As we gear up for the 2013 Australian Open women’s final in a few hours, I thought it would be fun to do a quick look back at what the tennis world looked like 10 years ago. Here’s a hint: it was heavy on the Williams.
That’s right, this (actually today, the 25th) is the 10th anniversary of the Serena Slam! At the 2003 Australian Open, Serena overcame an epic battle with Kim Clijsters in the semis and then survived an error-filled thriller against her sister in the final to take the title 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4. It was her fourth STRAIGHT major championship, and fifth overall — putting her one ahead of her sister Venus.
It was kind of a big deal.
I didn’t watch the Australian Open back then, but I definitely remember hearing about this on all the sports talk programs that I was glued to in January thanks to football. According to the AP report from the match, it sounds like it was a blast:
Throughout the 2-hour, 22-minute match, Serena showed how intent she was on winning. Even so, Venus tested her more than in their previous three matches, which Serena won in straight sets.
After losing her serve for 4-5, Serena threw her racket.
In the first-set tiebreaker, she took a ball she thought was out and hit a forehand past Venus, who had stopped playing.
Then she turned on the line judge and shouted, “You just don’t call them out, do you?”
After failing to cash in five break points in the final set’s eighth game, Serena gave her sister a game point with a netted forehand and slammed down her racket.
Serena had 54 errors to Venus’ 51, but beat her 37-28 on winners.
Serving while trailing 4-3 in the final set, Venus really showed mettle, fighting off five break points that would have allowed Serena to serve for the match — the last with a 120 mph service winner.
Serena held serve to go up 5-4, finishing with an ace and a backhand winner. And then she broke Venus’ serve to win, with plenty of help.
The match’s final four points went like this: Venus’ backhand error, Venus’ backhand error, Venus’ double fault, Venus’ forehand error.
“This one has been a really tough one for me,” Serena said, noting that she came close to losing against Emilie Loit in the first round and Kim Clijsters in the semifinals.
“The past two slams I don’t think I dropped a set but this tourney has been a little more difficult. Venus played unbelievable and then Kim and Emilie,” she added.
“I’m really happy I was able to come through.”
So what were our 2013 Australian Open finalists doing as Serena was ruling the world? Well, they weren’t playing on the WTA, that’s for sure.
In 2003, a 20-year-old Li Na was in the middle of A two-year break from tennis. The prior year, ranked 200, she took an extended absence, reportedly because of conflicts with the Chinese federation. During this, she spent time with her future husband and studied part-time at University. (Fun fact: she completed her degree in journalism in 2009 — no wonder she’s so media savvy!)
Azarenka, meanwhile, was only 13 years old. She was still in Belarus at the time. Later that year she played singles and doubles on the Juniors circuit. In 2003 she had Juniors wins over Kristen Flipkens and Ana Ivanovic!
Where was I when the Serena Slam happened? Thanks for asking. As I mentioned above I was not a hardcore tennis fan at the time (at least not enough to pull overnights for Australia), but I do remember the news coverage of it being insane. I also remember the Tiger Slam vs. Serena Slam comparisons. At the time I was a junior in high school in Greensboro, North Carolina. I was starring in plays, breaking my curfew, and never cleaning my room. (You can guess which one of those is still true today.)
What about you guys? What do you remember about the Serena Slam? Where were you when it happened? Please share in the comments.