Everyone expected Serena Williams to win this year’s US Open. She didn’t.
She lost to Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals, and missed the chance to become only the fourth woman in history to complete a calendar slam. And now her coach has said the world No 1 may not play again this year, so disappointed is she with her loss at Flushing Meadows.
Patrick Mouratoglou, who has coached Williams since 2012, questioned whether she was in the right frame of mind, and told ESPN W: “When Serena lost in Toronto [in August], she was very disappointed, but we went back to practice the morning after because she wanted to win the US Open.
“But after this year and the three grand slams [she won in 2015], the question is how high her motivation is to play those tournaments. I don’t think she should play if the motivation is not really high.”
Williams is scheduled to play in the China Open next week and the WTA Finals in Singapore at the end of October, but she hasn’t competed since that defeat in New York, described by some as the biggest upset in the history of women’s tennis. The unseeded Vinci had never previously gone beyond the quarter-finals of a major tournament, and Williams had won the previous four grand slams, stretching back to last year’s US Open.
But the Italian Vinci stopped Williams in her tracks, winning 2-6 6-4 6-4 in exactly two hours, and shredded the joy of Serena Williams fans around the world.
Mouratoglou said Williams felt the weight of her own expectations against the veteran Vinci.
“Because she lost [the semi-final] match, she says to me her season is not good,” he said. “But I like that because it’s just about having high expectations and that’s what champions have and I think the same way.
“I don’t think the strategy was wrong, but I think she was not in the right mindset that day for her tennis, which happens, but usually I find a way to make her be better on those days,” he said. “And on this day, I did not.”
Williams, who turned 34 last Saturday, has 21 grand slam titles to her name, one behind Steffi Graf and three short of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24. Despite losing in the last four in New York, Williams already has clinched the year-end No 1 ranking, and is the hot favourite to retain her WTA Finals title, if she plays.
This article was written by Tim Hill, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 29th September 2015 21.56 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010