories this month, Court’s name will still be uttered in the same sentence as Williams.
In recent years, Court has become known more for her bigoted and discriminatory views of homosexuality and the LGBT community.
Court became an ordained Pentecostal minister after ending her career in 1977, emerging as a sharp opposer of LGBT rights and homosexuality. In December 2019, she falsely asserted the batshit-crazy claims that transgender children were the “work of the devil” and that women’s tennis was “full of lesbians.”
“The devil has entered the media, politicians, teachers and television,” Court said. “He wants to control people and influence their minds.”
Williams, on the other hand, has always carried herself with grace throughout the sport — even when people “try her.”
We all remember Serena’s snap back at the umpire during the 2018 U.S. Open final.
Williams has been an advocate for closing the gender pay gap, speaking out about the contrast in prize money between female and male tournament champions.
The way she runs up to fans after matches offering to sign any item passed in her direction, Williams has shown love to anyone who has shown her love and support, which rightfully pushes folks to think: “For the sake of moral representation, can Serena receive the GOAT title, already?”
Some folks have already given Williams the nod because they believe this era of tennis is far more competitive than when Court played.
They’re right; Williams is far superior to Court.
Both in tennis and in life.