Here is a look at this week’s “three stars” – according to X Marks the Sport.
1. Serena Williams (Women’s Tennis)
Fighting through illness, Serena Williams persevered to win her 20th Grand Slam singles tournament with a win over Lucie Safarova in the 2015 French Open Final. At less than full strength, Williams won four matches during this week, with three of those wins coming in three sets. The most impressive part of her run was her domination in the third sets. During the last four rounds of the tournament, she won a combined 18 of 23 (78.3%) games she played in the do or die third sets. It’s speaks to Williams’ unsurpassed determination to be at her absolute best in those deciding sets, when given her physical condition she should have been at her worst. With Saturday’s title clinching win, Williams broke a tie with Helen Wills to take sole possession of 3rd place on the all-time Women’s Grand Slam singles titles list.
2. Carlos Martínez (SP – St. Louis Cardinals)
The Dodgers have had enough of Carlos Martínez. In the past week, they had to face him twice and both times he dominated. In his two starts against Los Angeles, Martínez pitched 14 innings surrendering just 4 hits and 1 run (good for a 0.64 ERA) while amassing 19 total strikeouts. These performances came after two previous scoreless starts from Martínez, so he’s been on fire for a while now. But what really made this a stand out week for him is what he did last Sunday. Martínez, visibly emotional on the mound, fired seven shutout innings to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Major League debut of the highly touted Oscar Taveras (May 31). Taveras, who was very close to Carlos Martínez, passed away last fall in a car accident at the age of 22. To honor the memory of his fallen teammate and friend, Martínez switched his jersey to Taveras’ #18 last winter. So the win on Sunday was as special as a win in May could possibly get for Martínez.
3. American Pharoah (horse racing)
X does not like to consider horse racing a true sport since it is about the competitive performances of horses (and the questionable treatment of them during the races) instead of humans. However, X will acknowledge that there are plenty of folks who feel American Pharoah’s victory yesterday was a significant sports moment. It is difficult for a horse to win a relative marathon race like the Belmont Stakes (12 furlongs) right after pulling off victories at the Kentucky Derby (10 furlongs) and the Preakness (9.5 furlongs). Owner Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza are all too familiar with that fact. They probably cherish this moment even more than most owners and jockeys would after coming so close to the Triple Crown on multiple previous occasions – just to see it slips through their hands at the Belmont. It was indeed a treat for horse racing fans to see something that hadn’t occurred in 37 years.