Serena Williams’s rise in the world of tennis is probably unparalleled. And at Wimbledon 2016, she stands at the threshold of greatness of epic proportions. The self-styled “warrior”, crushing Germany’s Annicka Beck in their fourth-round face-off, clinched her 300th Grand Slam match win and has come within inches of displacing Martina Navratilova for the record (306) of the most Grand Slam match wins (women). Even though she won’t break Navratilova’s record if she wins all matches hereon at Wimbledon, a victory in the final means she will equal Steffi Graf for the most number of Grand Slam titles—she is just one title shy of Graf’s career haul of 22. Given she has struggled in her last three attempts to get there—her appearances in the 2015 US Open and 2016 Australian Open and Roland Garros—there is a lot at stake for her this time.
Williams, who is just as much a force to reckon with when she is not playing, had quipped that she was making “extreme history”. That might as well be true. Apart from being a powerhouse on court, her incisive quotes every time a sexist (that her large biceps were not ‘feminine’) or racist barb came her way, have offered hope not just to sportspersons of colour but to progressive-minded people at large. At an age when most would consider retirement, Williams remains the one tennis player with whom ‘power and endurance’ in a sport known for ‘finesse and speed’ will forever be associated.