Serena Williams, the pioneer of ‘tennis intimidation’, turns 40

SERENA Williams turns 40 on Sunday with her long-time coach hailing her as the “greatest of all time” and a pioneer of tennis “intimidation”.

The American superstar is frustratingly marooned on 23 Grand Slam titles, one short of the all-time record held by Margaret Court.

However, her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou told AFP that her legacy is secure.

“Margaret Court was playing at a time when three-quarters didn’t even go to Australia (for the Australian Open), where tennis was an amateur sport, when the draws were 16 players,” said Mouratoglou.

Court, an Australian, won 11 of her Grand Slam titles at her home event.

“I don’t mean to disrespect Margaret Court, but it’s another era. Yes, it would be better if Serena broke her record but, if she doesn’t, she will still be the greatest player of all time.”

Williams, whose sister Venus, a seven-time major winner, is still playing on tour at 41, won the last of her 23 Slams at the 2017 Australian Open.

It was achieved while she was pregnant with daughter Olympia who was born in September that year.

With former world number one Serena now down at 40 in the rankings, questions have been asked over her future in the sport.

‘How much does she want it?’

“She still has it. The question is how much she wants it and what is she willing to do to get there?,” added her coach.

“Since she had her daughter, it’s harder. She has a lot of trouble not putting her life as a mother before her life as a player which is completely understandable.

“I think that’s the main reason she didn’t win a Grand Slam. Her family comes first and in order to be able to do great things in one area, that area can’t come second.

“She is reflecting and we will see what comes out of it.”

Williams has been beaten in her four Grand Slam final appearances since her 2017 Melbourne triumph.

She has not made the championship match at a major since Wimbledon in 2019.

She missed this year’s US Open in New York, where she won her first Slam in 1999, with a hamstring injury.

The last of her 73 career titles came in Auckland in January 2020.

If Williams fails to match Court’s record, Mouratoglou says she should be appreciated for the weapons she has brought to the sport — both on and off the court over her 26-year career.

“She changed tennis,” he insisted.

“She brought an athletic dimension that there was not there at all, she opened the doors, with her sister Venus, to a whole generation of players because it was a white sport.

“She invented tennis intimidation because she has a presence that makes others fear her. For a very long time, it was impressive.

“She also brought the business to women’s tennis. Before her, the business was very small and with her it became huge because she has such an aura, she has become such a marketing object, too, that huge contracts are possible for the players.”

Mouratoglou teamed up with Williams in 2012 and has seen her development as a player, physically and mentally.

He believes her only equal on the men’s side when it comes to sheer will to win is Novak Djokovic, who has three fewer Slams.

“At the very beginning, she was very lacking in confidence. She was not herself. But I knew who she was,” Mouratoglou explained.

“When she qualified for the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2012, when she was seventh in the world, I’m at the restaurant, she runs towards me with a smile, telling me ‘it’s great, whatever happens now I’m third in the world on Monday.’

‘It sucks’

“I told her ‘so what? I’m surprised you find that great, explain it to me.’ She felt really bad and didn’t answer me.

“But in the evening, she texted me: ‘Sorry for what I said earlier. Number three, it sucks, number two also.’ At that point, I reconnected her with herself.”

It was that same summer that Mouratoglou believes Williams played the best tennis of her life.

“The Olympics in London were exceptional. She won Wimbledon and the confidence that this victory gave her made her walk on water.

“She pulverized everyone at the Games. In the final, it’s 6-0, 6-1 against Sharapova! This is where she played the best tennis of her life, she was untouchable.

“At the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, she won four consecutive Grand Slams, playing really well.

“In 2013, she told me that she hadn’t won Roland Garros for 11 years and would like to make it her goal. She didn’t lose a match on clay that year… She won Charleston, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, Bastad. Even Rafael Nadal never did that.”

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Serena Williams, the pioneer of ‘tennis intimidation’, turns 40

SERENA Williams turns 40 on Sunday with her long-time coach hailing her as the “greatest of all time” and a pioneer of tennis “intimidation”.

The American superstar is frustratingly marooned on 23 Grand Slam titles, one short of the all-time record held by Margaret Court.

However, her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou told AFP that her legacy is secure.

“Margaret Court was playing at a time when three-quarters didn’t even go to Australia (for the Australian Open), where tennis was an amateur sport, when the draws were 16 players,” said Mouratoglou.

Court, an Australian, won 11 of her Grand Slam titles at her home event.

“I don’t mean to disrespect Margaret Court, but it’s another era. Yes, it would be better if Serena broke her record but, if she doesn’t, she will still be the greatest player of all time.”

Williams, whose sister Venus, a seven-time major winner, is still playing on tour at 41, won the last of her 23 Slams at the 2017 Australian Open.

It was achieved while she was pregnant with daughter Olympia who was born in September that year.

With former world number one Serena now down at 40 in the rankings, questions have been asked over her future in the sport.

‘How much does she want it?’

“She still has it. The question is how much she wants it and what is she willing to do to get there?,” added her coach.

“Since she had her daughter, it’s harder. She has a lot of trouble not putting her life as a mother before her life as a player which is completely understandable.

“I think that’s the main reason she didn’t win a Grand Slam. Her family comes first and in order to be able to do great things in one area, that area can’t come second.

“She is reflecting and we will see what comes out of it.”

Williams has been beaten in her four Grand Slam final appearances since her 2017 Melbourne triumph.

She has not made the championship match at a major since Wimbledon in 2019.

She missed this year’s US Open in New York, where she won her first Slam in 1999, with a hamstring injury.

The last of her 73 career titles came in Auckland in January 2020.

If Williams fails to match Court’s record, Mouratoglou says she should be appreciated for the weapons she has brought to the sport — both on and off the court over her 26-year career.

“She changed tennis,” he insisted.

“She brought an athletic dimension that there was not there at all, she opened the doors, with her sister Venus, to a whole generation of players because it was a white sport.

“She invented tennis intimidation because she has a presence that makes others fear her. For a very long time, it was impressive.

“She also brought the business to women’s tennis. Before her, the business was very small and with her it became huge because she has such an aura, she has become such a marketing object, too, that huge contracts are possible for the players.”

Mouratoglou teamed up with Williams in 2012 and has seen her development as a player, physically and mentally.

He believes her only equal on the men’s side when it comes to sheer will to win is Novak Djokovic, who has three fewer Slams.

“At the very beginning, she was very lacking in confidence. She was not herself. But I knew who she was,” Mouratoglou explained.

“When she qualified for the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2012, when she was seventh in the world, I’m at the restaurant, she runs towards me with a smile, telling me ‘it’s great, whatever happens now I’m third in the world on Monday.’

‘It sucks’

“I told her ‘so what? I’m surprised you find that great, explain it to me.’ She felt really bad and didn’t answer me.

“But in the evening, she texted me: ‘Sorry for what I said earlier. Number three, it sucks, number two also.’ At that point, I reconnected her with herself.”

It was that same summer that Mouratoglou believes Williams played the best tennis of her life.

“The Olympics in London were exceptional. She won Wimbledon and the confidence that this victory gave her made her walk on water.

“She pulverized everyone at the Games. In the final, it’s 6-0, 6-1 against Sharapova! This is where she played the best tennis of her life, she was untouchable.

“At the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, she won four consecutive Grand Slams, playing really well.

“In 2013, she told me that she hadn’t won Roland Garros for 11 years and would like to make it her goal. She didn’t lose a match on clay that year… She won Charleston, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, Bastad. Even Rafael Nadal never did that.”

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New Brunswick dioceses will not require COVID vaccination to attend Mass


The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception seen amid Saint John, New Brunswick. / Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock.

Fredericton, Canada, Sep 24, 2021 / 19:12 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Moncton announced Friday the four bishops in New Brunswick province have adopted a common policy for attendance at Mass amid rising COVID-19 cases, and that proof of vaccination will not be required.

The Moncton archdiocese had a week ago announced it would require proof of full vaccination, while the Diocese of Saint John, one of its suffragrans, did not do so. The Diocese of Edmundston had also briefly required double vaccination.

The new policy is in line with a state of emergency and mandatory order over COVID-19 announced Sept. 24 by the provincial government.

“Last night, we received new directives from the Minister of Health concerning the sanitary measures to be implemented in our churches. Accordingly, the four bishops of NB agree on the following steps to make our churches as safe as possible for our faithful,” Archbishop Valery Vienneau of Moncton wrote in a Sept. 24 announcement.

“No proof of vaccination is required for Sunday or weekday masses, baptisms, prayer groups,” the archbishop wrote. 

However, capacity is limited to 50 percent, attendants must wear masks, and there is to be two meters of physical distance between households.

“The names and contact information of all attendees shall be recorded, and the lists maintained,” Archbishop Vienneau added.

Proof of vaccination will be required for weddings and funerals. 

Essentially identical guidelines were posted Sept. 24 by the Diocese of Bathurst

In his communique, Bishop Daniel Jodoin of Bathurst stated: “It should be noted that the situation in our province is evolving and that these regulations may change depending on the circumstances.”

“We understand the concerns of Public Health and continue to collaborate by following the guidelines issued to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. We are all concerned about the current situation in the province,” the bishop said.

New Brunswick announced a state of emergency and mandatory order over COVID-19 Sept. 24, citing three recent deaths and 78 new cases of the disease. New Brunswick’s population numbers over 750,000.

Under the mandatory order, “faith venues” must either “ensure all participants show proof of full vaccination and continuously wear masks”, or operate at 50 percent capacity.

Proof of vaccination is required at such venues as restaurants and movie theatres, but an accommodation was made for religious venues. Some members of the United Church of Canada, an ecclesial community, have requested that churches not be given an accommodation.

The CBC reported that the mandatory order will be lifted when there are 10 or fewer hospitalizations in the province, and that the province’s premier said there are now 31 persons in hospital. 

Natasha Mazerolle, communications director for the Diocese of Saint John, told CNA Sept. 22 that “No person will be turned away from Mass, nor any other Sacrament.”

“The Diocese of Saint John continues to do its utmost to protect both the physical and spiritual needs of its faithful,” said Mazerolle. “It takes the directives of public health seriously and understands the need to make sacrifices to protect the common good, and to be prudent in slowing the spread of the virus. It also recognizes that the faithful are not to be excluded from the Sacraments for any reason, and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith (and indeed what is most needed to help us face these challenging times).”

Mazerolle said “worship services (including Catholic Mass) are not directly mentioned in the government regulation.” She added “an individual’s right to practice their religion is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

“The regulations published on the Government of New Brunswick’s website do not mention worship services or Mass,” Mazerolle said. “While there can be many interpretations, the diocese defers to what has been officially written in the regulation under the Public Health Act and posted on the Government of New Brunswick’s website.”

The provinces of Alberta and Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, are also mandating proof of vaccination to enter some venues. Nova Scotia will begin to mandate proof of vaccination Oct. 4, but that mandate does not apply to places of worship, the Canada-based site Global News reports.

In a December 2020 note, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation” and therefore “must be voluntary.” It said that the morality of vaccination depends on both the duty to pursue the common good and the duty to protect one’s own health, and that “in the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination.”

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