Monday, September 08, 2008

Queen of the Night

Dear Tennisgods,

Thank you for such an extraordinary tennis match last night. It was easily the best US Open women's final I've ever seen live. For a change, not one was cowed by the moment. Just to win most of the points, Serena and Jelena had to travel coast to coast, north and south, just to come back to the middle to put a ball away. I was getting tired just watching the match. So much running. 6-4, 7-5. Two sets. Over two hours. Felt like the match went to a third-set tiebreak, didn't it?

Thank you for giving the divas the energy to keep it up. Jelena surprised me with how well she played and fought and wouldn't let Serena run away with it. Perhaps she might consider focusing on the match more than her own image on the jumbo tron, but whatever works.

Thank you most of all for allowing my girl to prevail. Her focus, even when her legs froze toward the end of the second set and she couldn't keep the ball in the court, was laser sharp. She almost looked like she had a flashback to that horrible night in 2004 when that chair umpire who shall not be named lost her that quarterfinal against Jennifer Capriati. Who just happened to be there last night.

It's been a long time between drinks, and I was beginning to think you had forsaken me. But it was worth the wait. Six years since Serena won her last US Open. That's the longest stretch in the Open Era between singles titles won by a woman player at the same Slam. Five years since Serena was ranked No. 1 in the world. The longest stretch since the ranking systems began for a player to fall from and return to the top of the charts.

I've never seen her so happy after winning a Slam. She looked like she was going to jump right out of the stadium. Reminded me of her big sister after winning Wimbledon in 2005 in a great, great final. And Venus was right there channeling her energy down to the court and rooting her little sister on to victory. Her father was dancing in the aisles. Her mother wore that 1,000 watt smile from ear to ear. It was a beautiful thing.

More of this, please. I don't want to be greedy, but I wouldn't mind if Serena played well enough to end the year at No. 1, which would throw all sorts of pie in the faces of her detractors. Already Chris Evert is trying to act as though he's always supported how Serena has handled herself in her career. We know better.

Whatever happens from here on out, thanks again for such a memorable match and I look forward to more.



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