Serena Williams, one of the tennis greats, recently announced that she was 20 weeks pregnant with her first baby. If you do the math, you would know that she was pregnant when she won her record 23rd slam at Melbourne in January. Gives you a jolt, doesn’t it? Well the year’s first grand slam had already squeezed a tear out of every tennis fans’ eye. What with the finals lineup looking like Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal ; Serena Williams vs Venus Williams, the golden days were surely back. Seemed someone had reversed the clock and the year was not 2017. Yet, it was and though the roll of honour did not look much different from a few years back, we now know that Federer had overcome a lot of pain and Serena had played while a life was and still is blossoming in her on their way to the title. Subtle differences, don’t you think?
Federer’s win was touted as a miracle. Understandably so, not many had given him a chance against his nemesis Nadal - who was 5 years younger to him and holding a comfortable win-loss record. And yet I say, his ever reliable forehand, the much improved slicing backhand and his attacks from the baseline were much more than just a miracle. They were the result of his hard work , the rigorous fitness training he had undergone while recovering from the knee injury and above all his unyielding passion for the game. Serena’s win on the other hand, had not surprised many. She had been in impeccable form last year and had not dropped a set on her way to the finals. Her big serve was faithfully guiding her on the quest to break Steffi Graff’s record of 22 slams. But now, with the news of her pregnancy known to all, her achievement is being seen in a different light. People are speculating, how much harder it must have been for her. But if you ask Serena herself, she probably would say it was one of her happiest slams. Because she is entering into the realm of motherhood. And for all a woman achieves in her life, motherhood completes her. Every woman has described this experience as the most beautiful and loveliest of their lives and it should not be any different for her. Her decision to go through this extraordinary phase while still on a career high speaks volumes of the woman she is and the loving mother she will become. It’s a completely different Serena, from the fiery and aggressive one we see on court.
People have begun retrospections. Suddenly her win has earned more respect, has become more of a miracle. After all, she might be the first mother-to-be to have won a slam. But wait, it’s actually much more than a miracle, it’s the extra strength motherhood brings into a woman. Eight years ago she had suffered an unexpected loss in the semi finals of the US open at the hands of someone who had returned to the circuit after having a child-Kim Clijsters. She had gone on to win the title in 2009 and the year next. She had definitely come back stronger and better than she had been. And with Williams actually getting better with age (she has won 10 of her slams after she turned 30!), her spokeswoman announcing the she would definitely return on tour in 2018, all speculations and doubts on her comeback can happily rest in the grave. Rather, her competitors can start preparing themselves being rest assured that the mother will be better than ever once she comes back and they might not even stand a chance when the 36-year-old takes the court again. It might not be long before you hear, “Serena Williams serving for game, set, match and championship” . And when you do, remember this, ‘It isn’t a miracle.’