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Serena's Eternal Legacy

Serena’s Eternal Legacy

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Legends never fade completely, for time grants them shelter in memory. Serena Williams left an indelible mark on the sport. His figure has entered in its own right among the greatest names of all time, helping to promote a discipline with global reach. In the locker room, no one doubts that he witnessed the career of a legend, someone whose impact transcended tennis to a point reserved for very few. Player with most Open Era Grand Slams leavesthat of professional tennis, with figures unequaled in men’s tennis today.

Following in the footsteps of her sister Venus, an icon and key figure in equality, Serena is an essential link in the evolution of sport. She changed the style of play with a much more aggressive tennis, with total hardness, and quickly became the dominatrix of the circuit. Those of us who have lived with her know the feelings that surround her. This aura that surrounds people with a special presence and charisma. He competed with an innate claw, he always intimidated out of respect and it didn’t take long for him to gain authority in the locker room. I grew up watching her lift the biggest headlines on TV and facing her has always been a privilege.

I vividly remember the first time I saw her in person. It was 2007, I was playing in the qualifying phase of a tournament in the United States and I will never forget that feeling. I was impressed by her work and her fiber, the strength she transmitted over the short distance. I admired his ability on the pitch, but also the way he knew how to develop his game. Growing up, with a regular presence on the WTA circuit, I had the great pleasure of sharing a locker room with her. I can’t deny that she was the toughest opponent I have ever faced. I suffered him many times, including the final in Miami, but he always had these blows and this ability to turn games into a huge challenge.

Despite his greatness, he never lost his closeness. She has always treated me with the greatest respect, both for herself and for those around her. I remember an episode with his sister in 2009 that I can never forget, and I would say his family either. I faced Venus at the Australian Open, it was the second round and we played at night. I came back to the limit, increasing the match point. I had never faced Serena and as fate would have it, the following year, also in Melbourne, we met in the third round. That day, I was able to notice the bullying, in a sporting sense. I noticed that he headed into the match with absolute hunger, with maximum intensity from the first moment. In that moment, in my own flesh, I felt what it takes to be a true champion. He was in front of me, facing me, just a few feet away.

After that game, we played each other six times. It was different surfaces, different tournament heights, but I never even managed to win a set. I didn’t know how to find his weaknesses on the track, or hurt him with my weapons. If at some point there was an opportunity, something really complicated, I didn’t know how to take advantage of it. His reality never took him out of the locker room, being one more companion for many of us. In the corridors, in the hotels, he was a person who always treated with great respect. And he was always present at different times. The year I fell ill, when he learned that I was retiring, he had nice words of encouragement.

When I returned to the 2021 Roland Garros circuit, when it coincided with the tournament, he came to talk to me for a few minutes. He took an interest in my state of health and told me that he was very happy to see me again. It may seem like a small thing, or you may think she did what so many players have done. But Serena was one of the few who stopped for a long chat and that’s something I appreciated from the bottom of my heart. His career was an example of improvement. With overcoming injuries, serious health problems and even Grand Slam finals after being a mother. This shows an unusual value. He has competed across generations, starting from scratch and competing against young tennis players, in physical splendor, without losing an iota of authority.

In recent years, we have missed her figure, it has been difficult to see her constantly and we have few opportunities left to enjoy her legend. Serena was and is needed in tournaments, maybe not as a rival, but for the fan. Time passes, also for the better. This sport implies total hardness if one is not at 100%. Her priorities may have changed, family is something you dream of when competing on the other side of the world, and she has a precious illusion to grow her own. Saying goodbye, or evolving in tennis as she says, seems necessary.

The void that remains is huge, but his legacy will live on forever. Someone who has been an inspiration for many generations is leaving, a professional reason for many active players. It’s time to enjoy yours without the distance involved in the circuit. We will see tributes and emotional moments. One of the greatest athletes of recent decades is leaving us, a global icon beyond sport. Someone is leaving who has taken the big step: to be the bar to emulate in a time we may not even see.

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