Serena Williams: Wimbledon Woes and Chasing History
It was Tuesday, 28th June 2022, and the stage was set for one of tennis’ legends to return to the game – Centre Court, Wimbledon; one of the biggest stages in sport. Serena Williams was back after suffering a torn hamstring at last year’s Wimbledon. This time, the 23-time Grand Slam Champion faced a qualifier; France’s Harmony Tan; in the first round in a match that soon turned into a nail-biting three-set thriller. The first two sets were split before the drama of the third set began.
With the score tied at 4-4, Williams broke Tan’s serve and threw her hands in the air in celebration, almost as if she had won the match. It was a sigh of relief as she would now get a chance to serve for the match. As it turns out, that celebration was premature. In a pivotal moment, Tan evened things out once again, letting out a roar as she broke the Williams serve. With the score now at 6-5 in Tan’s favour, Williams fended off a match point with a spectacular smash volley; eventually bringing the set to a tie-break.
Williams dominated he first 4 points of the tie-break, going up 4-0; and it looked like the match was firmly within her grasp. But in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, Tan raised her game; winning 5 consecutive points and it was now unclear who would pull away with the win. One winner from Tan and a few unforced errors on the racket of Williams gave Tan the match. A Williams forehand into the net ended her Wimbledon campaign and left tennis fans stunned.
A quest for history
Although all credit goes to Harmony Tan for defeating one of the greatest players in the sport; what was expected to be the grand return of Serena Williams turned into an all too soon farewell.
When Serena Williams announced her return to the tennis court on Instagram, the tennis world buzzed with excitement. Williams also announced that she would be playing doubles at the Eastbourne International with Ons Jabeur before Wimbledon. The pair played two matches at that event both on Center Court; (the main tennis court) – which is a rarity, as the doubles game doesn’t get much coverage; and therefore is almost never on Center Court; proof of the weight, the “Serena Williams” name carries in tennis. A first-round doubles match played on the biggest stage of the tournament; – all in a fad to potentially witness history by one of the G.O.A.Ts (Greatest Of All Time); the most grand slam titles won.
Surprisingly enough, despite the dominance displayed by Williams over the years; she does not hold the record for most grand slam singles titles; just one shy of the record 24 held by Margaret Court. With so many great accomplishments in her career; the one box left unticked for Williams is tying that all-time record for most slams won; which she admitted in an interview with CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour in March. Williams said; “I should have had it [the record], really, I’ve had many opportunities to have it. But I’m not giving up.”
Is Wimbledon shock exit the end of the line for Serena Williams?
And although she hasn’t given up; getting that elusive 24th title has been as tricky as finding a needle in a hay stack. Williams has made 4 slam finals; 2 at Wimbledon and 2 at the US Open; since winning her last slam and having her daughter in 2017; as well as a few semifinals. But with the women’s game getting better and Williams getting older, the question is; can Serena Williams win one more Grand Slam to tie Court’s record?
Well, the answer to that is not so simple. There’s no doubt that Williams can play amazing tennis. But can she bring out and sustain that level today? Although there are more power hitters in the women’s game than ever before; Williams still remains one of the biggest hitters in the game; and in spite of the increased competition; with Williams’ aggressive style of play and many years of being at the top of the sport; she should have the edge over most players.
Wimbledon or US Open: How Serena Williams can get to #24
Considering the majority of Williams’ grand slam victories have come at Wimbledon and the US Open, 98 and 106 respectively; it’s likely that the 24th would be at one of those two slams. She has won Wimbledon 7 times, and her recent loss notwithstanding; with grass being a tricky surface for most players; one more grand slam in London for Serena, is not unthinkable.
Her advantages at the US Open are obvious; with it being her first Slam title won and her home slam. A crowd has the power to lift players in difficult moments, and it could be that the pro-Serena Flushing Meadows fans, get her over the line.
Speaking on potentially playing at her aforementioned home slam after Tuesday’s Wimbledon loss, Williams said; “there’s definitely lots of motivation to (you know) get better and to play at home.”
But it won’t be easy. Like any other athlete, Williams’ level of play is expected to decrease with age; or at the very least it would not be as easy for her to compete at her highest level.
For her part, Serena attributed her loss to a lack of preparedness stating; “I think if you’re playing week in, week out…. there’s (you know) a little bit more match toughness”. “You gotta think if I were playing matches I wouldn’t miss or lose some of those points, or the rest of this match.”
The silver lining
So, who knows? Maybe Williams can use this first round exit as motivation to come back stronger than ever; and finally capture her 24th grand slam title. When asked about her thoughts after returning to tennis; Williams mentioned saying to herself, “Ok Serena you can do this if you want.”
Moving forward, Serena Williams could have her name next to the ‘most grand slam singles titles’ record if she gets more matches under her belt before entering a grand slam; preferably WTA 500 and 1000 level events. A combination of that and motivation to redeem herself from that Wimbledon woe could put a plaster on the bleeding wound of many missed opportunities.
Like and share this article if you enjoyed! 🙂