Serena Williams’ 2013 U.S. Open title over Victoria Azarenka left no doubt to tennis fans that she is the most dominant player in the WTA. It’s just another great season for Williams but is still an epic achievement worth remembering.
Williams has held the No. 1 ranking since late February and is positioned to keep it for as long as she plays at her current level. She leads Azarenka by nearly 3,000 points, a commanding lead that has all of her competitors staring upward.
In addition, Williams has won nine titles, more than doubling the four titles won by Simona Halep. It’s an illustration of how wide the gap has become between Willliams and the rest of the WTA.
Furthermore, Williams has compiled a dominating 67-4 record in singles play, placing this as one of her top five seasons ever and a season far greater than any of her current competitors. Williams continues to set the pace in the 21st century for all of women’s tennis.
Her Grand Slam record has now produced 17 titles. She's completed a second Slam in a calendar year for the sixth time in her career by winning the French Open and U.S. Open titles.
The French Open was particularly special. It was only her second time winning the title at Roland Garros, the other being 2002 when Williams was in the middle of her “Serena Slam.”
Indeed, Williams continues to prove her greatness on all surfaces. Adding another French Open title gives more credence to her all-court legacy and all-around greatness at all venues. It packages nicely with the triangle of five titles each at Melbourne, Wimbledon and New York.
The top players in the WTA look at Serena as the standard for greatness, and there is a sense of awe and admiration expressed when they must confront her on the court or in the media. She brings a towering presence to the court each time she plays, and it is not lost on her nearest rivals.
Recently, Azarenka did not refrain from candidly ranking Williams and her place in history: “She's an amazing player. She's the greatest of all time,” she said, via Piers Newbery of the BBC.
Most of all, Williams bolstered her legacy with a renaissance in 2012 and has continued to extend this in 2013.
Tennis fans can now discuss the longevity of her greatness. The past two years have been important to extending this impression. She is not a candle that burned out too quickly but rather has launched her career results among the greatest ever.
Williams' 17 Grand Slam singles titles now ranks right behind Chris Evert (18), Martina Navratilova (18) and Steffi Graf (22).
Williams also has more balance than Evert and Navratilova with her 17 titles. She has won at least five titles at three of the Slam venues—something only Graf has done.
She is right in the discussion of greatest player of all time. This year left no doubts.
Williams has always had a unique combination of tennis skill and power. Now at 31, she is playing with a sense of urgency and motivation that has made her nearly unstoppable. If she continues this play, there is no telling how much longer she can continue to add more Grand Slam titles and record-breaking achievements.
For Williams, 2013 will rank as a satisfying display of domination and all-time tennis. It will take many years—perhaps decades—before we see another player who can one day rank with the great Serena Williams.