Serena Williams did not invent a tennis shot, although she certainly came close to perfecting one with her serve.
She was not, in the absolute sense, a pioneer for elite Black tennis players. Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe were the first Black players to face down the barriers to entry and succeed at the highest level, followed by champions like Zina Garrison and Yannick Noah.
But there is no doubt, with Williams about to play in her farewell U.S. Open just ahead of turning 41, that she changed the game she long dominated; the game she has learned, over time, to treasure.
Her legacy, which is in many respects shared with her older sister and soulmate Venus Williams, is evident in the powerful, aggressive style that has become the norm, if not quite the rule, on tour. See the full-cut, all-action, rip-the-return approach of No. 1 Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina, the new Wimbledon champion.
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