June 9, 2013 by Parveer Mann
Upon winning her second French Open title (first since 2002) over Maria Sharapova in a close but still comfortable two sets I could not help but think back to something Serena said before the tournament. When asked about whom her toughest challenger would be this year coming into Paris, she remarked, “The lady in the mirror is the ultimate opponent for me.”
Those were blunt words that made perfect sense for a player who even though came in having won 24 straight matches still had to remember her shocking first round exit in 2012. To paraphrase the great Michael Jackson song, she would only really need to look inward if she wanted to get past previous failures in Paris and once again raise the Lenglen trophy.
I’m Starting With The Lady In
(Lady In The Mirror-Oh
I’m Asking Her To Change
I could only believe in this case that the lady in the mirror was smiling back at Serena after these two past weeks
A Calmer Serena
I cannot help but notice how Serena has controlled the ‘lady in the mirror’ by showing a renewed sense of calmness on court. She has fewer displays of emotion or frustration but that does not mean she has lost her competitive drive or killer instinct, it just seems to be handled internally. Gone are the outbursts that hurt her so publicly in the ’09 and ’11 US Opens, instead she is more reserved on court and that has helped her not make any erroneous errors.
I’m sure part of the reason is the gradual maturation and self-awareness that she has developed since her health scare. She senses that she can really do something special every time she steps out on the court and wants to see how much she still can achieve.
An exclusive club of champions
This victory was extra significant because she now joins the exclusive group of Evert, Navratilova and Graf as the only players to win each slam at least twice in the Open era. We are also potentially looking at Serena tying Chris and Martina’s total of 18 by the end of this year (she will be a heavy favourite at both Wimbledon and New York).
I’m sure she has all these markers in the back of her head as she tries to remain motivated and playing at this incredible level when she turns 32 this summer!