In the past month two legends have said goodbye to their professional careers; Serena Williams and Roger Federer. They have both etched their names into the history books of tennis. Whenever tennis is discussed, these two will inevitably be mentioned.
Serena Williams was born on September 26, 1981 in Saginaw, Michigan. She was the youngest of five daughters, and started playing tennis at the age of 4. At the age of 9, her family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida so that she and her sister could attend the tennis academy. In 1999, she won her first US Open grand slam title. From that point on, she has had a huge impact on women’s tennis and has also won 23 grand slam titles. She won the Australian and the Wimbledon titles a total of 7 times. She has lifted the US Open 6 times and the French open 3 times.
This is a record that stands today – no other human being has won 23 grand slams, ever.
Williams’s reign over the past 20 years was no accident, rather a story of pure dedication by an entire family. Raising one champion is an effort, but to create two champions, is something akin to a miracle. Serena and Venus Williams have shown the world that between their 30 Grand Slam titles and 122 single titles won, there is a lot of sweat, dreams, and sacrifices. Serena Williams reigned at the top for so long because of her powerful serves, precision, and highly competitive spirit. She’s played in many matches where defeat seemed most probable, and yet somehow came out winning. Her retirement is met with sorrow from millions of people who have watched her grow from the Williams sisters to the person who holds the most Grand Slams ever.
Unfortunately, Williams is not the only athlete leaving tennis. Roger Federer has also announced his retirement and played his final professional match, his decision was also met with great sorrow.
Federer has many qualities that attest to his popularity, the longevity of his reign, the number of grand slams that he has won, his flair, his poise on the stage, his style, and the charm that he embodies. However, most important, in my opinion, is his ability to connect to his fans and entertain them. His composure during his victory speeches and the way he handles his defeats and keeps his emotions in check connects very well with his fans.
Born on August 8, 1981 in Basel, Switzerland, he had his first junior match in 1996 at the age of 15 in a grade 2 tournament. In 1998 he won the junior Wimbledon title and in 2003 he lifted his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon. Thus the Federer era began. From 2003 to 2007 he lifted Wimbledon every year. Between 2004 and 2008, he was the undisputed US Open champion. He was equally successful with the Australian open and lifted that cup for 6 years in his career. The one tournament that eluded him was the French open which he was only able to win in 2009. Overall he has won 20 grand slam titles and 130 million dollars as prize money. According to Forbes, he is supposed to have made roughly around 1 Billion dollars from his endorsements and other business endeavors.
Nadal and Djokovic have both won more Grand Slams than Federer – 22 and 21 respectively. Both of them are great players and have great personalities, they also have a huge fan following just like Federer. However, there is something special about Federer that puts him in a different bucket than both Nadal and Djokovic and even other great players like Borg, Mcnroe, Lendl, Agassi and others.
Federer and Williams have forever placed their marks on the tennis world, changing it irreversibly. Tennis will never be the same again…