When this years Australian Open started Serena Williams’ mother said she was rusty. Well, two weeks and a championship later the rust appears to have fallen off. Let’s just hope it stays off. Judging by her celebration and the look on her face after she hit the championship point Serena Williams was ecstatic and relieved about her 6-1, 6-2 straight-set destruction of Maria Sharapova the world’s number one player. The demolition confirmed once again that Serena Williams at her best simply cannot be beaten by any of today’s top females. But we also know that a Serena out of shape and unfocused can be beaten by most of those same players.
Injuries and apparent disinterest nearly robbed Serena and her fans of this sweet comeback. The last time she won a tournament of any kind was two full years ago, ironically at the Australian Open. Two years between wins is way too long for a player of Serena’s ability and potential greatness. The former number one ranked player came into the Open ranked 81st and unseeded. She started the tournament a little shaky and not quite in game shape but she fought through it and wound up finishing off Sharapova with power, precision and a steely eyed determination that left no doubt she was going to win.
My hope is that Serena does not take this victory – her eighth overall Grand Slam title – for granted and squander it on some frivolous endeavor like acting and the many other non-tennis related activities that have zapped her focus in recent years. I’d like to think that her effort these last two weeks were a way of saying first to herself and then to others that at 25 years of age she is not done and that the best is yet to come. But for that to happen she will have to re-commit to playing tennis on a regular basis because there is no guarantee that she will be able to play dominant tennis again if she fails to train and doesn’t take her game seriously.
Serena Williams leaves Australia now ranked 14th in the world. Oh what a difference a Grand Slam victory makes. I’m hoping that the real Serena Williams a potential legend – and champion of the 2007 Australian Open – is back to stay.