Stats & Info: serena williams

40th anniversary of "Battle of the Sexes"

May, 13, 2013
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Focus on Sport/Getty Images
The first “Battle of the Sexes” set up opportunities for other significant women-versus-men competitions, such as Billie Jean King’s defeat of Bobby Riggs in 1973.

On May 13, 1973 (Mother’s Day), 55-year-old Bobby Riggs beat Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1 in a contest branded “Battle of the Sexes.” The importance of the match could not be overstated as the women’s liberation movement was in its infancy.

It helped legitimize women in athletics and set a model that others have followed.

You may have heard about Billie Jean King beating Riggs in “Battle of the Sexes.” That was actually the second version, played Sept. 20, 1973, as King won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. And there have been subsequent “Battle of the Sexes” including one featuring Martina Navratilova and Jimmy Connors in 1992.

Below is a progression of women competing against men since the 1970s.

Notable women competing head-to-head against men

1977 - MOTORSPORTS: In 1977, Janet Guthrie became the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500. She was also the first woman to compete in the Daytona 500.

1979 – NBA: In 1979, the Indiana Pacers signed Ann Meyers to one-year contract. Meyers is the first woman signed by an NBA team. She was cut seven days after signing.

1984 – LITTLE LEAGUE: Victoria Roche of Brussels, Belgium, became the first girl to play in the Little League World Series.

1993 – HORSE RACING: Julie Krone became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race, winning the Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair.

1993 – HOCKEY: Manon Rheaume became the first female to play in the NHL. The Canadian-born goaltender played two preseason games for the Lightning.

1997 – BASEBALL: Ila Borders became the first woman to play in a professional baseball game. She pitched for the St. Paul Saints.

2001 – FOOTBALL: Jacksonville State's Ashley Martin became the first woman to play and score in a Division I football game. She made three extra points.

2003 - GOLF: Annika Sorenstam became the first woman to play in a PGA tour event since Babe Didrikson 58 years earlier.

2003 – LACROSSE: New Jersey Storm goalie Ginny Capicchioni became the first woman to compete in the National Lacrosse League, playing nearly 12 minutes.

2006 - WRESTLING: Michaela Hutchison won Alaska's 103-pound wresting final to become the first girl in the nation to win a state title against boys.

2009 - FISHING: Kim Bain became the first woman to compete in the Bassmaster Classic in the event's 38-year history. She finished in 47th place.

Female athletes head-to-head against men this year

Danica Patrick: In February 2013, Danica Patrick won the pole at the Daytona 500, the first woman to ever clinch a Cup Series pole. She’s the first woman ever to lead a lap at Daytona. She finished eighth.

Lauren Silberman: Just a week later, Lauren Silberman became the first woman in history to try out for the NFL when the kicker participated in the Jets' regional combine, but she attempted just two kicks before stopping due to injury.

Rosie Napravnik: Rosie Napravnik finished fifth aboard Mylute in May’s Kentucky Derby, the highest finish by a female jockey. She held the previous record when she finished ninth in 2011.

Venus and Serena Williams: Serena and Venus Williams said they could beat any men's player ranked 200 or lower. At the Australian Open, they individually played a set each against the 203rd-ranked player, Karsten Braasch. Serena fell 6-1, Venus 6-2.

Nadal, Djokovic renew grand rivalry

June, 24, 2012
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Getty ImagesRafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Feder are the favorites to win Wimbledon this year.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have built up quite the rivalry in the last year. They have met up in the final of the last four Grand Slams with each match going at least four sets.

The last player to reach a Grand Slam final other than Djokovic and Nadal was Roger Federer at the 2011 French Open. Federer is also the last one other than the duo to win a Grand Slam, doing so at the 2010 Australian Open. Since then, Djokovic and Nadal have combined to win the last nine majors.

After going 0-6 against Djokovic in 2011, Nadal has turned the tables this year. Since losing at the Australian Open, Nadal has beaten the Serbian star three times – although each of those wins came on clay.

Whenever Nadal wins his next Grand Slam, he will tie Roy Emerson for third-most major titles in men’s tennis history with 12.

Federer meanwhile has been able to remain in contention, remarkably reaching the quarterfinals in an Open Era-record 32 straight Grand Slams. To put it in perspective, the last time Federer failed to reach the quarters at a slam (2004 French Open), Novak Djokovic was over half a year away from making his Grand Slam debut.

Of Federer’s 16 slams, six have come at Wimbledon. So although he arrives at the All England club as an underdog, Federer certainly has history on his side.

A win here for the Swiss great would tie Pete Sampras for the most Wimbledon titles in the Open Era. Federer would also jump both Djokovic and Nadal in the rankings and rise to No. 1 for the first time in over two years.

LADIES TOP RANKING NO SURE THING
The No. 1 ranking is also up for grabs on the women’s side. Maria Sharapova got back to the top spot for the first time since 2008 after her dominating win at the French Open. Her stay at the top could be short lived as she can only keep the top ranking with a win at Wimbledon.

Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska can each grab the top spot in the rankings by winning Wimbledon. Radwanska would also need Sharapova and Azarenka to get ousted before the final.

Serena and Venus Williams have each battled injury and illness in the last couple of years. Neither sister lasted long at Roland Garros. Venus lost in the second round and Serena was ousted in the first round – the first time that has ever happened to her at a Grand Slam.

But when it comes to Wimbledon, you can’t count out the Williams sisters. They have combined to win nine out of the last 12 Wimbledon titles.

Is a Djoker Slam in the cards?

May, 26, 2012
5/26/12
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Getty Images/US PresswireRafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are two of the favorites at the French Open this year.
World number one since last July and the winner of four of the last five majors, Novak Djokovic has been on quite a ride in the past year. The one major hiccup was his loss in the semifinals of the French Open last year to Roger Federer.

There is plenty at stake this year at Roland Garros for Djokovic. Having won the last three Grand Slams, he is seeking to become the first player to hold all four majors at once since Rod Laver completed the calendar-year Slam in 1969.

If he wins the French, Djokovic would become the eighth man to complete the career Grand Slam – a feat his rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal have already accomplished.

Despite his hot streak, Djokovic isn’t the betting favorite. That distinction goes to Nadal, who has owned the red clay in Paris. The six-time French Open champion is 45-1 in his career at the event. And the only man to beat him – Robin Soderling – withdrew from this year’s tournament.

Last year Nadal had trouble against Djokovic, losing all six meetings. That trend continued at Melbourne Park this year when Djokovic beat Nadal in an instant classic, but Rafa has turned things around by beating Djokovic in the finals at Monte Carlo and Rome.

Federer fans are hoping the Swiss great can remember how to drop the hammer. In each of the last three Grand Slams, he’s been eliminated in a match he led. Most recently this year at the Australian Open, he had the momentum against Nadal after winning the first set tiebreak, before falling in four sets.

Federer’s incredible 31-tournament streak of reaching the Grand Slam quarterfinals is still intact, but he hasn’t made a final since doing so at this event last year.

Tobias Kamke will be Federer’s opening round opponent. The two have never faced off, but a win for Federer would tie Jimmy Connors for the most Grand Slam match wins in the Open Era with 233.

Women’s title up for grabs
Whereas the men’s tournaments have been very predictable, anything goes on the women’s side. The last five Grand Slams have been won by five different women, and the last four have been first-time Grand Slam winners.

Victoria Azarenka has played the best so far this year, winning the Australian Open to go along with three other tournaments.

But she has come up empty since the clay season started, losing to Maria Sharapova in the Stuttgart final and then to Serena Williams in the Madrid final. In neither match did Azarenka put up much of a fight, winning five games against Sharapova and four against Williams.

Speaking of Williams, she enters the French Open on a 17-match winning streak, although she was forced to withdraw from the final tune-up at Rome. Williams hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the 2010 Wimbledon and her only French Open title came back in 2002.

New generation of U.S. women's tennis?

September, 2, 2011
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Serena Williams made it easily through to the third round of the U.S. Open Thursday, dropping a total of three games through two matches. She is joined there by four other American women -- Sloane Stephens, Christina McHale, Irina Falconi and Vania King.

As the Williams Sisters have struggled through injury and illness in the past year -- Stephens, McHale, Falconi and King could represent the next generation of American women's tennis. Each is 22 years old or younger. Each reached the third round by taking out a seeded player, the most impressive win being McHale's upset of eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli.

The last time five American women made it to the third round at Flushing Meadows was in 2004 when eight Americans made it that far, led by eventual semifinalists Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport.

When it comes to women 22 and under, the last time four or more made the third round at the U.S. Open was in 2000 according to the WTA Tour. That year 20-year-old Venus Williams won her first U.S. Open title, while sister Serena made the quarterfinals.

The play of the four young Americans has been surprising in that for the most part, they have never been here before. The one exception is King who has made the third round in a Grand Slam two previous times (losing both times).

For Stephens, the only wildcard remaining in the field, this is her second Grand Slam appearance after losing in the first round at this year's French Open. Falconi is playing in her fifth career Grand Slam, but until this tournament had never won a match on the big stage.

McHale may be the one to really watch as she makes her first trip to the third round of a Grand Slam (eighth appearance).

She's had a few big wins this year -- beating world number one Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in Cincinnati and beating two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova twice -- in New Haven and Indian Wells.

Clijsters' U.S. Open streak on hold again

August, 19, 2011
8/19/11
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Kim Clijsters
Clijsters
Kim Clijsters' withdrawal from the U.S. Open comes as no surprise given her injuries this year. Since losing in the second round of the French Open to the Netherlands' Arantxa Rus, Clijsters has played just three matches.

In her most recent match -- against China's Zheng Ji at the Rogers Cup in Toronto earlier this month -- Clijsters won the first set, but was forced to retire with an abdominal injury.

Due to a combination of injuries and retirement, the current world No. 3 hasn't played at all four Grand Slams in a calendar year since 2003. After winning just one Grand Slam prior to retiring in 2007 to start a family, the Belgian star has won three majors since returning in 2009 -- all on hard courts.

In her career, Clijsters has won the U.S. Open three times, tied for fourth-most in the Open Era. The only players to win more at Flushing Meadows in the Open Era are Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

Since 2003, Clijsters is the fourth reigning U.S. Open women's champion to not come back to defend her title. Serena Williams didn't play in 2003 following left knee surgery, Clijsters didn't play in 2006 following wrist surgery and Justine Henin retired several months after winning the 2007 U.S. Open (she too would make a comeback).

Clijsters’ three U.S. Open wins have come in her last three appearances at the event (2005, 2009, 2010). Her active streak of 21 straight match wins at the U.S. Open is the second longest in Open Era history behind only Chris Evert's 31 straight in the mid to late 1970s.

Unfortunately for Clisters, her streak will have to wait at least another year to get extended.

Contenders emerge in Williams-less French

May, 21, 2011
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Although American men’s tennis has struggled at the majors in recent years, American women have been a force – almost entirely on the strength of Venus and Serena Williams.

Unfortunately injuries knocked both sisters out of the 2011 French Open. With the withdrawals, the French Open will not feature a seeded American woman for the first time in the Open Era (1968).

While Venus had played in the last 16 Grand Slam events, Serena hasn't played on tour since last year's Wimbledon. Dating back to when Serena played in her first Grand Slam as a professional at the 1998 Australian Open, the only Grand Slam in which neither Williams sister played was the 2003 US Open.

Three women have combined to win the last seven Grand Slam titles dating back to Wimbledon in 2009. The younger Williams and Kim Clijsters have three each while last year’s French Open champion Francesca Schiavone has the other.

When Clijsters retired in 2007, she had one major title – the 2005 US Open. Since returning to the WTA Tour in 2009, Clijsters has won three of the five Grand Slams she has played including the last two.

However, the Belgian hasn’t played at Roland Garros since reaching the semifinals in 2006. Her best result at the French is runner-up in both 2001 and 2003.

Caroline Wozniacki – the world’s number one - is the betting favorite according to MGM Resorts International, but she is still seeking her first major title. Her best finish at a Grand Slam is runner-up at the 2009 US Open.

Another player to watch is Maria Sharapova. She won the French Open tune-up at Rome and beat three Top-10 players – Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur - on her way to the title. With a win in Paris, Sharapova will complete the career Grand Slam, having won Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.

Serena an ace at returns

April, 13, 2011
4/13/11
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With news Serena Williams has returned to the practice court, many will wonder if/when she will play at a Grand Slam this year. Williams has missed 10 Grand Slam events in her career, including the last two (2011 Australian Open, 2010 US Open).

After missing a Grand Slam (or two) she has usually not shown much rust in her first Grand Slam back. Twice she has won the subsequent tournament, including in 2002, when after missing the Australian Open she went on to start the 'Serena Slam' -- winning the next four Grand Slams.

However, the two times Williams made a comeback after missing multiple Grand Slams -- as she will whenever she makes her return this time around -- she was eliminated in the quarterfinals (2004 French Open) and the 4th round (2006 US Open).

Williams was ranked No. 1 in the world following her win at 2010 Wimbledon. Despite not playing in nearly 10 months, she is still ranked No. 10. In fact she was No. 1 as late as October 2010 before being passed by Caroline Wozniacki -- the current world No. 1. Williams' No. 10 ranking is her first double-digit ranking since ranking 11th in March 2008.

The French Open starts May 17 which doesn’t give Williams much time to prepare if she's pondering a return. It is also her worst Grand Slam event as she has won there just once -- in 2002. Since reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2003, Williams has not been past the quarterfinals.

It is hard to doubt Williams once she is on the court though. She has won five of the last eight Grand Slams she has entered. Not known for being very competitive in recent years in non-Grand Slam events, Williams always ramps up her game when the Grand Slams are on the line. Since the 2008 US Open, Williams is 35-15 in non-Grand Slam matches, but is 48-3 in Grand Slam matches.

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