TENNIS ICON Serena Williams remains just two Grand Slam wins away from being dubbed the greatest of all time.
However, one has to ask does she still have the technical skill, and maybe more importantly the mental fortitude, to equal and/or surpass Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slam titles? The younger Williams sister has 23 titles, but her shock US Open 6-3 7-5 loss to Bianca Andreescu in the US Open final at Flushing Meadows was the case of another young gun dining out on a legendary tennis player who may well have played one big match too many.
This correspondent was not totally surprised by Williams’ demise. After all this was the American’s fourth Grand Slam finals defeat since the birth of her daughter Alexis two years ago. Has she got the game to be a winner again?
“I believe I could have just been more Serena today,” said Williams, a six-time champion at Flushing Meadows. “I honestly don’t think Serena showed up.I have to kind of figure out how to get her to show up in Grand Slam finals. It’s inexcusable for me to play at that level.”
Well, with every defeat the belief surely goes while younger opponents know that if they can seize their chance they can dethrone the queen of tennis.
It’s becoming a painful watch for Williams’ legion of supporters around the globe. Her trouncing at Wimbledon against a red up Simona Halep was like watching a boxer take one punch too many.
But the pain must be even more intense for the player herself who, along with her sister Venus, has set the standard for two outstanding decades.
Williams was competing in her 10th US Open singles final, 20 years after her maiden victory in New York, while Canadian youngster Andreescu was participating in her first Grand Slam final on her main- draw debut in the US Open.
Andreescu was not even born when Williams won her first Grand Slam title in 1999. Williams’ troubles appeared to start a year ago.
During the 2018 US Open final she was embroiled in controversy. She admitted before the win against Andreescu, that she had not thought about her bitter defeat against Naomi Osaka.
Williams, 37, called umpire Carlos Ramos a “thief” and a “liar” as he docked her a game amid extraordinary scenes on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Williams’ behaviour was unusual, to say the least.
During her illustrious career she has generally been a picture of serenity. Was this a case of her feeling the pressure and expectancy as she sought to get back to her very best? Her 24th singles title bid is all the more remarkable bearing in mind she was coached as a child by father Richard and mother Oracene and now has to deal with the pros and cons of motherhood.
Williams, who won the family’s first Grand Slam some 20 years ago when she landed the US Open for the first time, has been pivotal to the advancement of the women’s game alongside her sister, Venus who has 14 Grand Slam singles titles of her own. Both sisters added their names and voices to the push for equal pay.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King said of the pair’s efforts: “They’ve been through a lot themselves, so they totally understand what’s going on. The two of them have transcended sports.”
Ironically, golf icon golf great Tiger Woods was an interested spectator at Flushing Meadows. He and Williams are known to have a mutual professional bond. Earlier this year, Woods – after health and personal issues – stuck two fingers up to his doubters.
The question is can Williams do the same or has Mother Time caught up with one of the all- time greats?