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The serene Serena
July 17 , 2013

Not many growing girls can fathom why their parents push them through rigorous training exercises that span two hours daily, while their mates prefer to go to movies, Halloween, and amusement grounds. Her father saw to it that his two young adorable girls were grounded and groomed to succeed even from their early yearsóusing tennis training materials, he ushered her into a world that will later shape who she is and who she becomes. Through thick and thin, sweat and sometimes blood, on tennis courts that were riddled with chuckholes and most times with torn nets or no net at all, Serena and her sister Venus sharpen their horns on the illustrious game of lawn tennis and from there Serena learned the fundamental essentials for endurance in a tough world on court, for she was groomed in the court.  

The Michigan-born American tennis player (September 26, 1981) was raised in a family comprising five daughters. Learning to play lawn tennis at that early age played a major role in defining who she will eventually become. She grew up in California, and that was where she and her sister got tutored rigorously by their father in a tennis court close to the family home.

Along with her sister, she became a professional tennis player in 1995, starting with various triumphs in different places against high-profile tennis players. Through sheer determination and hard work, she moved up the World Tennis Association (WTA) ladder from 304 to number 99, all in the space of just 12 months. She graduated from high school a year later and put pen on paper to sign a lucrative $12 million shoe deal with kit-maker giant, Puma.

It has been a mix of ups and downs for Serena Williams. Her beloved sister, Yetunde Price, was murdered in Los Angeles in 2003. This incident was so traumatizing to the point that it really affected her clout in the court for some years. She lost the motivation and the steam she possessed, been riddled by bouts of injuring didnít help either as she struggled to stay fit to compete in tournaments. In 2009, she slumped to a demoralizing 139 position on the WTA ranking. She was later involved in an incident with a lineswoman in 2009 and the official alleged Serena threatened her life and that led to the U.S. Tennis Association placing a huge fine on her. She was subsequently placed on probation for two years.

Being a go-getter, she tried hard to move on from these crises, and her efforts really paid off in early 2010 when she competed in the Australian Open and the Wimbledon championship and won the singles and doubles matches in the former and grabbed, also, her fourth singles in the latter.

2011, she suffered a minor setback again; she was diagnosed of a blood clot in one of her lungs, and this forced her away from the sport for several months. She underwent the scalpel for surgeries to correct this, as her health suffered greatly that it seemed she was never going to return to the sport. But September that same year, she began to pick up form again. At a post-match interview after winning the Bank of the West Classic final, she said, "but it’s all about, for me, how you recover. I think I’ve always said a champion isn’t about how much they win, but it’s about how they recover from their downs, whether it’s an injury or whether it’s a loss."

In court, her athletic strength and sheer power made her very overwhelming whenever she is playing against an opponent, and out of court her great stylishness and sense of vogue made her a queen celebrity. Still relishing her dominance in court as ever at an age when most tennis players are wounding up or losing their grip of the racket, with 31 Grand Slams and other trophies in her kitty, Serena Williams is not ready to quit the stage yet, rather she is gearing up for more stretch of winnings and trophies. 

When the great and best athletes are discussed, women are seldom included; itís a menís caucus but Serena, I think, has broken that jinx. History will remember her as one of the greatest tennis players ever.

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Learn more about this author, Odunayo Iyiola.
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