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Serena could be the best ever, but ...

by Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock brings his edgy and thought-provoking style to FOXSports.com. Columnist for the Kansas City Star, he has won the National Journalism Award for Commentary for "his ability to seamlessly integrate sports and social commentary and to challenge widely held assumptions along the racial divide."

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Updated: July 9, 2009, 12:17 PM EDT
Comment
In addition to talking about Roger Federer and his record-breaking 15th Grand Slam title, we should also be celebrating Serena Williams and her assault on Margaret Court's record.

The problem is, even after knocking off her sister in Saturday's Wimbledon singles final, Serena isn't anywhere close to Court's 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

Serena, stop whining and think about your future. (Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)

At age 27 — the same age as Federer — Serena owns just half as many major titles (11) as Steffi Graf, the greatest women's player of all time. That's a terrible shame.

With a reduction in glut, a little less butt and a smidgen more guts, Serena Williams would easily be as big as Michael Jackson, dwarf Tiger Woods and take a run at Rosa Parks.

You can call me unfair. You can even scream that I'm sexist.

But there's an inescapable truth about Serena Williams: She's an underachiever.

And all the people making excuses for Serena and rationalizing her failure to totally dominate women's tennis are the very people uninterested in seeing women rise to a level of equality with men.

Serena Williams has all the ingredients to be Michael Jordan, Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali rolled into one made-for-TV package. She is quite possibly the most gifted female athlete in our lifetime.

Unfortunately for us, she lacks the courage to fulfill her destiny.

She'd rather eat, half-ass her way through non-major tournaments and complain she's not getting the respect her 11-major-championships résumé demands.

She complains about being ranked No. 2 in the world when she's not bitching on Twitter or her blog about new rules that forbid Wimbledon players from eating in the locker room.

Seriously, how else can Serena fill out her size 16 shorts without grazing at her stall between matches?

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I know, you think I'm a hypocrite. No, I'm not. Sports writers are supposed to be plump and lazy. I'm fulfilling my destiny.

And you probably think I don't like Serena. You're wrong. I love her. She's the main reason I watch tennis. She's fascinating. Her power and skill are breathtaking. And when she's in shape, she's every bit as sexy as Beyonce.

I know, sex appeal isn't supposed to matter in sports. That's such a load of (spit). Television sells sex appeal in men's sports, too. You think being tall, dark and handsome didn't significantly enhance Jordan's appeal? You think Joe Namath, Joe Montana and Tom Brady haven't been sold as sex symbols?

Appearance matters in televised sports. The whining last week about Wimbledon's admission that attractiveness plays a role in determining who plays on Centre Court struck me as disingenuous, politically correct bull crap.

During this year's Wimbledon, Serena and Safina played Court 2 while hot, lesser stars battled on Centre Court. Safina can blame genetics for her fate. Serena only has herself to blame. God gave Serena everything, including drop-dead looks.

She's chosen to smother some of it in an unsightly layer of thick, muscled blubber, a byproduct of her unwillingness to commit to a training regimen and diet that would have her at the top of her game year-round.

Serena simply isn't obsessed with tennis perfection. She seems to play the game solely because she's good at it. Not because she has a burning desire to be the best there ever was. That is her right.

And it's my right to rip her for choosing to be a celebrity tennis player rather than a single-minded tennis assassin.

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If she chose the latter, it would be front-page news every time she lost a tournament. She'd complete the Serena Slam — winning all four majors — every other year. She'd be the most popular and powerful female athlete of all time.

Tiger Woods couldn't touch her. Roger Federer would be reduced to shagging her balls. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant would be the little kids in the Nike commercial bragging that they lived downstairs from Serena and Venus Williams.

Think about it. At 5-foot-9, 145 pounds, Serena would be unstoppable on the court, on the cover of every magazine still in circulation and downloaded on the Internet three times more often than Anna Kournikova.

Instead, Serena is arguably pushing 175 pounds, content playing hard only in the major tournaments, happy to be photographed on dates with pro athletes and proud to serve as a role model for women with oversized back packs.

BBWs — Big Booty Women — do not write me angry e-mails. I'm only knocking Serena's back pack because it's preventing her from reaching her full potential as an athletic icon. I am not fundamentally opposed to junk in the trunk, although my preference is a stuffed onion over an oozing pumpkin.

(A stuffed onion is a booty so round and tight that it brings tears to your eyes).

I'm sorry. I digress.

Serena has limitless potential. Tennis is the platform that could open doors for her and other women. Her parents raised her to speak her mind. She's bright.

She could break the glass ceiling for female athletes and become the transcendent superstar who connects globally. She could join Oprah and Madonna. Serena could be an impossible-to-ignore advocate for any position she supported.

Right now I'd put on Serena on par with Paris Hilton. I know that's harsh. Serena's accomplishments are far more substantive than Hilton's. But Paris Hilton doesn't have one discernible skill (that I can publish in this column without earning it an R rating). Hilton's monumental overachievement is her accomplishment of becoming a celebrity.

Serena's greatest feat might be avoiding establishing herself as the greatest tennis player of all time.

You can e-mail Jason Whitlock at ballstate0@aol.com.

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