Serena Williams may have been pressed to three sets by Victoria Azarenka, but by sunset Sunday she was, once again, the U.S. Open champion.

This victory was her 17th in a Grand Slam event, tying Roger Federer and, if you prefer your comparisons to remain within her gender, she is now seven behind Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record of 24, five behind Steffi Graf and one behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. This win came on a windy afternoon that tested the patience of a 32-year-old woman clearly aware of her place in the game.

Serena Williams has won five U.S. Open singles titles. (Stan Honda / AFP Getty Images) Serena Williams has won five U.S. Open singles titles. (Stan Honda / AFP Getty Images)

“When you’re always trying to write history, or join history in my case, maybe you just get a little more nervous than you should,” Williams said. “I got a little uptight.”

Williams is 67-4 this year, with wins in nine tournaments and one other Grand Slam, but playing for history puts a person on a different level. “The greatest tennis player we’ve ever seen,” Evert said on ESPN after Williams won her quarterfinal with a double bagel. “She doesn’t have the best record, but nobody’s had a game like her.”

Azarenka thinks Williams is “the greatest ever.” But Williams demurs.

“I go by numbers,” she said. “I don’t think I’m the greatest because Steffi has way more Grand Slams than me.”

Let the endless debate begin.

 

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