Triumphs to tears: Assessing the 2009 WTA starsThe defining moment of Serena's 2009 season came not in Melbourne, where she dominated Dinara Safina for her 10th career Grand Slam singles title, nor at Wimbledon, where she soundly defeated her sister, Venus, for No. 11. Those victories were overshadowed by her notorious tirade against the lineswoman who called her for a foot fault in the U.S. Open semifinals. But regardless of whether you were perturbed by the vitriolic nature of Serena's outburst (I was) or thought she should have been allowed to play the women's doubles final 36 hours later (I didn't), one has to acknowledge that from a competitive standpoint, Serena's season was an unqualified success. She may have bungled her apologies for foot-fault-gate (for which further punishment may yet be assessed), but in going 5-0 to win the year-end championships in Doha last weekend, Williams reminded us how dominating her top tennis is.
As my colleague Steve Tignor wrote earlier this week, her status as the world's greatest player derives not just from her serve -- the best in the women's game -- or her quickness, but also from her court coverage, her competitive mettle, and most of all her ability to hit winners from any position. Ten years after she became the first Williams sister to win a major, and seven years after she first claimed the world's top ranking, Serena will finish the year ranked No. 1. It's appropriate that that distinction goes not to the hapless Safina but to Williams, the best in the game.