After her third consecutive Grand Slam final defeat – this time at the hands of Simona Halep at Wimbledon – Serena Williams reflected on her losing run.
I just have to figure out a way to win a final, the American great said. Maybe it is playing other finals outside of Grand Slams would be really helpful just to kind of get in the groove so by the time I get to a Grand Slam final Im kind of used to what to do and how to play.
True to her word, at the next tournament she entered the 23-time major winner stormed to the final of the Rogers Cup. The final obstacle in her path was 19-year-old home favourite – and one of the most exciting prospects in the tennis sphere – Bianca Andreescu.
But she was forced to retire, meaning two unfortunate streaks continued: Williams has now lost all four of her tournament finals since pregnancy – despite entering all as the favourite – while she has failed to complete any regular WTA event outside of the Slams in 2019 due to physical issues.
The same back spasms that left Williams in tears at the side of the court after just four games against the Canadian teenager have also forced her out of this weeks Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, with her preparations ahead of a Grand Slam once again hampered.
Wherever the 37-year-old goes the spotlight burns bright, but attention levels may well be at an all-time high given her last outing at her home Slam.
Few will forget her astonishing meltdown in the Arthur Ashe Stadium as she clashed with umpire Carlos Ramos on her way to a controversy-filled straight sets defeat to Japans Naomi Osaka.
Her verbal assault on Ramos – in which she branded him a sexist, liar and a thief, earning herself a game penalty in the process – made headlines far beyond the sporting world.
The interest levels in the USA are set to be ramped up in the build-up to the event with an ABC documentary titled Serena vs the Umpire airing in a matter of days.
It would be a fairytale ending for Williams if a year on from that fateful night she was able to clinch that elusive 24th Grand Slam title – equalling Margaret Courts record in the process – but doubts remain over whether she can get over the line.
While there have been impressive tournament wins over the likes of Halep and Osaka this season, her air of invincibility has been punctured by one-sided defeats in her major final appearances. Others sense she is not the force she once was.
Haleps Wimbledon demolition – her heaviest defeat in a Grand Slam final – was particularly damaging.
Williams was swept aside in just 56 minutes by the Romanian on what was – traditionally, at least – Haleps least favourite surface and looked simply physically inferior to her opponent.
While the American can still use her immense power to hit through the majority of opposition, shes been unable to do so against the best players on the biggest occasions.
Questions have been repeatedly raised – most notably by Billie Jean King – over her commitment to the sport she has dominated so ruthlessly at this late stage in her career. Williams is clearly a figure who far transcends tennis.
Its fair to question whether it really matters if she gets another Slam win or not. After all, Courts majors haul was pre-Open Era, in a time when many of the worlds best players wouldnt travel to Australia, for example. In the Open Era itself, no player – man or woman – has won more Grand Slam titles than the American.
Of course, for a steely and super-ambitious competitor like Williams, finishing second is simply being the first-placed loser, despite the fact her run to three major finals following a physically and mentally traumatic childbirth process – one which she admitted could have cost her her life – is still a remarkable feat.
After the loss to Halep, she insistRead More – Source