Serena Williams - The Greatest Athlete of Our Time?

Serena williams

by Sukh Singh, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam at the age of 17 and as you may have seen, at almost 34 years of age, has just won the Women’s Wimbledon Championship - her 21st Singles Grand Slam in over 16 years.

While she and her sister Venus have dominated the sport for many years, you may not realise just how much of a force she is to be reckoned with, not just as a female tennis player - not even just as a tennis player - but as an athlete. Here's an insight from the BBC who argue she should be held in the same regard as Roger Federer...

“Take it outside tennis, and who can match her? Tiger Woods won his first major in 1997 and his last in 2008. Cristiano Ronaldo was a 14-year-old kid in Madeira when Serena began her reign, Leo Messi a frail 12-year-old boy.

Kobe Bryant has five NBA [championships], but perhaps only Floyd Mayweather, 48 fights unbeaten since his professional debut in 1996, can truly compare. And that is in one weight division, against underdogs and outsiders as well as true contenders. To remain the best, Serena has had to repeatedly beat the best. No easy match-ups, no easy years, no easy titles.

Tough. Fearless. Courageous. A competitor, and still a woman. That is Serena, and that is why we should celebrate her.”

As the BBC have noted, her success is inarguable. As with every legend, she has a phenomenal team around her, from her coach, to hitting partner, to her physiotherapist.

And here’s a great story about her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, as told by the Telegraph;

When Mouratoglou first started working with Williams in 2012, he faced an immediate test of character when her father Richard confronted him after a match at Wimbledon. Serena… had never previously gone so far as to appoint a coach not sanctioned by her family, and her father still needed to be convinced that she had made the right decision…

"For me, it was an important moment as well. So many tennis coaches are afraid to lose their jobs and it makes them weak. I needed to show that I was not afraid."

Mouratoglou replied that he would not be addressed in such an aggressive way, and he recalls that Serena was shocked to hear someone stand up to her father. Richard had been unchallenged in the family dynamic for long enough. But the time had clearly come for this great champion to broaden her horizons, and within a few days of that first collision between the two men, she had lifted the Wimbledon title for the fifth time.

When the successes are there, it’s easy to be happy and supportive - but when you’re looking for your team - in sport, business, work - or any field, you need to know that when you face hard times they will be there firmly in your corner. Serena has faced hardship in her life - depression, failure, playing in her sister’s shadow and she has worked hard to have the right people around her.

For sure, there is so much more to the World No. 1, but this is one crucial aspect to her continued success.

If you could pick 5 people to be in your corner - past or present - who would you have and why? 

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Serena Williams image courtesy of Yann Caradec @ Flickr