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    Just A Friendly Reminder Serena Williams Is Still The Most Important Tennis Player In The History Of The Game

    In case you forgot.

    For asking, "Are you looking at my titles?":

    USTA / Via

    In 2009, Williams was ranked No. 3 in the world, despite having won 11 Grand Slams to top-ranked Dinara Safina's zero. Williams' shirt was an unsubtle dig at the arbitrary foolishness of the WTA's ranking system.

    For answering dumb, sexist questions in press conferences with the honesty they deserve:

    Facebook: Squintz83 / Via

    Perhaps "why aren't you smiling?" can officially retire as a go-to ask of females, in any context.

    For her decision to boycott, and later overcome, Indian Wells:

    Mark J. Terrill / AP

    In 2001, a teenage Serena was booed relentlessly during her Indian Wells victory match over Kim Clijsters. She vowed never to return, but in 2015 she wrote in an article for Time, "Thirteen years and a lifetime in tennis later, things feel different. A few months ago, when Russian official Shamil Tarpischev made racist and sexist remarks about Venus and me, the WTA and USTA immediately condemned him. It reminded me how far the sport has come, and how far I've come too."

    For the undeniable gulf between her ability and the rest of her competition:

    Pavel Golovkin / AP

    The No. 1 world player is arguably without a true competitor. Maria Sharapova, who once ousted Williams in 2004, lost the following 17 times they met on the court.

    For handling a complicated, decades-long rivalry with aplomb:

    Julio Cortez / AP

    Serena's strongest competition on the court also happens to share her blood. After their 27th meet on the courts in this year's U.S Open quarterfinals, Serena said to ESPN, "She's the toughest player I ever played in my life, and the best person I know. So it's going against your best friend and going against, for me, the greatest competitor in women's tennis."

    For helping audiences understand good women's tennis is also just good tennis. Period.

    John Minchillo / AP

    For the supposed first time in history, the women's U.S. Open final sold out before the men's. And the promise of a Serena final had everything to do with that.

    For not backing down on her stance for pay equality:

    Charles Krupa / AP

    In 2012, French player Gilles Simon called for an end to equal prize money in the sport. Following her second-round Wimbledon win, Serena said, "You know, I started playing tennis at 2 years old. I'm sure he started when he was 2 years old, as well. I worked just as hard as he did. I'm sure he continues to work hard as I work hard, as well as everyone that's on a professional level."

    For longevity:

    Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

    Serena first ranked No. 1 in the world in 2002, (usurping older sister Venus). Thirteen years later, she's held the top spot for the last 250 weeks.

    For the promise of what's next:

    Charles Krupa / AP

    Serena Williams went on to casually win 14 more Grand Slams after Pat Cash notoriously dubbed her a "lost cause" in 2007. Serena's irrevocable mark in tennis history has been made, with or without a single-season sweep.

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