Serena Williams suffered her most lopsided Grand Slam final loss going down 6-2, 6-2 in less than an hour to Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.
The Romanian, who had lost on nine of the 10 previous occasions she had played the 37-year-old American, faced no breaks of serves and broke down her opponent’s serve four times to seal her second Grand Slam title.
Saturday’s blowout was the third time in the past year that Williams has failed to take the chance to equal Australian Margaret Court’s Grand Slam titles record of 24 – her stated goal on returning from giving birth to her daughter Olympia.
Losses to Angelique Kerber in last year’s Wimbledon final and then a meltdown in the US Open final against Naomi Osaka, after which she says she went to see a therapist, were painful enough.
Williams admitted that she needed to learn to win a title again.
“I just have to figure out a way to win a final. Maybe it is playing other finals outside of Grand Slams would be really helpful just to kind of get in the groove so by the time I get to a Grand Slam final I’m kind of used to what to do and how to play,” she said after the match.
Nevertheless, Williams refused to accept that the record may elude her.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I mean, I don’t really think about it. I just go out there and play, see what happens. That’s kind of how I’ve been in my whole career. You know, I never thought about time in general. I feel like I’m just really on this journey of just doing the best that I can, playing the best that I can when I can.”
Her lethargic performance – she only really got fired up in the first game of the second set yelling at the ground when she won a point – provoked one spectator to cry out: “Wake up Serena!”
“Actually I did hear it,” she said. “I definitely wasn’t asleep. But I did hear it. Actually, sometimes the comments help me, whether they’re good or bad. It didn’t bother me at all.”
“I just was trying different things. Today nothing really helped, but I also made way too many errors for a lot of stuff to work.
“I think she was getting so many balls back. I do have a strategy for players that do get a lot of balls back, which I thought about far too late. I think I was overhitting it, trying to go for too much. She was getting just a tremendous amount of balls back,” she said analysing her loss.
The American also said she did not know if as age advances she is getting more tense about winning another Grand Slam.
“Now, you know, in my 20s – I’m always expected to win, but it’s a different circumstance for me,” she said. Seems like every Grand Slam final I’m in recently has been an unbelievable effort to get there. It would be interesting to see how it would be under different circumstances.
“The only thing I can say is today I think my opponent played unbelievable.”
However, if anyone thought that such a humbling defeat might prompt thoughts of retirement Williams had a message for them.
“I feel like I’m still incredibly competitive or else I wouldn’t really be out here. For the most part, I feel like I’m on the right track.
“I’m just going in the right direction in terms of getting back to where I need to be.”
With AFP Inputs