Last year, after she lost to Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, then-defending champion Serena Williams told the press she just "went crazy" during the match. When she arrived in Melbourne this year, she said in a press conference: "One year I went crazy. A couple of years ago I went completely crazy."
She went crazy again in her 2009 Australian Open quarterfinal, too--but in a good way. Still not serving well, and still not acting like Serena Williams the champion, she lost the first set, 5-7, to an in-form Svetlana Kuznetsova. Then there was a half-hour break while the roof was finally put in place. In the second set, Williams was down 3-5, and broke Kuznetsova when she served for the match. Williams then held, then broke Kuznetsova again, and went on to take the set, 7-5. In the third set, Williams found her serve again and dominated, winning it 6-1.
Of course, there is talk about whether Kuznetsova would have won if there had not been a long roof break. Who knows? Tennis is filled with "what if?"s such as this. One notable thing about this match was that Kuznetsova did not go into choke mode; she was simply outplayed by a force called Serena.
Of the three women who are expert at coming back from behind at the last moment--Williams, Dinara Safina and Jelena Dokic--two are still standing.
Unfortunately, Williams punctuated her win by telling an interviewer: "I told myself I need to man up or go home." Williams, of all people, should know that maleness does not equal courage. "Man up," the latest version of "has balls," perpetuates the myth that one--even a female one--must embrace maleness in order to be strong and brave.