Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Serena Williams appears to be on track to win another major tennis tournament. As far and away the #1 female player in the world, it would be almost shocking if she didn't add this year's Wimbledon title to her already impressive resume. One never knows if and when an injury may occur but, barring that, Serena's been on a roll of late demolishing opponents.

That's a good thing for Americans in two ways. First, when Serena loses, we always have to listen to the whiny excuses. If it wasn't cramps, it was sunspots. Or food poisoning. Or aliens conspiring against her. It was always something. On the rare occasion Williams was defeated she could never woman-up and just admit she got beat fair and square.

The other reason is Serena Williams represents the only decent player Americans have to offer these days at the highest levels of tennis.

Look down the list of the women's rankings. The next American is her sister Venus, who's ranked 16th. While once a force, few would doubt Venus is on the back side of her bell curve. Has been for a few years. Venus can dust off a couple early round powder puff opponents in any given tournament to earn a paycheck, but she's never going to win anything of note again. Beyond VW, one can find such unnotable American names as Sloane Stevens and Madison Keys further on down the list. They're good, but there's a legion of European players that are better. When Serena hangs up her racket in a year or two, good luck waiting for the next lady American champion. It could be a while.

It's much worse on the men's side. For the most part, there's the Big Four. Novac Djovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka. A Serb, a Swiss, a Brit, and another Swiss. Yes, Rafael Nadal, a Spaniard, always lurks. But after suffering various physical ailments, or perhaps fighting off (or not) the hoard of beautiful women that would love his "companionship", his game seems to have tailed off. He's a handsome rascal and with that, plus the millions of dollars, let's just say Rafi isn't exacting hurting for Grade A female company if he so chooses.

Yes, much like Serena, Federer is towards the end of his career as well. But top-ranked Djovic could hang for a few more years, as could Wawrinka. Murray's long been a terrific player, but he mostly seems to be second best.

Thing is, the top ranked American these days is John Isner. He checks in at #17. When's the last time you heard of him winning anything? Guys named John Sock (31st) and Sam Querrey (44th) are in the rankings. Ever hear of them? For that matter, there are only 5 American male tennis players ranked in the top 100 worldwide. Like the ladies' side of the ledger, the men's rankings are chock full of European players.

So Americans would be well served to enjoy Serena Williams' success while it lasts. When Father Time comes a-calling for her tennis prowess in the near future -- as he surely will -- let's hope we won't have to listen to another world-class whine out of Serena blaming global El Nino, Tea Party advocates, or the Bruce/Caitlin thing working in tandem against her. Sometimes it's just time. Stars rise and fall and others take their place. Tiger Woods knows a little bit about that -- or at least he should.

But when Serena is gone, Americans might well find the tennis cupboard quite bare for many years to come......

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