Is Serena Williams The Best Women’s Tennis Player Ever?

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Who are the best athletes ever?

In some sports, there is an ongoing, if not raging debate about who is the G.O.A.T., a.k.a., the greatest of all time. But not in women’s tennis. In women’s tennis there isn’t even the slightest hint of discussion about the best to play the game, ever.

In Basketball, the debate rages on between LeBron and Michael. And for football quarterbacks, it’s Brady vs. Montana, with honorable mentions to Bradshaw, Marino and Favre, Steve Young and John Elway and Peyton Manning, and of course, Roger Staubach.

Hockey is easy: Gretzy the Great will forever hold that title. Baseball is a little harder to pin down, but certainly it’s got to be the Babe or some other Yankee. In other sports, such as women’s gymnastics, Nadia Comaneci’s name comes immediately to mind as she is certainly is at the top of the list. In men’s swimming, Michael Phelps has dominated of late.

Since it’s the season for Wimbledon, we focus on tennis. In men’s tennis, Federer just lost in the quarterfinals for the first time ever (that was a fluke, right?), but he’s still got to be at the top of the list along with Nadal and Sampras and my man Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl and McEnroe and Andre Agassi and even Jimmy Connors.

But when it comes to women’s tennis, there is absolutely no debate. None. We all loved watching Chrissy Everett, and respected Martina Navratilova, and Monica Seles and Steffi Graff. But when it comes to tennis, there is only one queen. Serena. Not even her sister Venus gets an honorable mention. Serena reigns supreme.

Serena is one win away from wining her eighth major championship, at Wimbledon alone. Here’s how ESPN put it:

“Even after more than a year away from the tour, even after a health scare while having a baby a little more than 10 months ago, Williams is still capable of dominance.

A relatively routine 6-2, 6-4 semifinal victory over 13th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany on Thursday put Williams into her 10th final at the All England Club and moved her closer to a 24th Grand Slam title, which would equal Margaret Court’s record.

‘It’s crazy. I don’t even know how to feel, you know, because literally, I didn’t expect to do this well in my fourth tournament back,’ Williams said. ‘I just feel like when I don’t have anything to lose, I just can play so free, and that’s kind of what I’m doing.’

After hitting five aces with a serve that reached 119 mph, delivering 16 winners to only seven unforced errors, and covering the court so well with speed and effort against Goerges, Williams will face another German, 11th-seeded Angelique Kerber, on Saturday. http://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/24076249/wimbledon-2018-serena-williams-angelique-kerber-reach-final

That was the play-by-play. Now here’s the commentary: the great ones in every sport inspire us to do our best, to be at our best, and to stay at our best. Because we love to watch the best, and only the best. We like excellence in everything, especially sports. And that’s what sports do for us. Great players give us excellence, and the best ones do that (mostly) all of the time.

Spiritually, God requires excellence as well. Since we can’t be at our best all of the time on our own, He now asks — not demands, but asks — that allow Him to help us be at our best, live at our best, and stay at our best, all of the time. Naturally, that’s what Serena is doing on the court. Naturally and spiritually, that’s God wants to help us do every day in every way.

Golden Moments From Rio 2016: An Olympic Photo Essay

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American Abbey D’Agnostino and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand were 3,000 meters into the race when D’Agnostinio appealed to clip Hamblin’s heel, sending both tumbling to the ground. After getting up, D’Agnostino fell again, and Hamblin was gracious enough to end her hopes of placing in the race by helping Abbey up.

There were dozens of great stories during these Olympics, but none more compelling and captivating than the one where one runner stopped to help another up after a fall during the race. And that is what life is all about: falling down and getting back up, and those that help us and those that we help along the way to the finish line.

So the Olympics and life are not just about winning gold medals; it’s about living the golden rule and sharing golden moments all along the way.

http://www.usatoday.com/media/cinematic/video/88829960/moving-moment-in-womens-5000-at-rio-olympics/

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 09: Ruolin Chen and Huixia Liu of China compete in the Women’s Diving Synchronised 10m Platform Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 15: Kelly Jonker (R) of the Netherlands hits the ball into Lucinda von der Heyde during the Women’s quarter final hockey match between the Netherlands and Argentina on Day 10 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games held at the Olympic Hockey Centre on August 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
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USA’s guard Kyrie Irving (R) takes a shot over France’s point guard Thomas Heurtel during a Men’s round Group A basketball match between USA and France at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 14, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Andrej ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
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David Florence, Richard Hounslow Men’s Canoe Double event at Whitewater Stadium during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Hahn Lionel/CP)

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Usain Bolt of Jamaica wins the Men’s 100m Final on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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Spain’s Naiara Egozkue celebrates after scoring during the women’s preliminary handball match between Spain and Romania at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

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Bronze medalist Kristi Castlin, gold medalist Brianna Rollins and  silver medalist Nia Ali, all of the United States, celebrate after sweeping the Women’s 100m Hurdles Final at Olympic Stadium at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 17, 2016. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UI
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Mohamed Farah of Great Britain reacts after winning the gold medal in the Men’s 5000 meter Final at Olympic Stadium at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 20, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsh/UPI
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Danell Leyva celebrates after competing in the men’s team gymnastics final of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the Rio Arena on Monday, August 8, 2016.
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Jeff Henderson of the United States reacts after winning the gold medal in the Men’s Long Jump Final at Olympic Stadium on Saturday, August 13, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

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Inika McPherson of the United States competes in the Women’s High Jump Final at Olympic Stadium at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 20, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
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Elaine Thompson of Jamaica is amazed as she crosses the finish line first in her 200m final which earned her double gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Photo Credit: @iaaforg
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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 17: Hannah Mills (helm) of Great Britain and Saskia Clark of Great Britain sail in the light wind delaying the start of the Women’s 470 class race on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Marina da Gloria on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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USA’s gold medallist team Nathan Adrian (L), Michael Phelps, Ryan Murphy, Cody Miller (R), pose with a banner “Thank You rio” during the podium ceremony of the Men’s swimming 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 13, 2016. / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Phelps!

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Wow! What’s not to like?  He’s won going away, and in so doing he’s set the bar so high that it will be tough for any US athlete to beat and best his mark for gold medals won.  But that’s how we like our heroes. We like it for them to be above us and beyond us and ahead of us. But with all of that privilege comes responsibility. And in the end, Phelps has shown himself to be a worthy champion.

Here’s a little bit of his bio and a short list of his Olympic accolades:  

Michael Fred Phelps II was born on June 30, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland and is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals. Phelps also holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals at 23; 14 ahead of the second-highest record holders. Phelps also holds the record for Olympic gold medals in individual events at 13, and Olympic medals in individual events at 16.

 In winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, Phelps broke fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz’s record of 7 first-place finishes at any single Olympic Games. Five of those victories were in individual events, tying the single Games record. In the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Phelps won four golds and two silver medals, making him the most successful athlete of the Games for the third Olympics in a row. And this year in Rio, we all watched Phelps win 5 gold medals and one silver.

Yet with all of the winning and medaling and achieving, Phelps has also had his handful of hiccups.

In November 2004, at the age of 19, Phelps was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Salisbury, Maryland. Asked about the incident later by Matt Lauer on the Today Show, Phelps said that he had “let a lot of people in the country down.”

In February 2009, publication of a photograph of Phelps using a bong resulted in the loss of the Kellogg Company as a sponsor, as well as a three-month suspension by USA Swimming. Phelps admitted that the photo, taken at a party at the University of South Carolina, was authentic. He publicly apologized, saying his behavior was “inappropriate”.

And in September 2014, he was arrested again, on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding in Baltimore, Maryland. As a result, USA Swimming suspended him from all competitions for six months, and stated he would not be chosen to represent the United States at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships.

But Phelps has overcome each and every stumble and bumble.  He is retiring from the sport (again) and is going out on top, winning his last race. Phelps participated in five Olympics and won in four consecutive Olympic Games. Not too shabby.

Phelps now has a cute little boy and pretty little fiancée, and by all appearances, he seems to have handled the ups and bounced back from the downs of his life and career with a degree of class and composure. His major triumphs were on the grand stage, so if follows that his minor tragedies were equally public a swell. Because “to whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48)

So congrats to you, Michael. You won the 4×100 medley relay in your last race. And after you won you marched around the arena with a “Thank you, Rio” banner. That was classy. You are a class act, and you will be a tough act to follow.

Note From Mo Farah: “Get Back Up and Get Back Going!”

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Mo Farah is my hero. Yes Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps and Simone Biles and Simone Manuel and Michelle Carter all won gold medals and won over untold hearts, but Mo Farah is my main man. He won after he FELL! That’s right, he fell down in the middle of the race after inadvertently tripping on his training mates leg. Yet despite the fall, Farah won after all.  

One sports writer put it this way:

“It would not be Super Saturday at the Olympics without a run of blistering brilliance by Mo Farah and in Rio’s Stadio Olimpico Britain’s greatest long distance runner turned the men’s 10,000m final into an epic rerun of Chariots of Fire when he fell during an enthralling, unrelenting race and recovered to blast past leader Paul Tanui on the home straight to take gold and retain his Olympic crown.

Farah, who became the first British track and field athlete to win three Olympic gold medals, was inadvertently tripped by training partner Galen Rupp midway through the race in Rio’s Olympic Stadium and even though he recovered quickly and gave the thumbs up as he ran on, the way he fought back from the setback adds yet more lustre to his astonishing career.

This was another quite remarkable performance from Farah, a storybook triumph, after he chased Kenyan Tanui down the back straight on the final lap and then sprinted past him, leaving him powerless to retaliate.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-3739523/Mo-Farah-defends-Olympic-10-000m-title-land-GB-s-10th-gold-Rio-Games.html#ixzz4HGj2umgp Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

It was so spiritual, so divine, so mystical and mythical that you had to see it to even believe it. And I believe that it wasn’t in spite of the fall that Farah won; it was BECAUSE of the fall that he got back up and got back going. The fall was fuel for his fire and grist for his mill. The fall made the rise even more dramatic. The stumble and the stagger were turned to a humble swagger; and the setback was just a setup for a comeback which made the turnaround  truly astounding.  

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Britain’s Mo Farah wins the gold in the men’s 10,000-meter during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

It was properly providential that he fell on the track and could have fallen out of the race. Instead, Farah fell into our hearts as yet another example of how to get back up and get back going, again.

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:

Proverbs 24:16, KJV

Why Aren’t You Watching The Olympics?

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I asked someone at work why she wasn’t watching the Olympics. She said “I was busy; and besides, the ratings are down.” The ratings are down? You mean you watch because other people watch, and you don’t watch because other people don’t watch? Really? Sounds like a millennial following a trend and not their own inner compass.

Michael Phelps won his record 19th Gold Medal when he helped the USA men’s 4×100 relay team win. With the win, Phelps extends his record to a whopping 23 Olympic medals.  That’s something to get all revved up about, despite Phelps personal problems (but more on that in another blog). And the expressions on the faces of Phelps and teammate Caeleb Dressel are priceless; the looks of elation are worth the price of admission all by themselves.

And “Pure happiness” radiated from Katie Ledecky as the 19-year-old USA freestyle phenom gazed at the scoreboard and contemplated her latest feat: 400m free Olympic gold in world record time. We’ll have to write more about Ledecky later, too.

Now I had long gone to bed when these races were being run and being won, but I am very much tied and emotionally “all in” to the Olympics. It’s the spirit of the games and the esprit de corps and the essence and the quintessence that I love. You can’t duplicate or replicate this energy and inertial by not watching and not caring. I mean, com’ on man! (and woman).

The sum and substance of the Olympic Games lies at the center and is found in the soul of the of the term “team.” Teams must pull together and push together and row together and run together, literally and figuratively, in order to achieve success. And the crux and core of team sports is captured in every Olympics and it is no less on display in Rio this year.  With all of the turmoil and turbulence surrounding these games, it is no wonder that the push and pull to exceed is even more palpable.

So, let’s get back up, let’s dust ourselves off and let’s turn on the tube and watch these Olympic Games! You’ll be glad you did. You’ll thank me later, but you can thank me now.