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Serena Williams Wins First Grand Slam Title | 1999 US Open

December 10, 2019

In the twilight of her career Serena was always
in the shadows of her big sister Venus. Just after her 17th birthday Venus reached
the finals of her very first US Open in 1997. While the elder sister was cracking the top
five and taking titles, Serena was stuck title less and struggling to go deep at the majors. That was, until 1999. *1999 Prince Instrumental* Though losing early in Australia, Serena pushed
two top 15 players to the brink falling to Steffi Graf in Sydney and Sandrine Testud
at the Australian Open. Her next tournament after Melbourne was the
Open Gaz de France in which she finally broke through winning her first title over home
favorite Amelie Mauresmo. This would only be the beginning for her as
she would then pick up by far the biggest title of her career at that time: Indian Wells
beating 3 top ten players including Lindsay Davenport and then Steffi Graf in the finals. Serena extended her streak to 16 before losing
in the finals of the Miami Open to sister Venus in 3 sets. It wasn’t a total loss though as Serena
posted 2 top 5 wins beating number 3 Monica Seles and number 1 Martina Hingis both in
straight sets. The clay curt season wouldn’t be as successful
though as she lost in the Quarters of both the Rome Open and German Open. She then suffered another grand slam early
exit losing in the third round of the French Open. In the next grand slam, Wimbledon, Serena
didn’t even compete due to a flu and high fever she obtained before the start of the
tournament. After this though, another winning streak
would continue with Serena returning to play at the Acura Classic winning that tournament,
beating number one Martina Hingis in the process. This would be her only hard court tournament
before the start of the US Open. Despite this being the first time Serena had
positive results immediately preceding a major tournament, oddsmakers and critics still overlooked
her as a true threat to win the tournament. Instead the tournament favorite was reigning
Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport. Serena’s father Richard saw differently
though and actually predicted an all-Williams final. Serena started her campaign against fellow
American Kimberly Po, crushing her 61 60. She then faced Crotian qualifier Jelena Kostanic
recovering from an early deficit to take her out 4 & 2. The easy matches would be no more for Serena
from that point forward as she would next be brought to the test against 16 year old
Belgian Kim Clijsters. Kim’s consistency and Serena’s inconsistency
contributed to a 6-4 first set win to the former player. Serena then cleaned up her game to handily
take the second set 6-2. While you think Serena would from then on
steamroll the more inexperienced player, Kim looked to do this herself as she took a 5-3
lead serving for the match. Serena being the comeback queen then won 16
of the last 17 points to take the set and the match. In her round of 16 match against Conchita
Martinez, Williams would once again drop the first set 4-6 before storming back to claim
the second 6-2. She continued this momentum into the third
winning in with the same score. This win also marked the first time she advance
to the quarters of a grand slam. In the last 8, Serena would play a blockbuster
under the lights against hall-of-famer and tennis great Monica Seles. For the 3rd straight match in a row Serena
would lose the first set 6-4. It would also be the 3rd straight match in
a row where she would then win the next 2 sets, as she took out her compatriot 46 63
63. In the semifinals, Serena would face another
American, #2 seed and defending champion Lindsay Davenport. After a 5 hour rain-induced delay the match
finally begun. Despite being the lower ranked player, Serena
would have the edge as she was 2-0 over her that year, so far. Williams looked to make it 3-0 as she took
an early lead and winning the first set 6-4. However, Lindsay was not eager to let yet
another loss come her way as she would take the second empathically 6-1. The third set was was very similar to the
first as it had the same scoreline and result, with Serena taking it 6-4 to advance to her
first grand slam final. In the second semifinal Venus looked to join
Serena for a family affair on Saturday as she would take on Swiss Miss Martina Hingis. Like the prior semi, this match would be an
absolute dog fight in which Hingis won 61 46 63. She was the fitter player when it really mattered,
while her opponent Venus struggled as her legs were taken over my cramps. Though happy and relieved she made it through,
Martina wasn’t to keen of having to another Williams Sister as this is what she told the
press post-victory: ”Another one? I was so far never able at the same tournament
to beat both of them. But I just didn’t want that finals to happen:
Williams-Willliams.” Though it was no Williams sister Final, Serena
vs Hingis would still be highly sought after mostly due to what was said off court by each
player. When asked about the Williams sisters and
the pressure on them, she answered: When caught wind of this Serena fired back
saying: Two years prior the eldest Williams would
take on Martina Hingis in the Us open finals and was shaky and visibly nervous. This time around though the younger sister
Serena was determined and prepared to win. When watching her sister and Hingis play,
no matter the opponent she made it clear she would be ready saying, “I don’t care who
I play now. I’m ready.” To ensure her readiness, she grabbed a court
after Martina clinched the victory to work on her strokes for half an hour. Serena started off the match with a tough
hold and then immediately broke Hingis’ serve. She was able to maintain this break advantage
throughout this entire set to take it with a score of 6-3 in 37 minutes. Serena continued her dominance into the second
set go pick up another early break and kept it to go up 5-3. Serena then had 2 match points in this game
but was unable to cease these opportunities and ended up dropping the game. When trying to serve the match out at 5-4,
Williams faltered and lost the game. In the next two games both ladies held to
push the set to a tiebreaker. Neither game an other an inch at the start
of the tiebreak with the first eight points being split evenly at 4 a piece. On a Hingis 2nd serve Serena just went for
it and was successful giving her a mini break to go up 5-4. The two engaged in another long and physical
rally that brought Serena up to the net, Martina’s best chance to win the point was to hit a
topspin lob which she did, but unfortunately for her it landed just wide. Now on her 3rd match point Serena would be
vying to close out it on her on serve. It was now on her terms to make history and
become the first black woman to win this very tournament since Althea Gibson did it back in 1958. Serena’s Win meant a lot for not only her family but for
the community in general. It proved that no matter how much money you
have or where you come from, anything is truly possible as this black girl from Compton won
a grand slam at 17 years old. Not only did Serena win the singles competition
this year but she won the doubles event as well. In addition to this, Serena also received
a 2 million dollar bonus from clothing sponsor puma, as she made a deal with then owner Arnon
Milchan before the tournament telling him that she would indeed win, which she did. Though Venus was happy for her sister, she
was equally disappointed and bitter that it wasn’t her instead to hold the trophy and
make history for her family. Though she initially stated that her subdued
demeanor during the match was attributed to the sun making her sleepy, her mother Oracene
would later reveal that it was extremely difficult to deal with the fact that she wasn’t the
first. “Venus didn’t sleep, and I felt her emotion
all night, so I couldn’t sleep well either,” “She thinks since she’s the oldest, she should’ve
been the first, that maybe she should’ve been tougher. That’s something they’ve thought about all
their lives: Meeting in a final, two sisters. She feels she let everybody down.” Venus would later explain in her and Serena’s
documentary that Serena’s Win helped her at the time because for a long while she didn’t
know how to win. She said that Serena taught her this and the
lesson proved to be very effective as she would win 4 out of the next 8 grand slam tournaments. When reflecting on her biggest career moments
Serena always mentions this title win because it was a kickstarter of her career and even
set the foundation for the rest of her career. Serena ending up giving her father her trophy,
because she said she’d win a lot more, and though her next one wouldn’t arrive until
almost 3 years later, Serena backed up her statement X23 and counting.

1 Comment

  • Reply Amelia Sang August 21, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Serena is a legend❤

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