This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The ace screaming down the middle of the clay court at Roland Garros told a fitting story for Serena Williams on Saturday morning.
It defeated Maria Sharapova for the 13th consecutive time this time to win the French Open. It gave Williams the right to boast about yet another major title. It means Williams is fast making her claim as the best women's tennis player of all-time.
But there should be more. In America, we talk about LeBron James, and rightfully so. We talk football at this time of year, although training camp won't start for another six weeks. We're wondering whether Tim Duncan becomes the best player of this generation should he win a fifth NBA championship in a few weeks.
And Serena? Of course she receives a lot of attention. But much of it comes from her accomplishments off the court as much as from what she does with a racket. It may be time that changes. Her 6-4, 6-4 demolition of Sharapova marks her first conquest of the French Open since 2002.
She's 16-4 in Grand Slam finals. She leads all active women in Major titles and she's sixth on the all-time list eight behind first-place Margaret Court.
Williams is riding a 31-match win streak, and she's won an unreal 74 of her last 77 matchups. At 31, she's the oldest woman to win a major since Martina Navratilova. Her weakness used to be on clay, but she's won her last 23 on that surface.
In essence, Williams has dominated tennis in a way rarely seen since the days of Navratilova and Billy Jean King two decades before that. Her unrivaled power is still there this late into her career. At a time when most tennis players are slowing down, Williams is still, without question, the best in her sport.
And maybe we take that for granted. She's expected to win so easily that we're shocked whenever anyone even takes a set from her. She's still the most physically imposing women's tennis player of this generation. But her touch, her smarts, her ability to think the game have all improved over the last five years.
It's conceivable that Williams could catch Court. In the next few months alone, she will be heavily favored to emerge victorious at Wimbledon and in the U.S. Open. As long as she stays healthy, she has a chance to make ultimate history.
It's time for us to stop taking her exploits for granted. At the very least, she's the best tennis player on the women's side that we've seen in two decades. She could be the best ever before she's finished.