Serena stutters again in Slam record pursuit

Monday, September 9th, 2019 00:00 |

New York, Sunday

After a Serena Williams forehand winner landed just beyond the reach of Bianca Andreescu early in the second set of the US Open final, a woman seated several rows behind the chair umpire rose to her feet and shouted, “Go get yours, queen!” Williams was expected to get a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at Arthur Ashe Stadium, which would have marked her first major win since she had a baby in 2017.

Instead, those fans witnessed Williams overwhelmed 6-3, 7-5 by a 19-year-old who represents a new wave of players that the best player of her generation has birthed: young, fierce stars who want to replicate Williams’ dominance.

Which leaves a major question for Williams as she ends the year still in pursuit of Margaret Court’s record: Can she still reach it?

Or is losing four straight majors over the past two years against four different women without winning a set an indication that her window is creeping shut?

“I can definitely say I’m not really happy, but I have to take it one moment at a time,” Williams said after the match.

“I honestly didn’t play my best. … It’s inexcusable for me to play at that level.”

That level for Williams — 33 unforced errors, 44 per cent of first serves in play — was well below her standard, particularly for someone who hardly broke a sweat in winning her previous two matches in straight sets.

But most inexcusable for Williams were the eight double faults that came at crucial moments: consecutive ones to lose her first service game, which put Williams in an early hole, and five of them in the second set as she was attempting a comeback.

“I was thinking, OK, Serena, you didn’t miss a serve, you lost serve maybe twice in the whole tournament,” Williams said. “And you didn’t hit a first serve in today. -BBC

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