“OK, Serena, you can do this if you want”: Williams hints at playing US Open
Serena Williams can’t be satisfied by her result in Wimbledon but she didn’t give much insight on the next step in her career
Second-guessing Serena Williams has been an impossible task throughout her career, the 23-time Grand Slam champion always doing things her way.
And the same thing applies now to her future, be that retirement, or to doubling down and playing at the US Open.
In the immediate aftermath of her first-round defeat at Wimbledon by Harmony Tan, Williams said she was unsure whether she will play again, saying she is thinking only of now.
Decision soon for the US Open
If she wants to play at the US Open, she’ll have to make a decision soon, in order to be fitter and more like the old Serena than the one who could not beat Tan, even if the Frenchwoman played smart, inspired tennis.
But there were hints in what the American did say, that even a couple of months short of her 41st birthday, she may have the desire to carry on.
“It definitely makes me want to hit the practice courts because when you’re playing not bad and you’re so close… any other opponent probably would have suited my game better,” she said.
“So yeah, I feel like it’s actually kind of like, OK Serena, you can do this if you want.”
How long she wants to play on is anyone’s guess but it seems likely that, fitness permitting, she will play at the US Open.
“When you’re at home, especially in New York, and the US Open, that being the first place I’ve won a Grand Slam, is something that’s always super special. Your first time is always special,” she said.
“There’s definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home.”
Williams said she felt good, physically, although she was feeling it in the deciding tiebreak.
Having decided to play Wimbledon late – on the eve of the event she said it had been “before the French” – Williams has not had much time on the practice court and even less on the match court.
I’m moving well, I’m getting a lot of balls back. I’m moving well in practice, as well.Serena Williams
She looked sharp in Eastbourne, but that was doubles, where she only had to cover half of the court. Against Tan, who moved her around, played drop shots and gave her no pace to feed off, Williams struggled.
“Last couple of points I really started to feel it,” she admitted. “But I’m moving well, I’m getting a lot of balls back. I’m moving well in practice, as well.
“That wasn’t surprising for me because I knew I was doing that well. I didn’t practise for a three-hour match…I guess that’s where I went wrong.”
Signs of the old Serena
This was not the Serena of old; it was never likely to be after a year away, much of which was spent waiting for the hamstring injury she suffered at Wimbledon last year to heal.
And yet, there were plenty of signs of the old Serena, the incredible drop shot late in the deciding set, the roar when she won a big point as the match got tight.
Williams knows it was a match she should have won and in her pomp doubtless she would have won it easily. She handled the occasion as well as ever, she just didn’t win.
“You’ve got to think if I were playing matches I wouldn’t miss some of those points or this match,” she said.
“I really was out there and was fighting and doing what I could do,” she said. “I was calm, you know, ish, for me. I wasn’t angry. That was a huge win for me, biggest win ever. And I didn’t smash any racquets.”
Not happy if it was her last match at Wimbledon
Ersing the memory of last year’s injury was important. That was not the way Williams wanted to sign off from Wimbledon, a tournament she has won seven times.
But she also won’t want to end her Wimbledon career losing to Tan, either.
“Obviously not,” she said, when asked if she would be happy if that was her last match at Wimbledon. “You know me. Definitely not.
“But today I gave all I could do. Maybe tomorrow I could have given more. Maybe a week ago I could have given more. But today was what I could do.
“At some point you have to be OK with that. And that’s all I can do. I can’t change time or anything.”
At 40, soon to be 41, time is running out for Williams but whatever she does next, her legacy is secure.
“Don’t be afraid to be different, don’t be afraid to stand out. I think that’s been me,” she said. “I love changing the game. That’s something I never set out to do and then somehow I did it. Somehow I’m Serena. That’s pretty awesome.”