Could Serena Williams Beat Shreveport Tennis Star Ryan Harrison?
Shreveporter Ryan Harrison is one of the best tennis players in the world. The latest rankings have him listed as #41. Harrison's overall record is 84-117. The 25-year-old turned pro in 2007. Harrison has had a great 2017 bringing in more than $700 thousand in earnings this year.
He won the doubles title at the French Open this year with his partner Michael Venus. Harrison has been playing tennis since he was 2. He now lives in Boca Raton, Florida.
About a week ago, John McEnroe said women's tennis star Serena Williams would not even be ranked in the top 700 male players. This has caused quite a dust up. Williams, who is pregnant, wants nothing to do with this debate. She tweeted this:
I strongly believe Williams, at her best, could compete with some of the men on the tour. In fact, I think she could give Harrison a pretty tough match. But most sports gurus think I am nuts. So I started to do a little research. Serena Williams has the toughest serve on the women's tour. Her top speed on her serve is 128mph. One of the men's top players, Rafael Nadal regularly serves in excess of 125 mph, but he has hit the 135mph mark several times. Serena Williams average serve speed is 104mph and that would be pretty easy for Harrison to deal with in light of the fact that he faces average speeds by men of 115 or better. Williams would have to turn it up a notch in her service games.
By contrast, Harrison's serve comes in at #8 in history for the fastest serving speeds. His fastest is recorded at 152mph. That's powerful and would give Williams trouble. But he would not be able to sustain that speed for an entire match.
But my theory that Serena Williams could hang with Harrison falls apart when I read about what happened in 1998. It was at the Australian Open. Venus and Serena Williams claimed they could beat any male player ranked higher than 200. So a guy named Karsten Braasch took them up on the challenge. He agreed to play a set with each of Williams sisters. He was ranked 203 at the time.
Braasch told reporters this after hearing about the challenge:
At the time I was ranked 203 so the men's tour manager mentioned the possibility of a challenge to me, thinking that I was the perfect candidate. I didn't take much persuading, it seemed like a fun thing to do. My advice if you're ever in a position to play a match of this nature is be patient - don't be annoyed or surprised if your match against the Williams sisters is cancelled, as they both have very busy schedules. My game against them had to be re-organised at least a couple of times.
Once all of the schedules were worked out, the challenge was on. Braasch describes what happened on the big day:
My first game of the afternoon, just a one-set match, was against Serena. We started playing and I raced into a 5-0 lead. At this point Venus turned up to watch. She had just finished a press conference after a quarter-final loss against Lindsey Davenport. In the end I won my game against Serena 6-1 but by the time we were at the net shaking hands, Venus was on court, ready to have a go against me as well. The game against Venus was very similar. I ended up winning 6-2.
Braasch later told reporters the spin in the women's game is just not the same and both sisters had trouble dealing with it. He also says he could get to balls that would be winners against many women.
There's a funny ending to this story. Braasch says he ran into Venus a few months later at the French Open and she told him "You know that thing in Australia - it never happened!"
So it has been tested with a player in the top 200 and that was in 1998 when the Williams sisters were much younger and quicker. So I might have to rethink my theory about Serena VS a Guy.