Why Roger Federer And Serena Williams Are More Alike Than Different
February 2nd, 2017
Image: Australian Open
In another historical final at the Australian Open Grand Slam, Serena Williams won against her sister Venus Williams while Roger Federer won his Men’s title against Rafael Nadal. Time and again, many players and analysts have called them the greatest tennis player of all time. What makes them great? Is it their ability to play their sport at a world-class level or their perseverance and dedication?
Well, we think it’s a bit of everything that makes them remarkable at what they do!
Serena won with a 6-4, 6-4 victory, breaking her tie with Steffi Graf for winning the grand slam titles. This put her one win short of Margaret Court’s record of 24. Serena Williams is the only player to have achieved a Career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles. Serena Williams won the 7th Australian Open Trophy against her sister Venus Williams, after defeating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
On the other side, the Swiss returned to the game in style by winning the Australian Open in a gripping final with Rafael Nadal beating him 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in 3.5 hours.
Different yet so similar – Age is just a number for them!
At the age of 35 where nearly all of their contemporaries have retired, the prodigal players continue to win hearts and titles. At 35, Roger Federer is the oldest men’s grand slam finalist since Ken Rosewall lost the U.S. Open final in 1974 at the age of 39.
Martina Navratilova was at 37, the oldest in the Open era at Wimbledon in 1994, but Serena Williams is not much younger. Steffi Graf retired at 30, but Serena at 35, has won her latest major without dropping a single set.
Claim to fame
Federer’s accomplishments came to light as a junior player in 1998 at Wimbledon. He won the boys’ singles and also doubles with Olivier Rochus. At the end of the year, he was ranked No 1 in the world junior ranking.
Williams won her first title in 1999 at the Open Gaz de France when she defeated Amelie Mauresmo. She also won a doubles match in Fed Cup against Russia, ending her year ranked No 4. And this was just her second full year on the main tour.
Not including the professional Grand Slam events, Federer has won the most Grand Slam titles as a male player, at 18 titles. He was at the No 1 spot in the ATP rankings for 302 weeks. Currently, he is ranked at No 10.
Williams rose to World No 1 spot on 8 July 2002. And by 30 January 2017, she had achieved this ranking seven times. She replaced German Angelique Kerber. The previous time, she was at the top for 186 weeks. She tied with Steffi Graf for most weeks at No 1 by a female player. In all, she held the No 1 position for 310 weeks throughout her career.
- In majors, Federer has won five Australian Open titles, seven Wimbledon titles, five US Open titles and one French Open title. Williams is the only player ever to have won 2 of the 4 Majors 7 times each – 7 Wimbledon and 7 Australian Open titles.
- He is among the eight men to achieve a career Grand Slam. He reached a record 28 men’s singles Grand Slam finals, including 10 in a row from the 2005 Wimbledon Championships to the 2007 US Open. She is also the only tennis player to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades. She has won a record 13 Grand Slam singles titles on hardcourt.
- Federer shares an Open Era record for most titles at Wimbledon with Pete Sampras and the US Open with Jimmy Connors and Sampras. Williams holds the Open Era record for most titles won at the Australian Open (7). Her total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles marks the record for the most Major wins by a women tennis player in the Open Era and is second on the all-time list behind Margaret Court
Both are primarily baseline players.
Though Federer is also comfortable at the net and is an all-court, all-around player known for his speed, fluid style of play, and exceptional shot making. He hits a powerful inside-out or inside-in forehand, Federer plays with a single-handed backhand, which gives him great variety. He is often able to produce big serves on key points during a match.
Williams’ game is built around taking immediate control of her rallies with her powerful and consistent serve, return of serve, and forceful groundstrokes from both her forehand and backhand swings. Williams’ forehand is considered to be among the most powerful shots in the women’s game.
The Australian Open marked an extraordinary comeback for both.
Their Winning Speech
It’s fascinating to see how their revelry with their contemporaries and opponents turns to rivalry on courts. Their ability to switch off their emotions when on the tennis court and to focus on nothing but winning is commendable and commands huge respect for the duo. Their Australian Open winning speech also comprised of compliments for their rivals.
“I’d like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback. I don’t think either of us thought we’d be in the finals when we were at your academy four or five years ago” said a tired and teary-eyed Federer. “There are no draws. If there were, I would have been happy to accept one tonight and share it with Rafa.”
Serena too, in turn, credited her victory to her sister, saying, “I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she’s an amazing person,” the 23-time major champion says. “There’s no way I would be at 23 without her. There’s no way I would be at one without her. There’s no way I would be anything without her. She’s the only reason the Williams sisters exist. I think she’ll be standing here next year. I don’t like the word comeback, but she’s never left.”
To feel proud of your victory and to feel disappointed at the same time at your opponent’s defeat, is an emotion and grace that one must learn to master as a sports person. Roger and Serena teach us that. We look forward to them giving us more wild and thrilling matches, year after year!