September 8, 2014
Serena Williams made history at Flushing Meadows as she swept aside her friend Caroline Wozniacki with effortless power.
In truth, the Dane brought little to the final, completely failing to get mean against someone she adores and reveres, losing the psychological battle so comprehensively that the result was never in doubt. Wozniacki simply had to forget that friendship and bring her fiercest aggression to the showpiece, if she were to stand any chance at all. Instead Williams crushed her 6-3, 6-3.
‘You are an unbelievable champion and an inspiration on and off the court,’ Wozniacki told Williams afterwards, having completely missed the point of meaningful contest. ‘And we’ll go for drinks later.’
You try to knock lumps out of each other in sporting battle, you try to kill each othr out there. Then – and only then – do you let the friendship return. Caroline is simply too nice for such realities. One day she will wish she could have brought a cold-blooded killer instinct to the big occasion, a refusal to be denied, the kind of mentality you need to carry off a first Grand Slam title.
They could still have had drinks later, of course – had Serena been able to contemplate such a thought. Had she been the one on the receiving end of such a thrashing, would Williams have appeared so content? Serena, it could be argued, was unstoppable in this kind of brutal form anyway. Yet Wozniacki allowed her to be that way. She barely hit a winner until it was much too late. Caroline had to take risks…and she didn’t.
Take nothing away from Serena, though. And let’s face it, no one could do that on a day she only added to her incredible riches and more importantly to her standing as the best tennis player in the world and one of the greatest of all time.
She equalled living legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert by claiming her 18th Grand Slam title. Fittingly, both women were there to present Serena with the trophy and something even more personal. Evert and Navratilova gave Williams an 18-carat bracelet to mark that 18th major. To the woman who has everything, it probably meant far more than the $4 million she also received – $3 million for the US Open and $1 million for being the best on hard courts this American summer.
‘Now I’ve got to go home and get fit again for Australia,’ said an insatiable Williams, who is almost 33 and hadn’t won a Slam all year.
Will she ever reach the 22 Grand Slams of the amazing Steffi Graf? (Some lists go beyond the modern era to include Helen Willis Moody on 19 and Margaret Court with 24). That remains to be seen. But Serena has written her name in history by being a true warrior. The loveable Wozniacki has to realise that harsh reality if she is ever going to win just one Slam, before her career passes her by entirely.
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