Photograph by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Serene Vision By this point, well into the second decade of one of the most remarkable narratives in sports, we know about Serena Williams's insurmountable power, the tracer fire she sends over the net, the serves fit for ballistics tests. We know how she can turn a tennis match into a physical altercation. We know about that magic trick she plays whereby she is at once determined and detached, hot and cool. We know about the relentless—almost devotional—winning. But she still doesn't get sufficient credit for her staying power. In 2002, Serena won the French Open for the first time. She was 20 then. There was no Facebook, no iPhone. Eleven years later she is still ruling the game. Playing as well as she ever has, she won the French Open again last week, her 16th Grand Slam singles title, with a sublime display of clay court tennis. A part-time Parisian who gave courtside interviews in French, Serena appeared thoroughly comfortable at Roland Garros. She played peerless offense and defense, brushing aside seven opponents like the grounds crew sweeping the courts. After playing perhaps the most dominating match of her career, a 6--0, 6--1 devastation of No. 5 Sara Errani in which two thirds of the points ended in a Williams winner, she subdued Maria Sharapova in the final, 6--4, 6--4. At 31, Williams walks still further into the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) meadow. "I can just relax," she said after the win last Saturday, "and do what I want to do here." Yes she can. Why should this event be different from any other? —L. Jon Wertheim
Photograph by Petr David Josek/AP
King of the Clay One great irony of the French Open is that the venue is named not for a tennis player but for an aviator. The grounds at Roland Garros are plastered with images of the dashing World War I pilot and suffused with themes of flight. And yet the tournament is the essence of terrestrial—all ground, no air. The surface is earth itself, a mixture of soil and crushed brick. And there is nothing ethereal about clay court tennis. It is trench warfare, all toil and trouble, grinding and burrowing. Literally, dirty work. It is an art form, though, and no one—male, female, living or dead—has mastered it as Rafael Nadal has. The Spaniard has now entered the French Open nine times and won eight singles titles, more than any other male player has claimed at a single major. Back in action after a seven-month layoff due to an inflamed left knee, Nadal struggled through the first week, playing phlegmatically against lesser lights. Then he gave himself the equivalent of a blistering halftime speech—"You're going to have to play better or you'll be fishing next week"—and returned to his familiar self. In the semis he engaged his main rival, Novak Djokovic, in a brutal, protracted and tempestuous ground campaign, prevailing 6--4, 3--6, 6--1, 6--7, 9--7 in the match of the tournament. Then Nadal faced his countryman and kindred spirit David Ferrer in Sunday's final and, as expected, ground him down in straight sets, 6--3, 6--2, 6--3. The venue may be named for an aviator, but if it's ever rechristened in honor of an actual, earthbound tennis player, there is no doubt who it should be. —L.J.W.
FIFTY THREE PHOTOS
Photographs by Fred Vuich for Sports Illustrated (Bruins); Todd Rosenberg for Sports Illustrated (Blackhawks)
Faces of the Stanley Cup Finals BOSTON BRUINS CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS BRUINS 01 Torey Krug, D 02 Chris Kelly, C 03 Kaspars Daugavins, LW 04 Anton Khudobin, G 05 Dennis Seidenberg, D 06 Carl Soderberg, C 07 Milan Lucic, LW 08 Patrice Bergeron, C 09 Adam McQuaid, D 10 David Krejci, C 11 Brad Marchand, LW 12 Daniel Paille, LW 13 Nathan Horton, RW 14 Gregory Campbell, C 15 Matt Bartkowski, D 16 Jaromir Jagr, RW 17 Tuukka Rask, G 18 Jay Pandolfo, LW 19 Andrew Ference, D 20 Shawn Thornton, LW 21 Tyler Seguin, C 22 Rich Peverley, C 23 Dougie Hamilton, D 24 Johnny Boychuk, D 25 Aaron Johnson, D 26 Wade Redden, D 27 Zdeno Chara, D BLACKHAWKS 28 Michal Handzus, C 29 Niklas Hjalmarsson, D 30 Corey Crawford, G 31 Viktor Stalberg, RW 32 Duncan Keith, D 33 Dave Bolland, C 34 Johnny Oduya, D 35 Brandon Saad, LW 36 Jonathan Toews, C 37 Marcus Kruger, C 38 Michael Frolik, RW 39 Sheldon Brookbank, D 40 Patrick Kane, RW 41 Daniel Carcillo, LW 42 Ray Emery, G 43 Ben Smith, RW 44 Nick Leddy, D 45 Brandon Bollig, LW 46 Andrew Shaw, RW 47 Jamal Mayers, RW 48 Brent Seabrook, D 49 Marian Hossa, RW 50 Patrick Sharp, LW 51 Ryan Stanton, D 52 Michal Rozsival, D 53 Bryan Bickell, LW