Serena Williams And Her Comeback At The Australia Open

By Tom Donelson
Updated: January 29, 2007

NEW YORK — Going into the Australian Open, Serena Williams was coming off injuries and a general feeling among tennis pundits that Williams may been in the autumn of her career.

In the early part of this century, Venus and Serena dominated tennis and just having them show up on the court was enough to win. With a dominant serve and an overpowering stroke, the Williams changed the game as they copied the evolving power game of the men side.

Between 2000 and 2003, Williams were essentially exchanging major titles with each other. Over the past three years, outside interests, the death of their sister and injures slowed down the Williams express and challenges from new young guns from Europe added to the competition.

The Women’s tour ceased to be the Williams private tour. Ranked 81st going into the tournament and her sister recovering from a wrist injuries, Serena came into this tournament with no real pressure.

Serena managed to pull back time and showed Australians the old Williams as she captured her first major since she won the Australian Open two years ago.

The Australian Open featured a rematch of the 2005 Australian Open semifinal between Maria Sharapova and Serena. Sharapova was a sharp shooting Russian with lazar like serves and power strokes that compared to Serena.

And Sharapova was the defending US Open champ as well as the face of tennis as she appeared in her share of commercials. Serena was facing a foe, entering her prime and could match her power, strokes by strokes.

The final did not match the hype as Serena simply took Maria to school. Serena broke Sharapova right off the bat and from there, the massacre continued.

Williams looked like the Williams of three and four years ago when she held all of the major titles at once. In 2005, the 17-year old Russian took Serena to a tough three set match but the more mature 19-year old Sharapova looked like a young junior looking for answers as balls appeared to swirl past her.

Three weeks ago, no one would have suspected that Serena was capable of giving any elite tennis star just a whipping. Before the Australian Open, Williams played in a lower tier tournament and looked out of shape as she failed to reach past the quarter finals.

Then the Australian Open began and Williams looked sharper with each match. The rust came off and her legs look stronger with each game, each set, each match.

As for the final itself, Williams blitzed the first five games as she took an easy 5 game to zero lead before Sharapova finally won her first game.

Williams kept the pressures on the Russian with sharp, accurate serves and nasty power strokes. At the end, Sharapova looked shell shocked and never could come up with an answer to the Williams express.

Having won the first set six games to one, Williams was set to close the door. On this day, no one could have beaten Williams. In the second set, Sharapova was down two games to five and the score at 15-15.

Sharapova was hoping to break Williams and maybe stay in the match. Williams set forth one more blistering serve and Sharapova muttered under her breathe, “Too good”. There was going to be no comeback or a third set.

After the match, Sharapova merely echoed, “She is an amazing champion and has showed it here many times”. Then she added, “Of course I look forward to playing her many more times and winning a few, I hope”.

The “I hope” comment brought back the past when opponents merely hope to not to embarrass themselves against the Williams sisters. The real question is whether this was the rebirth of Serena’s career or a mere reminder of what was.