A win in Toronto two years ago sparked Serena Williams’ comeback from injury. The 16-time grand slam winner is hoping this year’s Rogers Cup propels her onto even greater heights. Al Dannity gives his take.
We weren’t sure if she’d ever be the same. One week in Toronto changed everything. Serena Williams’ 2011 comeback from injury didn’t get off to an ideal start. The power was still there but her game appeared to be missing. A so-so showing in her warm-up event for Wimbledon was followed by an early exit at her favourite grand slam. No-one was writing her off but Tennis fans needed to see something to put their doubts at ease.
That something came at the Rogers Cup. The 2011 event saw a then 80th ranked Williams take down Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur en route to the title. Serena was back but there was still work to do. A loss in the US Open Final, to Stosur, was a step in the right direction. Early exits the following year at Melbourne and the French Open, the latter in an emotional battle with Viriginie Razzano, didn’t help. It didn’t take long for Serena to forget Paris. At Wimbledon she dominated. It was the same story at Flushing Meadows. The champ had returned and the whole Tennis world was put on notice.
Williams finally found glory in the French Open this summer but early exits at the Australian Open and SW19 ensure she remains hungry. She’s the world number 1, with a 51-3 record this season, yet still she yearns for more. The quest now as she approaches 32 is to cement her legacy as the greatest to ever play the game. That leaves her 2 behind Martin Navratilova and Chris Evert, with 18 apiece, 3 behind Margaret Court’s 19, and another 3 behind Steffi Graf’s 22. It would be a brave bettor who backed against her to catch all but Graf by the end of 2014.
How does Toronto fit into her plans? It looks like just another title. To Williams it means much more. This venue is where she found her game again. It’s where she was able to prove to herself that her game wasn’t gone. Now, in 2013, it’s where the next step of her master plan can take shape. At the Rogers Cup she can prove that Sabine Lisicki caught her on an off-day and she’s only had three of those this year. The only opponent Serena Williams has yet to best is history and it’s firmly in her sights.