Serena Williams tried to pass the baton to Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys when she sat out last years historic U.S. Open and watched two Black American women not named Williams duel it out for tennis supremacy at a major WTA event.
Sloane Stephens was hyped about that fat #USOpen check she’s about to cash. https://t.co/Pg0oSRAY0d
Then this past June, Serena withdrew before her fourth-round match at the French open, leaving the door open for Stephens to capture her second major title, but Stephens fell in the finals.
Now it seems that Serena will have to carry the torch for Black Girl magic in womens tennis and American dominance by herself again at Wimbledon as Stephens crashed and burned in a first-round upset, 10th-seeded Madison Keys was upset by Evgeniya Rodina and No. 9-seeded Venus Williams failed to No. 20 Kiki Bertens on Friday.
Venus gets a pass. She put in her work and is Top 5 all-time. Keys and Stephens have to do a better job of seizing the moment and the throne.
In typical fashion, Serena had a hard-fought 7-5, 7-6 win over Kristina Mladenovic on Friday. Williams is 6-0 in sets so far this open.
She’s done it! Serena Williams moves into the fourth round after defeating Kristina Mladenovic. LIVEhttps://t.co/R2HmxNLgrk @BBCOne #Wimbledon #bbctennis
No matter how much we want to anoint the next generation of Black womens tennis excellence, the dominance of Serena Williams is the only consistent factor, even in her advanced age.
When Keyes and Madison squared off in September, it was a big deal in American womens tennis.
This excerpt from a piece I wrote in 2017, Sloane Stephens Wins Her First U.S. Open Tennis Title: Black Girl Magic Is Alive and Kicking In American Women’s Tennis, explains how the tennis world felt last September.
There is life for aspiring African-American women tennis players after The Williams Sisters. The baton was officially passed on Saturday and regardless of the outcome, tennis as a whole has already gotten a boost as two fresh, beautiful, women of color reached the potential that everyone knew they had and one of them was going to come out of the day with their first majors tennis title.
The TSL article, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys And An All-American U.S. Open Final: The future of American women’s tennis is now, perfectly captured the historic and cultural significance of the match.
It’s almost unbelievable to think that this is the first time two American women will do battle in the U.S. Open final since Serena beat Venus in 2002. Even crazier than that is the fact that Stephens or Keys will become the first American woman not named Venus or Serena to win a Grand Slam title since Jennifer Capriati won the Australian Open 2002.
Despite some unexpected losses, Keys and Stephens are considered world-class tennis players and reflect their communities and families well and represent the best of what U.S. tennis has to offer the world.
They still aren’t quite ready to maintain the consistency, hunger, and desire to be the best that Venus and Serena had instilled in them at an early age by their father Richard and used as fuel for so many years. In so many electrifying tennis conquests.
It will be hard for Keys and Stephens to remain a marquee, must see, highly-carved match up, if they dont hold up their ends of the bargain and advance to at; east the semifinals of all grand slam events.
Until then, however, we will do as we have for two decades now and root for the superhero that is Serena Williams. Nothing can stop her. Not age, the near-death experience during childbirth, a new baby and a relatively new husband could knock her hustle. The physically and emotionally draining lifestyle that she lives was no match for her fighting spirit. No need to expedite her exit while we can still enjoy the legendary exploits of The GOAT.