The expectations that Serena Williams faces in 2013 are truly immense.
After losing in the first round of the French Open, Williams has only dropped one match since.
Injuries have indeed limited her schedule, but since the last week of May she has won Wimbledon, the United States Open and the gold medal at the Olympics in London.
Right now, Williams is the best female player on the planet and the gap between her and the rest the field seems to grow every round.
So, is it possible for Williams to somehow exceed those lofty expectations? Yes.
Williams has a chance to do in 2013 something that has not been done since Steffi Graf did it in 1988—win the calendar year grand slam.
Along with Graf, only Margaret Court has been able to do that since professionals were allowed to play in the majors in 1968. For the record, Court did that in 1970.
Williams is one of four women that has held all four major championships at the same time in the Open era.
She captured the French Open, Wimbledon and the 2002 United States Open in the same year before going to Australia and winning the 2003 Australian open. Only Martina Navratilova, an all-time great herself, was able to do that, capturing the same run of majors in 1984 and 85.
Williams, of course, has to remain healthy.
She took a nasty spill, rolling her ankle in her first-round match Tuesday in Melbourne against Edina Gallovits-Hall, and still won 6–0, 6–0.
If she can win a match without losing a game on just one leg, what is she going to do to players when she is fully healthy?
Williams is the only top star in the world right now that can consistently hold her serve. The advantage she gets just from doing that will win her a few matches along the way.
She also plays with tremendous power. When that first serve is good, it is still one of the hardest in the business.
Williams is not intimidated by anyone else on the court right now, with the possible exception of her sister Venus. When you add her experience—she currently holds 15 Grand Slam titles—and her self-confidence, she is not going to allow herself to beat herself on the court.
If someone else is going to beat her in a singles match in a major this year, they are going to have to outplay her in every aspect of the game.
Like Graf in 1988, Williams is just the best player by far. Until another woman can serve as consistently as she does, Serena’s biggest opponent this year is her own health.