October 28, 2013 by Parveer Mann
Originally published on Back Row Sports
It’s tough finding new ways to describe the type of season that Serena Williams has had in 2013. It lacks the sizzle of the Serena Slam in 2002/2003 or the Summer of Serena we saw in 2012 when she was unstoppable during the London Olympics, Wimbledon and the US Open. However, after winning her fourth WTA Championships, 11th title in 2013 and 78th match, it might be her most impressive yet.
Another victory in Istanbul
In Sunday’s final, there were multiple times in the second set that things seemed to be unraveling for Williams and it was becoming a real possibility that Li Na would pull off the major upset. It seemed to be one of those rare occasions when Serena was being outplayed by a player who looked neither afraid nor lacked the big shots to make it happen (a la Sabine Lisicki in Wimbledon this year).
But then it happened like it has almost every time this year , a stray shot by her opponent, a fierce forehand and a chance to serve it out and she was out of trouble and into a third set. Just in case you were wondering, that third set was ho-hum (6-0) and ended emphatically on her 30th winner of the night. Both times this weekend (against Na and Jankovic in the semis), Serena was absolutely challenged and she probably should have lost at least one of those matches. But that is the appeal of her 2013 season, she never gave in and suffered those cheap losses that have littered her past. She played like the number one almost every tournament, match and hell even every set. Like I said at the start, 2013 might ultimately lack the sizzle of other Serena years but if you look closer, it was as good or better than almost anything she has ever done.
Some interesting notes about Serena’s 2013 season:
1. The 82 matches this year (she went 78-4) is the most she’s played in her entire career. Her previous high was 62 and at 32, it will be interesting to see if that type of schedule has any negative impact on what should be an impressive 2014.
2. Her fourth WTA Championships means she joins Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert as the only WTA players to win as many. It also underlines the new reality that those four women are clearly the starting point for any greatest of all time discussion.
3. She won over $12.3 million in 2013 (the most in WTA history) and her prize earnings for 2013 alone would rank her 17th on the career money list (excluding her own total).