Serena Wins Fourth US Open

Serena Williams collapsed to the tennis court and then jumped for joy after she won her fourth US Open of her career yesterday. The 15th Grand Slam victory of her career wasn’t as easy as it seemed at the beginning, and Williams was actually two points away from losing her second-straight US Open final.

Serena dominated the first set of the matchup, winning 6-2, and breaking the serve of her opponent, 23-year old Victoria Azarenka, ranked #1 in the world, three times. It appeared that the 30-year old Williams would win the final easily, without losing a set to any opponent, something she also accomplished in 2002 on her way to the US Open title. But Azarenka stormed back to take the second set 6-2, to create the first US Open Women’s final to go to a third set in 17 years.

Williams and Azarenka traded breaks in the third and final set, and Azarenka was in control, up 5-3 and a break. At 30-30, Williams took over, holding serve, then breaking Azarenka to tie the set at five, then held serve again before converting a final break that crowned her the champion.

Serena talked about her opponent being two points away from handing her defeat after the match. “At 30-all I figured I could serve out and just make her serve for it…after that, I thought I could just force another game and obviously never give up. I never, never quit. I have come back so many times in so many matches.”

With her win, Williams becomes the first woman ever to win a Grand Slam title in three different decades. “That’s kinda cool” she responded, when asked about the accomplishment. Serena praised the play of her opponent. “You can tell by the score line that she really worked hard and she pushed me.”

Azarenka also had positive things to say about Williams. “She never gives up…she’s definitely the toughest player mentally there is. She continued, with an upbeat attitude. “I have to be positive, you know, because I feel like these kind of matches, every time I play Serena, it really pushes (me) to be better, to improve, to move forward. I have to be thankful to her for that.”

There were numerous entertainers in the star-studded crowd of 23,771, including tennis legends Billie Jean King and Boris Becker, New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Mets pitcher RA Dickey, actors Will Ferrell, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Judd Hirsch, and James Caviezel, actresses Jennifer Connelly, Minka Kelly,and Vivica Fox, musicians Redfoo of LMFAO and Mandy Moore, supermodel Tyra Banks, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Henin Retires From Tennis

ending elbow injury that has forced the Belgian to hang up her racquet.  One of the WTA’s greatest players and a seven-time Grand Slam champion, Henin retired from the sport for the first time in March 2008 and became the first woman in the history of professional tennis to retire while ranked World No.1.  She made a successful comeback to tennis at the beginning of the 2010 season, reaching the final of the 2010 Australian Open and capturing two titles (the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart and the UNICEF Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch).  During a fourth-round loss to Kim Clijsters at 2010 Wimbledon, Henin suffered a right elbow injury and did not play for the remainder of the 2010 season.

On her official website, Henin said the following: “I turn, and this time, an incredible page of my life … What a wonderful trip, I have experienced during all these years.  Today I am calmer and I can create positive and rewarding look back on this experience in my life…Finally and most importantly, thanks everyone.  Thanks for standing by my side during all these years. I will never forget your support and your loyalty.”

“Justine Henin will go down as one of the greatest female athletes of her era.  She has been an incredible ambassador for women’s tennis on and off the court, and her fighting spirit, tremendous courage and ultimate success has captured the minds and hearts of millions of fans around the world,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA.  “We have all been fortunate to once again have had the opportunity to witness the beauty of her game during these many past months, and no doubt we will miss seeing her on court competing like only Justine can.  In her young career Justine has already done so much to inspire and give back to others, and I am sure this will continue to be a big part of the next chapter of her life.”

Henin is a winner of 43 WTA singles titles – including seven Grand Slam championships – and has been ranked World No.1 for a total of 117 weeks (7th all time).  She has amassed more than $20 million in career prize money and is leaving the sport with a win-loss record of 527-116.

But more importantly than any statistic, 5-foot, 5 ¾-inch (1.67 m) Henin was renowned for her spectacular one-handed backhand, incredible athleticism and unrivalled mental fortitude and work ethic.

Among many accomplishments, Henin achieved the following:

  • Finished three seasons as the WTA World No.1 (2003, 2006, 2007)
  • Won seven Grand Slam singles titles (Roland Garros 2003, 2005-07; Australian Open 2004; US Open 2003, 2007)
  • In 2007-08, set personal best 32-match winning streak, longest streak since Venus Williams in 2000 (35); in 2007, posted a 63-4 (0.94) winning record, the best percentage in women’s tennis since 1989 (Graf 86-2, 0.977)
  • In 2006 became the seventh player in the Open Era to reach all four Grand Slam finals in the same calendar year (Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, and Martina Hingis).
  • Won 43 singles titles, including seven Grand Slams, two season-ending WTA Championships (2006, 2007) and an Olympic gold medal in singles in Athens in 2004
  • Helped lead Belgium to its first Fed Cup title in 2001.

After retiring from tennis in 2008, Henin turned her focus to charitable work, becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and traveling to Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in that role throughout 2009.  She created the “Justine For Kids” association, the purpose of which is to help develop and fund projects to aid sick children and their families.  Henin founded the “Sixth Sense Academy” in 2007 with coach Carlos Rodriguez which has five locations – three in Belgium, one in Florida and the most recent one in China.

Serena Continues Legacy in Oz

[CHICAGO] – Each and every time Serena Williams reaches the semi-finals of the Australian Open, she goes on to win the title. This first Grand Slam of 2010 was no exception. Williams dominated this all Wilson final, putting an end to the amazing return of former #1, Justine Henin.

With her [K] Blade Team racket, the 12 time Grand Slam champion held strong throughout the entire tournament despite being injured. The final match was all about Serena’s well known power game as she defeated Henin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Fans knew they were watching a great champion doing what she does best. Serena pushed through her injury and played like a true champion, running down every ball and leaving it all on the court.

“It feels incredible to defend my title here in Melbourne,” Serena said after winning against Henin. “Justine is a great competitor but I knew this was my time to shine and gave it everything I had.”

This was Williams’ fifth Australian Open title and she is the first woman in the Open Era to win five Australian Open titles. She is also the first to win back-to-back Australian Opens since Jennifer Capriati in 2002.

Before winning her singles championship, Serena defended the doubles title with her sister Venus and their [K] Blade Team rackets. The sisters rolled over the world’s top-ranked women’s doubles team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber in two sets 6-4, 6-3. It’s their fourth Australian Open title together; part of their collection of an astonishing eleven Grand Slam women’s doubles championships.

“It is just great to continue this success with Serena,” said Venus after winning her doubles title. “We know each other’s game so well– we’re the perfect match.”

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