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

serena-williams-wins-wimbledon

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.

Sloane Stephens Wins the 2017 US Open: The Impossible is Possible

USP TENNIS: U.S. OPEN S TEN USA NY
September 7, 2017 New York, NY, USA– Sloane Stephens of the United States celebrates after match point against Venus Williams of the United States on day eleven of the U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY

Once again, we have yet another “David” pulling off an upset win when no one, and I mean NO ONE, gave her a chance. The “her” is Sloane Stephens. 

Who is Sloane Stephens?  Who knew or even wildly guessed she would win the US Open?  And who saw this one coming? We’ll field the answers to Questions 2 and 3 first: nobody and not anybody.  Now for Question No. 1: Sloane, a 24 year old who has been playing professional tennis since she was 16, came from nowhere and ended up somewhere very special. The winners circle at the US Open is a pretty special place to be, especially when you didn’t expect to end up there.  Good for her. For more on Stephens, check out her web site http://sloanestephens.com/about/ which is pretty nice.

Sloane Stephens, who was unseeded and ranked 83rd, defeated Venus Williams in the semi-finals of the US Open, and in 2013.  At the tender age of 15, she defeated Serena in the Australian Open! Sheeesh!  I love it. 

Once again, sports stands at the front of the classroom, with chalk in hand at the blackboard drawing X’s and O’s, teaching us once again that an unknown can come from the unknown and become so well known that we can’t ignore how hard work and faith can combine and collaborate in a comeback conquest for the ages.  But none of this looked possible earlier this summer.

Stephens, who had been sidelined for 11 months after a foot injury and underwent surgery in January, made her comeback at Wimbledon and entered this summer’s US Open Series ranked 957th.  Talk about sitting in the back of the bus! But she’s been on a tear in the North American events, reaching the semifinals in Toronto and Cincinnati.  

“I had surgery January 23,” Stephens said. “If someone told me then that I’d win the US Open, I would say ‘It’s impossible – it’s absolutely impossible.’  My journey to get here, coming back, just being able to keep it all together and have such a great team behind me — this journey’s been incredible. And I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world. 

Wow. What a humble, meek and modest message.

With the win, Stephens is projected to rise to No. 17. She also nets a hefty payday: $3.7 million. Her career earnings heading into this tournament were $4,519,709, with $310,546 coming this year.  http://us.cnn.com/2017/09/09/tennis/us-open-final-madison-keys-sloane-stephens/index.html

 Sloane Stephens

And her reaction and facial expression after she found out how much her earnings were is priceless.  “That’s a lot of money,” a visibly surprised Stephens said.

 Sloane Stephens Wins 3.7 Mil

Get used to it sista. 

Work Ethic: A Family Affair

amd-williams-cover-jpg

God worked.  He worked for six days, creating the heavens and the earth, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and the beasts of the field.  God worked diligently and deliberately. God worked efficiently and effectively and he expects us to do the same. God worked and I believe God worked hard and He worked smart. If He could, God would have come early and stayed late.  God would have worked overtime if He had to, to get the job, or “get ‘er” done. Yes God finished the work he had been doing and rested on the seventh day, but for six days, He worked.

Adam worked.  God made man to work.   “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).  Adam worked hard and he worked smart.  He was responsible for all of the animals and the tilling of the ground. Adam had and developed a work ethic.

Work ethic is a value based on hard work and diligence. It is also a belief in the moral benefit of work and its ability to enhance character. A work ethic includes being reliable, having initiative, and pursuing goals and new skills. Players and workers exhibiting a good work ethic in theory should be selected for better positions, more responsibility and ultimately promotion.

Rahab worked. She had faith, but was also  justified by her works. “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” (James 2:25).   James goes on to say that “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (v. 17). Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” 

The Williams sisters have a solid work ethic.  A solid  work ethic has led Serena Williams to win an astonishing seventeen-time Grand Slam titles. The older Venus is a seven-time Grand Slam title winner.

The Williams sisters have worked for the honors they have achieved. Both sisters have had the honor of being ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association at the World No. 1 position. In 2002, after the French Open, Venus Williams and Serena Williams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. During the 2010 French Open, they became the co-world no.1 players in women’s doubles, in addition to holding the top two positions in singles tennis as well.

Williams Sisters

Because God worked, and Adam worked, and Rahab and all of the other mighty men and women of faith worked, we are to work as well.  “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).  And here is the kicker: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (v. 20).

So work hard and work smart. Pray. Fast. Fast and pray. Study the Word of God. Work at it.  Be diligent and deliberate, not haphazard and higgledy-piggledy; be efficient and effective, not jumbled and mumbled. Your spiritual hard work will pay off. And you will be able to “rest” from your labor, AFTER you work.  When we die to our selfish and sinful ways, our “death” will result in new life. Dying in the Lord is both natural and spiritual.  Resting is both natural and spiritual as well.

“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them’ (Revelation 14:13).