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My late wife was a pretty good athlete. Few of her peers could hang with her. I wish I'd had an opportunity to see her in action way back in the day. Basketball (a female Wes Unseld, her favorite player). Field hockey. Lacrosse too, if I'm not mistaken, though I still confuse the two sports. Nevermind, she made headlines.
Sadly, I met her after her athletic exploits but it's clear from oral and recorded history that she was, in the words of the frustratingly grating (and endearing) Larry David, of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Seinfeld' fame, "pretty ... pretty ... pretty good."
Smart, too. Earned a doctorate in education. No wonder I fell for her.
Serena Williams is and was a step (or many steps) beyond my Lori as an athlete. And every other female athlete I've ever known or seen.
Serena is, for those of us who've watched her compete, the single greatest female athlete in human history. That's my opinion, of course, and you cannot talk me down from that very high ledge. I'm thrilled I got a chance to see her do her thing in-person, in Rio, at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
In a word ... she's magical!
When Americans talk about greatest athletes, it's usually men who are mentioned, even when a woman is polled for her opinion. Rare is the sports fan who mentions the likes of Cheryl Miller, Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Teresa Weatherspoon, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, in basketball; Katie Ledecky and Janet Evans, in swimming; Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam, in golf; Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, in skiing; Simone Biles, Nadia Comaneci and Olga Korbut, in gymnastics; Katarina Witt, Peggy Fleming, Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski, in figure skating; Claressa Shields in boxing; Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Allyson Felix and Wilma Rudolph, on the track; Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe, in soccer; and Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Steffi Graf, and the aforementioned Serena and her sister Venus Williams, in tennis.
And, yes, I realize I've probably left off dozens of others worthy of being included in this list.
The point is, there's only one Serena. And she stands alone, as far as I'm concerned, with the greatest male athletes in history, as the best who've put their talents forward for all of us to enjoy.
Consider her numbers, shall we?
Twenty-three grand-slam singles titles (23!!!); 14 doubles grand slams; Olympic gold in singles, three golds in doubles; and a host of other crowns.
Folks, if you didn't know ... now you know!
She's one of a kind!
And she's absolutely crushing it as an advertising star! One of my faves...
In case you're a bit slower than the rest, I am a HUGE fan of Serena Williams.
She and her sister are featured in a new movie, released this month, titled for their father, "King Richard," starring Will Smith as their dad.
I have yet to see it. Please don't ruin it for me. No spoilers! It's on my list. I promise!
Seeing Serena in top form is a thing of beauty, power and majesty. Her serve chokes me up. Whooosh! Boom! Ace! Her return-serve is wicked good. And that guttural scream she releases after making a big point makes me want to put on too-tight white shorts and head to the clay myself!
When I started SPORTSOPOLY late this summer, an interview with Serena was No. 1 on my list. So I contacted an old friend who's in the tennis world and asked for her contact info. I got it. Reached out. And I'm still waiting to land this biggie. Holding out hope she'll say, 'Yes,' one of these days, so I can offer you a proper tribute to this once-in-a-lifetime sports superstar.
In the meantime, she just turned 40 in late September; been married to Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of Reddit, since 2017; and is a mom, of adorable daughter, Olympia, now 4.
My older brother, Ray, and I used to play tennis here and there when we were teens (Salvation Army thrift store rackets, if I recall), on a public court we walked a good distance to reach. He was always better (arrrghhh!). I loved the game then. Love it even more now. It is difficult to master.
Serena Williams has more than mastered this grand game. And I hold my breath in every major she enters, hoping it will be -- finally -- the one that ties her with the great Margaret Court for most Slams among women.
When and if she accomplishes that, I will excise some serious savings to watch her go for the record, wherever in the world that may be.
Because there's only one Serena. And one only lives once.
That's my take. What's yours? Fire off your comments!