Why Serena is the GOAT🐐

Serena is not the Greatest of all Time (GOAT) because of the number of championship titles she holds. Nor is she the GOAT for the overall number of wins she has. She’s not the GOAT because, along side sister Venus, they served faster, hit the ball harder or moved better on the court, forever elevating tennis. 

Yes, Serena changed the game of tennis, alongside that she changed women’s sport forever. 

I grew up playing tennis. Wear white. Don’t get dirty (and I grew up on those dusty clay courts – impossible!). Be prim and proper. Speak when spoken too. Do your drills. If you sweat wipe it off. Ask few questions. Follow what the coach tells you to do. Never show your emotion on the court. Despite the fact that boys were held to a different standard. 

While learning to manage pressure as a child is an essential life skill, showing emotions is equally as critical. 

McEnroe, Agassi, Kyrgios, Connor, Djokovic. These men threw, and some continue to throw, temper tantrums on the court. We may not have called it acceptable but we did not shame these men for this behaviour. Most of the time we chuckled, sometimes we said they’d gone too far, but we do not demand these players change their behaviour; it’s just part of the game. 

Serena faced a different threshold. When Serena bared her emotions, particularly the negative ones, we said ‘how dare she?’ We held Serena to a different standard, holding her accountable to improve her behaviour on court, suggesting she always be prim and proper.

I’ve become a later stages Serena Williams fan. As I study and learn more about sport, I recognize how important emotions are , particularly in sport. Emotions fuel us. Emotion gets us out of bed on a cold dark morning. Emotion eeks out that final rep in the gym, on the court, on the track. And like Serena reminded me, when used appropriately, emotions hold us to a higher standard. We learn from our mistakes, we apologize, and do better in the future (no not try, as Yoda said, we do). 

Regardless of what happens in the rest of this US Open tournament, Serena remains the GOAT. Her courage under pressure, wearing her heart upon her sleeve so she leaves nothing on the court, her looking up into the stands at Olympia. 

Serena changed the game of tennis. Serena changed women’s sport. Serena holds us to a standard to wear our hearts upon our sleeve, apologize when we make mistakes, because we recognize we are human and fallible; Serena shows us how to live as a better version of our selves. Serena changed the world for her daughter, for your daughter, for your niece, for all the little girls to come. Serena changed the world for mother’s. Serena changed the world for you. Serena forever changed my world.