NEW YORK -- She's back. With a vengeance. And a shriek. Serena Williams back in the final of the U.S. Open. Back chasing the No. 1 ranking in women's tennis.
Back where she should have been during all these years of indifference. Of injuries. Of disappointment.
|Serena won her first Slam at the 1999 U.S. Open. (Getty Images)|
Then the ladies got bored. Then the ladies got hurt. Then players such as Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova passed them by, and all you could think of was, what a waste of talent.
All you could think of, as Mary Carillo, the commentator and the former player, said on CBS during the semifinals Friday, was what should have been, what could have been.
Serena should have been taking advantage of the opportunity, was Carillo's lament, concentrating on tennis and not worrying about acting or whatever alternatives were out there.
But she's back. So is Venus. The two of them met in the final at Wimbledon at the beginning of July. That one went to Venus. Now it's September, and the U.S. Open, and this one most certainly will belong to Serena. As it did way back when.
In one of the semis on a windy afternoon, Serena, by a score of 6-3, 6-2, throttled Dinara Safina, who the last couple of months has been playing as well as almost anyone on the women's tour. That match came shortly after Jelena Jankovic overcame a few service breaks to defeat the Olympic singles champ, Elena Dementieva, 6-4, 6-4.
It will be Jankovic, 23, No. 2 in the world, No. 2 in the seeds, in a Grand Slam final for the first time, and Serena, No. 8, three weeks from her 27th birthday, returning to her past. And loving it.
The way the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, so much wanting an American in the last round, was loving it.
When Safina was unable to return Serena's final serve, Serena leaped and then shrieked. When she came down, physically and mentally, Williams said, "I'm finally back in the finals. It's awesome. An American in the finals here."
Serena won as a teenager in 1999, then again in 2002. That was the last time. For her. For the U.S in the women's division.
"I've been paying the price," said Serena, often accused of indolence. "I've been putting in a lot more effort. Doubles has helped, too. I've just been way more consistent."