Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Serena Williams – What’s next for the American?

There has been no player like Serena Williams in the history of the sport which she has dominated for so many years. Considering her 2013 season which ended with 78 wins and just 4 losses, her 2014 season was predicted to be even better. Williams’ season ended 52-8, not that bad for any player other than Williams herself. The majority of losses were early round upsets, including a fourth-round upset in Melbourne, a second-round shocker in Paris and a third-round stunner at Wimbledon.

Williams finally became herself at the end of the season, winning the US Open and claiming the WTA Finals in Singapore by avenging a round-robin defeat to Simona Halep in the final.2015 season was nothing short of immaculate, with Williams going for history at the US Open, having won the last 3 slams to add to her trophy cabinet. Italian Roberta Vinci was the hurdle Serena faced to reach her 5th consecutive Slam final. The pressure of history had taken a toll on Serena as Vinci came from a set down to oust her in a marathon contest. The after-effects of the loss were major as Serena decided to skip the rest of the season, in order to mentally refresh herself.

2016 season began and Serena was riding high expectations.Tennis pundits considered Williams the favorite for the Australian Open. Mentally and physically rested, Williams made it to the final without dropping a set and beating Sharapova and Radwanska along the way. The final saw an unfamiliar figure in Angelique Kerber. The German, playing her first Grand Slam made the most out of the moment, as she beat Williams in a nail-biter 3 set contest. She lost the Indian Wells final to Victoria Azarenka. Her Miami campaign ended in a fourth round loss to Kuznetsova. Williams finally landed her first title of the season in Rome by beating Madison Keys in the final. Also, she didn’t lose a set the whole tournament.

A pattern was forming, as Williams reached the French Open final winning 12 straight sets but was beaten by an inspired Spaniard, Garbine Muguruza. A spectacular performance in the Wimbledon final against German Angelique Kerber took Williams’ grand slam tally to 22, equaling her record with Steffi Graf’s. A rejuvenated Serena headed to Rio, for probably her last Olympics. Her campaign ended prematurely as she lost to Elina Svitolina in straight sets. The American put her No.1 ranking in jeopardy, as she withdrew from Cincinnati, citing shoulder inflammation. Kerber had to win the tournament to dethrone Williams, but she lost the final. US Open was the next stop for Williams.Surprisingly, as a turn of events, Williams lost a tense semi-final battle to Karolina Pliskova, whose booming serve proved too much for Williams. After the match, Williams acknowledged her opponent’s performance but also mentioned her knee injury as the reason for the loss, with which she drops to No.2 in the ranking with the top ranking spot occupied by Angelique Kerber.

Future still seems bright for the American. She has no points to defend from the rest of the tournaments of the season.She can regain the No.1 spot this year only.But as injury concerns rise for the American, will she be able to do it or will she end her season prematurely just like last year?

Surely, the American can’t be ruled out just like last year. Many questions remain unanswered.How she’s feeling with the body? Does she remain motivated? How she’s moving and hitting the ball? All eyes will be kept on her next tournament, which still is undecided.

But Williams has been a force to deal with, in tennis and has given the sport so much to cheer about.

Written by Mayank Sharma
A third year Engineering student at Delhi Technological University. An avid tennis fan and a die hard fan of Roger Federer. Loves writing articles on Tennis and developing Web pages.

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