Serena, Margaret Court, Ben Rothenberg discussed on No Challenges Remaining


Welcome to the challenges from rating. I'm Ben Rothenberg, joined by Timothy carrillo and CR's Spain and sub Saharan African correspondent to Mani hello again. Happy to have you back, as always, and we are here on the occasion that is both a little bit, I don't think surprising is the appropriate word, but timing, I didn't expect to wake up to this news this morning and did that three to Williams has formally announced her retirement. It's a little bit fuzzier than that. She didn't draw a direct finish line, but you can pretty much read into what she's saying and it seems very clear that the U.S. open is planned to be her last tournament, anything beyond that would be a big surprise based on her current framing in a cover story for the September issue of Vogue magazine and very much keeping with current Serena. Media strategies and prevalence and prominence of things like that. Yeah, it's funny. I just start with your initial reaction to this news. Obviously, you and I have both followed Serena for decades. What is your reaction and your feelings about this news and the sort of finality what has been up until now, you know, never ending career. Yeah. The actual news, I think you agree. It's not surprising. It's not shocking. It's if we were talking about Serena a few months ago, I wasn't sure that she was going to come back to the sport at all. So yeah, I'm not surprised that I'd actually had for a few months now. I've had Serena on push notifications on Instagram. And anticipation of this at some point, there's going to be a big announcement like this, and so it was just funny when I checked my phone. So I was working out in the Commonwealth Games the last couple of weeks in Birmingham and I was on the bus back home. I checked my phone and you could just see like the vote, you know, like the kind of thumbnail. And I was like, here we are. Even before I clicked on that, you know, so it wasn't surprising. As you said, it's interesting because the actual article was detailed in places. I didn't expect I didn't expect to have, for example, to go into such detail about Margaret court. And it was very detailed in some ways, but then, as you said, vague on, she didn't actually explicitly say it. The U.S. open is the end. This is my final tournament. Done. This is what we assume and it seems actually the tweet that introduced article questions was actually more, you know, she said, I'm going to enjoy these last few weeks. But it seems to be the end. Yeah, yeah, you're right now. I was doing a bunch of media appearances on various TV and radio about this news today as normally happens when there's some big tennis news story. And yeah, there wasn't the one clear pull quote for people to sort of nail and say, well, Serena Williams said this. A lot of them were actually playing the clip of her and press in Toronto yesterday, where she got her first win in 14 months. Where she sort of talked about seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and that light represented freedom. And that was kind of the quote, actually, which wasn't even part of this Vogue story that wound up getting the most circulation. It was an audio thing. So maybe more sense for those media. But yeah, it's interesting to see what she went into and how she frames it and what she says and what she doesn't say. In here, and there's some interesting things on both fronts. I thought, yeah, the Margaret court thing, actually, we can get to that now, I guess, as you mentioned, it might as well. It's one of the things on my agenda here to talk about. Actually, before you do this on the surprise front, I want to share a quote from that I think really sums up kind of the tennis world's reaction from the always understated and succinct kaia kanepi, who was asked about this today after winning via retirement against Nami Osaka today in Toronto. She was asked, is she a player who's inspired you in the past? And just what was your reaction when you saw the news? And kaia said, I took it very calmly because players they retire in certain age. I think it's normal. I quote machine can epi. In classic form. Yeah, anyway, so here's what she says about market court. She says, there are people who say I'm not the goat because I didn't pass market court's record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but she achieved before the quote open era that began in 1968. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I'm not I'm really not thinking about her. If I'm in a grandstand final, then yes, I am thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn't help. The way I see it, I should have 30 plus grand slams. I had my chances of coming back from giving birth. I went from a C section to a second pulmonary embolism to a Grand Slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression, but I didn't get there. Should I what a cuda? I didn't show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that's fine. Actually, it's extraordinary, but these days, I have to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family. I choose the latter. You won't get more to the family stuff later. That's a big part of this. Essay, but yeah, I'm sure you get asked about this, I get asked about it. The market court record, I think in so many ways, was illusory, and it was a shifting goalpost in a lot of ways. You talk about in your piece that she repeats for The Guardian today that she pointed to Steffi Graf, who was the holder of the pro era record of 22 grand slams first. And Margaret court only sort of came up after. And Serena did embrace and more toggle also her coach for most of this time did embrace the chase for 24. It was a very easy narrative and it was easy to build stories around and have to be the quote greatest of all time because that number did exist out there. But I think anybody who I'm glad Serena said a little bit, she could have said more.

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