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Fighting at 40: Older Fans Take Heart in Serena’s Success…

NY (AP) Imagine should they could bottle a potion called Just Serena.

That has been Serena Williams succinct, smiling explanation for how shed managed at nearly 41, and match-rusty to defeat the worlds second-ranked player and advance Wednesday to the third round of a U.S. Open that up to now, doesnt feel similar to a farewell. Im just Serena, she said, to roaring fans.

Clearly theres only 1 Serena. But as superhuman as much found her achievement, some older fans specifically middle-aged, or beyond said they saw in Williams latest run an extremely human and relatable takeaway, too. Namely the theory they, also, could perform better and longer than they once thought possible through fitness, practice and grit.

It creates me feel great in what Im doing still within my age, said Bess Brodsky Goldstein, 63, a lifelong tennis enthusiast who was simply attending the Open on Thursday, your day after Williams overcome 26-year-old Anett Kontaveit.

Goldstein pursues her passion for the activity more vigorously than nearly all women her age. She plays many times weekly and participates in a day and time 55-and-up USTA mixed-doubles league in New England. (She also plays competitive golf.)

Yet Goldstein, like any athlete, suffers her share of aches and injuries, such as a recent knee issue that set her back a couple weeks. Watching Williams, she said, shows ordinary people that injuries or, in Williams case, a life-threatening childbirth experience five years back could be overcome. She offers you inspiration that you could reach your best, even yet in your early 60s, said Goldstein, who also had high praise for Venus Williams, Serenas older sister, competing this season at 42.

Evelyn David was also watching tennis at the Open on Thursday, And she, too, was taking into consideration the night before.

Everybody is certainly going, WHOA! said David, who smilingly gave her age as more than my 60s and may be the site director for NY Junior Tennis Learning, which works together with children and teens. She cited the physicality of Williams play, and the role of fitness in todays tennis. The rigorous training that athletes proceed through now could be different, David said. Shes going, Im not falling over. I could reach the ball.

A complete inspiration, David termed Williams performance and she had some prominent company.

MAY I put something in perspective here? former champion and ESPN commentator Chris Evert said during Wednesdays broadcast. It is a 40-year-old mother. It really is blowing me away.

Evert retired at age 34 in 1989, prior to fitness and nutrition were the prominent factors in tennis they’re now. These were even less when pioneering player Billie Jean King, now 78, was in her heyday.

For all of us older ones, it offers us hope and its own fun, King said Thursday within an interview about Williams. Puts a pep in your step. Offers you energy. She noted how fitness on the tour has changed because the 1960s and 1970s.

We didnt have the info and we didnt have the funds, King said. When people win a tournament now, they state, Many thanks to my team. Theyre so lucky to possess those people. We didnt have even a coach.

Jessica Pegula, the No. 8 seed who won on Thursday, reaches 28 a half-century younger than King. She knows well the difference fitness has made.

Its been an enormous section of it, she said. Athletes, how they look after their health, sports nutrition, the science behind training and nutrition (it) has changed so much. Back your day, you saw a new player drinking a Coke on the sideline or that they had a beer after their match. Now … health has been the No. 1 priority, whether its physical or mental. She said she remembered thinking Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Williams were all likely to retire, however they kept pushing the boundaries.

Federer, 41, hasnt played since Wimbledon this past year due to operations to his right knee, but has said hell make an effort to play Wimbledon next year, shortly before his 42nd birthday. And Nadal, 36, known for his intense devotion to fitness, has won two Grand Slam titles this season to improve his total to a mens-record 22. Nobody will be surprised if he won another major. On the other hand, Jimmy Connors famous set you back the 1991 semis of the U.S. Open when he was 39 was considered a meeting for the annals books.

In the womens game, a longtime pioneer for fitness was Martina Navratilova, who won her final Grand Slam title, the 2006 U.S. Open mixed doubles, at age 49.

Needless to say, fitness is one foundation to greatness in virtually any sport. Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons, who like Pegula is 28, noted that despite the fact that its inspiring to see Williams keep an athletic advantage partly through preparation, nobody is Serena and Venus Williams. Maybe theres some genes within that nobody else is blessed enough to possess, but its still cool to learn that, hey, despite the fact that she actually is genetically gifted, there are several items that shes done which have helped her in a significant way prolong her career.

Dr. Michael J. Joyner, who studies human performance at the Mayo Clinic, said Williams shares many traits with other superstar athletes including star quarterback Tom Brady (45 and famously un-retired ) who’ve enjoyed long careers.

Everything you see with many of these people is they stay motivated, theyve avoided catastrophic injury or theyve had the opportunity another because theyve recovered, he said. Also key: They reside in the present day era of sports medicine.

The question, he asked, is can Williams perform at exactly the same level almost every other day to win a complete tournament? He hopes so.

Williams fan Jamie Martin, who spent some time working in physical therapy since 1985 and owns a chain of clinics in NJ and Pennsylvania, said shes seeing a lot of women playing vigorous, competitive sports into middle age and beyond. Some go back to their sport, or use up a fresh one, after years of concentrating on work or family.

Williams quest for another U.S. Open title at 40 is really a reminder that women will not only remain competitive longer, but can compete now for the joy of it, she notes.

Shes really enjoying playing, said Martin, 59. Thats whats fun to view about any of it now.

Brooklyn teacher Mwezi Pugh says both Williams sisters are excellent types of living life by themselves terms which include deciding just how long they would like to play.

They’re still following their very own playbook, said Pugh, 51. Isn’t it time to retire yet, Serena? I dont like this word. I’d rather say evolution. Isn’t it time to retire, Venus? Not today.

The older you’re, the more you need to be able to create your life in the manner you prefer, and what realy works best for you personally, Pugh said. Thats what the sisters are doing, plus they are teaching most of us a lesson.


Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale, Howard Fendrich and Arnie Stapleton contributed to the report.


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