Serena Williams’ victory over Swede Johanna Larsson at the US Open saw her secure her 307th triumph at Grand Slam level, surpassing Martina Navratilova and drawing level with Roger Federer. While Federer’s powers seemed to have waned over the past few years, Williams is still looking imperious, and she will be looking to reach another milestone – becoming the first player to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles (she currently holds the record along with Steffi Graf).
This latest Major has provided considerable cause for optimism among British tennis fans, who have been resigned to Andy Murray being the nation’s sole representative in the latter stages of a big competition. Despite her elimination at the hands of Anastasija Sevastova, Johanna Konta has shown this year that she can compete with and outclass some of the game’s most promising talents. Kyle Edmund has the weapons to be a force on the big stage for many years to come, while Dan Evans is finally realising the potential that was untapped throughout his early 20s.
However, it seems that in this country players who experience an upturn in fortunes having gone off the rails are admired far more than someone who has consistently applied themselves in their career. This was seen most clearly with the story of Marcus Willis, who has openly admitted that he lost his way in the game, began drinking far too much and eating badly. The endearing nature of his resurgence is perhaps explained by the fact that the majority of fans can sympathise with becoming despondent or demotivated. However, while his journey is a compelling and necessary story to tell, it is the careers that are defined by consistent improvement and progression that are the most incredible of all. In the modern era, there is no better example than Serena Williams.
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