Serena Williams’ name has been at the forefront of the ‘GOAT debate’ in tennis for many years, owing to the manner in which she has dominated the sport. The American legend herself recently opened up about her place in the debate and reflected on her achievement of winning a Grand Slam tournament while pregnant, and that too without dropping a set.
According to many of her colleagues, Williams’ impact and achievements go way beyond just tennis, and Naomi Osaka recently shed light on Williams’ contribution to inspiring a whole generation of tennis players. According to Osaka, Serena Williams is the greatest athlete of all time, across sports. Reacting to Osaka’s comments, Williams confidently expressed pride in her unique achievement.
“I don’t know any other person that has won a Grand Slam or a championship in the NBA or anything else nine weeks pregnant,” Serena Williams said during a recent interview with TIME.
“I have so many good memories of the last time I was here, honestly, it’s just literally the best win of my career.”
—Serena Williams reflects on winning the Australian Open in 2017, when she was pregnant
“I have so many good memories of the last time I was here, honestly, it’s just literally the best win of my career.”—Serena Williams reflects on winning the Australian Open in 2017, when she was pregnant https://t.co/q4j2UjoGms
Williams won the 2017 Australian Open in straight sets while she was nine weeks pregnant with her daughter Olympia at the age of 35. She defeated the likes of Belinda Bencic, Lucie Safarova, Johanna Konta, Barbora Strycova, and her sister Venus Williams, among others, en route to the title.
Williams further reflected on her approach during the tournament and how she won against the odds, relying on her mental strength above all else.
“A two-week event. That tournament, I relied on my brain. An athlete isn’t just about what an animal you are physically, like a specimen. It’s using everything. Your mind, your body, everything. And doing that for 20 years. And doing it against people that come against you and play the best game of their life. Every single time,” Williams added.
Osaka expressed that while Williams is set to retire after the 2022 US Open, her tennis legacy will continue to live on through women of color in the sport, who have gained inspiration from the American superstar.
“I remember as a kid watching in awe, and I was so happy to be seeing a strong Black woman on my screen,” Osaka said about Serena Williams in an interview with TIME.
“Even though she is retiring, her legacy definitely lives on through Coco [Gauff], Sloane [Stephens], Madison [Keys], and other women of color at the top of their game. Serena is unequivocally the best athlete ever. Forget female athlete, I mean athlete. No one else has changed her sport as much as she did and against all odds,” she added.
“I wouldn’t be here without Serena and her whole family. She is the biggest force in the sport.”
Naomi Osaka with a touching tribute for Serena Williams ahead of the US Open