Was it just me, or was Serena waay more emotional in today’s match at the US Open then she was on Tuesday against her sister Venus? I mean, who was this woman? Even though she has had well- documented outbursts at matches in the past and is known to be a mercurial and passionate player, I found myself looking at a different Serena. Today she screamed, screeched and even fell to her knees! Mainly she fought. She ultimately lost but still, she fought. And what a fight.
I noticed early in the game that Serena was getting much closer to the net than she usually did, as her opponent tried, successfully, to trip her up, get her out of her comfort zone which for Serena is usually further behind the net where she can run jump and even do splits, anything to hit the green ball. That was not the case today. Today Serena had on an orange outfit and opponent Roberta Vinci had on a hot pink one which might as well have been red because she was a determined demon, a powerful player with heart who, being a 300-1 underdog, was way way hungry. She was Serena’s worst nightmare. So much so that she arrogantly beat her chest when she scored in the third, actually using hand gestures to implore the crowd to give her her props. Roberta Vinci actually seemed to feed off the crowd.
Serena? Not so much. As was the case in her match against Venus, she seemed annoyed, distracted even, by the crowd. At one point in Tuesday’s game she even signaled to the umpire to quiet the crowd. This time around, frustrated and flustered, she held her hand up at the excited audience, actually gave them the hand, while they cheered the champion after a hard won point. ‘Let me focus, I need to focus, this isn’t over yet,’ she seemed to be saying. But soon after, for Serena’s bid for The Grand Slam- which has not been won by a woman since Steffi Graff in 1988 - it was.
Halfway into the match, my Facebook friend & fellow writer/mother/amazingwoman Angela Bronner Helm posted this: “Serena is battling. Don't let me find out that Drake is a damn jinx!” I laughed aloud because like, OMG, that’s exactly what I was thinking! Was recently rumored amour, the rapper Drake, who was so visibly absent on Tuesday that my own guy wondered out loud where Serena’s supposed new (old?) boo was, actually a jinx? Honest question, Angela. Men have been known to throw a girl off their game sometimes, the damn delicious distractions. Trust me. I know. I even wrote a book about it once.
But no. I don’t think so. I actually don’t know what to think. I am like everyone else in the world right now, including Serena: Seriously Stunned. We all just knew she had a history-making Grand Slam in the bag. And maybe... so did she. And maybe that was the problem. Whatever it was, we can’t blame Drake or Venus or Roberta or even Serena. Although she, like all of us, is responsible for the outcome of her endeavors. That’s just the name of the game. I feel bad for her (as bad as I can feel for a fit, fly fabulous, tennis playing mil(bil?)ionnaire with famous friends and a God-given Black bodacious bootie). I know she fell all the way apart after all of it (the game, the shaking the opponent's hand, the smiling at the crowd, the waving) was all over. I know all of that was not easy for her. At least, hopefully, maybe, she’s got Drake (the jinx?) to hold her close tonight knowing as well as we all do, that she may have fallen today, but a sister like Serena Williams will never fall apart.