Features & Opinions Editor
Every year, people question whether the women’s Rogers Cup will be able to impress crowds and attract fans. It’s always a question of whether the women can rise to the occasion and avoid being overshadowed by the men. When the men’s roster is composed of all-stars like the charming Roger Federer, the Spaniard “Rafa” and jokester Djokovic, the women’s matches — which include the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Kim Clijisters, and Victoria Azarenka — just don’t get the same publicity. This year the women’s Rogers Cup was on its way to being one of the most disappointing of the decade as countless top seeds and stars were being eliminated in the first few days.
First it was the World No. 1, Caroline Wozniacki who was eliminated in just the second round by Italian player, Roberta Vinci, after she lost in two straight sets 6-4, 6-2. She was followed by Russian star, Maria Sharapova who was knocked out before getting into the quarter-finals by No. 39 Galina Voskoboeva. And just like that, people lost interest, and the stadiums were began to empty out.
But as finals drew nearer and more big names were being dropped, Serena Williams remained to fill in the void that other top seeds had left from an early departure.
Williams, whose matches brought in a whole different atmosphere and drew in the biggest crowds, was the greatest delight to watch as she humoured the crowd with her words and contagious smile. As her name gained momentum in the race for the golden prize, something was brought back to the tournament: a sense of excitement and hype.
The five-foot-nine American was able to conquer and fight her way past Lucie Safarova with powerful swings and hard hits in the quarter-finals and was able to weave her way through her next opponent, the fourth-seeded player Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals to earn a spot in the finals.
As the finals match was met with much anticipation and suspense, people wondered whether Williams would continue to do what she had pulled off the whole week: win. Australian rival Samantha Stosur battled it out with a lot of power and speed, but once again Williams swept the match after just two easy sets, with her signature ace to finish it match 6-4, 6-2.
When she won the whole tournament and held the trophy high, it was just icing on the cake for fans.
Caroline Ponthemont, a fan of Serena Williams from the very beginning, was ecstatic to see one of her idols playing in the Rogers Cup and making a big comeback after taking a year off to deal with a foot injury.
“I think people are happy to see her back because she had serious injuries,” she says. “They were happy to see her not only playing, but also winning.”
The crowd that shouted out for Williams and those who encouraged her throughout knew that this win not only represented a title, but that Williams had returned to the game of tennis and is on her way to getting back to the top.
And if there’s anything that made this Rogers Cup memorable it was the fact that Torontonians bore witness to the phenomenal comeback of was Serena Williams.
As for Williams, the win brought on more confidence and more assurance that she was once again back in the running for greatest female player out there.