There is a basic difference between a Lion and other predators. While Lions go for hunting only when they are hungry, other predators like tigers do it even when they have lesser appetite. It is more like a hobby for the rest of the predators.
No one needs to be told which animal is thought to be the king of the jungle. When a Lion goes seeking its prey, not many animals would try seizing it from the King. Every other animal has to wait until the king of the jungle satiates its hunger. When the Lion gets its prey, other animals can form a group and start hunting freely till the former gets its hunger back.
Once I look at the WTA players of the present generation or even of the recent past, I cannot stop reminding myself of this jungle-like scenario prevailing over there. Now I will elaborate as to what made me connect women tennis players with the predators of the jungle. When a lion starts to roar, other animals begin to retreat. Likewise, it looks as though when the younger of the Williams Sisters aims for a title, other players back away.
When a lion goes for a sleep quietly after helping itself with prey, it does not mean that other animals can roam freely and do whatever they want, emptying the jungle. It never happens. The sleeping giant wakes up any moment and thereafter owns the forests by itself. Precisely, this is what have been seeing in women’s tennis. Serena, the most powerful of the lot and the most athletic by a distance, when she wants a title under her belt, goes about it demolishing everyone mercilessly.
When she feels she has had enough, it gives the others opportunities to fight with each other and gain whatever possible. So, whenever the Lion in Serena started sleeping, others divide among themselves the titles of WTA and get themselves labeled in top positions in WTA rankings. However, everyone knew for sure the real world No.1 could rise up anytime, putting paper No.1s to rest.
The losses which Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova suffered against Serena Williams in the recently concluded “Tennis Story” in Olympics prove this perfectly. It was a thorough annihilation, if there had been any. How can a lion’s ego take anything it, when it comes to know some other animals have gone and started ruling a kingdom which rightfully belongs to it? So, Serena was more than vicious when she confronted Azarenka and Sharapova in the semifinals and finals at London Olympics respectively.
She proved who is numero uno in tennis. She destroyed Azarenka, who was seeded No.1 in Olympics 6-1 6-2 and silenced the grunting Sharapova in the finals 6-1 6-0. An animal was unleashed and Sharapova and Azarenka fell prey to her. Having said that, it was not only Sharapova and Azarenka , as top players, who were on the receiving end, playing against the ever dominant American but also there were quite a few other players, while on their peak, who had to undergo the ordeal of getting humiliated time and again.
Serena has been destructive as a player for more than a decade now and in the process has handed many players, who were high in the ranking, worst defeats possible many a times. Let us see how dominating she had been against players who were supposed to be very great in their own right.
Martina Hingis & Lindsay Davenport:
The Swiss Miss and Davenport, at one point of time, were quite atrocious in nailing their opponents, the former by sheer display of class and the other by supreme power, especially of forehands. To start with, Hingis was ruling the tennis world, turning pro at a very young age and was successful for quite some time scoring a few victories over Serena Williams. That was a time when the lion was just a cub. The Swiss Miss hardly broke a sweat to destroy her opponents but she was quite an intellectual player, knowing how to play right shots at the right time, which was the reason behind her success that kept her No.1 for more than 200 weeks.
Davenport was not weak either. She always outwitted her opponents by sheer power of her forehand . Her backhand was not weak either. In this way, even she outclassed her friend Martina Hingis and many other players in singles matches.
However, Hingis’ form soon begun to drop after Y2K whereas Davenport was still at her sublime best. While Williams made most of the Hingis’ dipping form by beating her hard and dry, as far as Davenport was concerned, Serena overpowered the powerhouse by the power game, which was never seen or heard till then. During the later stages of their career, they had suffered heavy defeats against Williams who eventually prevailed in her head-to-head contest against both. Hingis, however, can claim proudly that in the only clay court match played between the two, she was victorious. Though the head-to-head between Williams and Hingis shows 7-6, which does not prove the American’s dominance over the Miss, those who watched her destroying the Swiss, would know the fact.
Then came the era of two Belgians. Kim Clijsters was on a spree of titles at one point of time which was the reason she became World No.1 around 2003. She was known for her superior quality of ground strokes, especially her backhands. Her forehand was also equally good. But, so long as she was not facing Serena Williams, she had always been safer in her career when she was at the peak of her game. Serena Williams found it easy to tame Kim, even when she was ruling the tennis world for a brief period of a year or so. The career head-to-head between Serena and Clijsters read 6-2 and I doubt if the Belgian could better it, as she is not going to continue playing next year.
Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki:
This younger sister of tennis great Marat Safin had a better attitude than her male sibling but never had the game to win grandslams. Only because of her consistency, particularly when Serena was a bit lethargic, she was able to win WTA titles on a larger scale which elevated her position to No.1. May be that was the period when the Lion ate a bit more than it normally does and so it took perhaps longer to digest than usual. So, Safina was able to hang on to her position as No.1 player for more time that one would expect her to be in. But, a grandslam victory was always denied to her especially because of the overpowering Williams Sisters who gave her a real thrashing every time, bundling her out six games to love on more than couple of occasions. She tasted such disgusting defeats not only from Serena but also from the latter’s elder sister, Venus Williams.
The Danish girl called Caroline Woziniacki was a bit more talented than Safina, no doubt. She played some incredible matches in her career during the past two years or so and she was rightly placed at number one ranking. During her phase as No.1 player, Serena was a bit subdued and it was then players like Clijsters, Sharapova and Azarenka began to encash whatever talent they possessed. May be the lion was ailing during the last 18 months or so. We even thought both the Williams were finished during the first half of this year. Infact one of the sisters is far from being her best but when it comes to Serena, it was no stopping her. It was like almost she got a rebirth of a sort when she won her Wimbledon this year. Now she is World No.4 and Wozniacki is left with nothing.
Once, Serena came to the forefront, the graceful Wozniacki went into hiding. Serena inflicted a big defeat on her as she did to Victoria and Maria in this year’s Olympics.
The lion is back to its best. When Lion stops hunting, again all Sharapovas, Azarenkas and Wozniackis will come back and try to get the maximum mileage out of its absence. But lion is a lion after all. It can strike any time and with this apprehension the female players will have to live, waiting for the American’s retirement. But, Serena who has been playing for more than fifteen years as a pro, does not even look like hanging her boots. Infact her prime form has just returned which leaves more humiliations for those who are just world No.1 on paper. The roaring of lion is very much audible in the jungle now.