No one can deny that Serena Williams is the top player of her generation. However, she has been known to throw in a clunker or two and often loses her focus and discipline during a match. Williams also often fails to make necessary adjustments over the course of a match. Certainly any notions that she is the best player in history can easily be debunked. If anything, it can be argued that she is overrated and is an underachiever. Here are three recent Grand Slam events Serena should have won but managed to let slip away.
2014 French Open
Serena has grown more comfortable playing on clay over the years. She was the defending champion at Roland Garros and France has become her second home. She had won her warm-up event, the Italian Open, on clay. Furthermore, a formidable rival, Victoria Azarenka was sidelined by an injury. Li Na, currently ranked second in the world, and Agnieszka Radwańska, ranked third, both made early exits from the second major tournament of the year. Only Maria Sharapova would have remained as someone who had the credentials to seriously challenge a focused Serena. But Williams sports a 16-2 lifetime record against Sharapova, including 4-0 on clay. So with all of these things in her favor, what did Serena Williams do? She fell out of the tournament in the second round. Serena was ousted by little-known 20-year-old Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who made it to the quarterfinals before being stopped by Sharapova. Given Serena’s dominance over Sharapova and the fact that Sharapova was struggling mightily with her serve– overcoming eight double-faults in the quarterfinals, nine in the semifinals and 12 more in her final match– it is a pretty safe bet to say Serena would have beaten her and gone on to win the event. So Serena Williams definitely let a golden opportunity fall by the wayside.
Serena was in fine form during the spring and summer of 2013. She won the French Open and U.S. Open that year. Sandwiched in-between was Wimbledon, played on grass which has proven to be the favorite surface for both Serena and her sister Venus. Serena had won five previous Wimbledon titles and finished runner-up two times. After her archrival Victoria Azarenka had to withdraw before the second round with a serious knee injury, Williams was in a position where the tournament was hers to lose. And lose she did, falling to little-known Sabine Lisicki, who went on to reach the final, where she lost to Marion Bartoli. Since then Lisicki has not gone beyond the third round in a major. Williams previously had beaten Bartoli three of four times and should have had little problems dispatching her on the London grass. This 2013 Wimbledon was another major Serena should have won but let go down the drain.
2011 U.S. Open
In the finals of the 2011 U.S. Open, an overconfident Williams lost at home in straight sets to Samantha Stosur. In 13 years of playing in Grand Slam Tournaments, Stosur has won one major title and made it to the final on only one other occasion. She has never been ranked higher than fourth in the world. There is no way Serena should have lost in her home country to a game but journeyman player like Stosur.
How Serena will be viewed in history
Had Serena won these three events she would have been triumphant in 20 major tournaments. When motivated, Serena has been at times almost unbeatable. But there have been incredible lapses where she loses to players she should be able to beat in her sleep. There have been far too many majors where she played far below her gifts, losing in the second, third or fourth rounds. Great players routinely go deep into the late rounds of these tournaments. Inconsistency has been Serena’s middle name. At 32 she is nearing the end of that small window of time when a tennis player can successfully go through grueling two-week majors. Her 17 major singles wins are remarkable, as are her 13 doubles titles in majors with her sister Venus as a partner. But there is no question Serena has left a lot of victories in major events on the table.
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