Serena Williams on the cover of Sports Illustrated!
When Serena Williams first graced the cover of Sport Illustrated, Bill Clinton was still president.
The year was 1999 and Williams had won her first US Open.
There would be several other SI covers to come including the latest issue out this week. There would also be 20 more grand slam titles – and counting.
At 34, Williams is as good if not better than she ever was. At the US Open which kicks off Monday, she has the chance to be the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four of her sport’s grand slam titles in a single year. She could also tie Graf’s modern era record of 22 grand slam titles and break a tie with Chris Evert for most US Opens if she is able to win the tournament for the seventh time.
“It does feel like everything is lining up perfectly,” says Lindsay Davenport, the ’98 U.S. Open champ, now a commentator for the Tennis Channel and part-time coach of rising U.S. star Madison Keys. “But what’s really lining up is that Serena has been playing at another level this year.”
The SI piece points out that Williams, 34, is so dominant that the points gap separating her from No. 2 Simona Halep is greater than the points gap between Halep and the lowest-ranked player on the tour.