Number 23 is as powerful in basketball as it is in the world of tennis. That’s why basketball’s 23 had a special gift for Serena Williams when she captured Grand Slam title No. 23 Saturday at the Australian Open.
Williams won her record-setting 23rd career Grand Slam title Saturday at the Australian Open, knocking off her sister Venus in straight sets at Rod Laver Arena.
She joined the ESPN broadcast for an interview after the victory, where she was surprised with a gift from a very special fan.
“What is this guys?” Williams asked as a heavy wooden box with “23 grand slams” was slid across the studio desk.” I don’t like surprises.”
Inside was a note from Michael Jordan and two pairs of custom NikeCourt Flare AJ1s with “23s” near the heel. Williams said the shoes — a red pair and a pink pair both with black accents — were in her favorite colors. She also read off the note Jordan included in the box.
Winning is hard. It takes years of hard work, mental toughness, and a willingness to accept the fact that you hate to lose. Congratulations with much respect on winning number 23. It will be a privilege to keep watching your determination on the court.
You can tell Williams really likes the shoes because she put on a pair immediately after her win. Here’s her in action against Venus in the final. Note the bright yellow swooshes.
And here she is after the trophy presentation on the court.
She notes she was wearing a pair of these earlier in the interview, which makes me think these are a special set she might not be sporting anytime soon. They’re also probably a bit different than the Serena Williams x Jordan collection Nike announced the shortly after her record-setting title win.
But despite it all being a solid branding opportunity, it’s pretty touching to see one of the greatest athletes ever show some reverence for the greatest women’s tennis player of all time. Nike did something similar with Roy Williams when he won his 800th game recently, but this was even more special.