Serena Williams Facing the End?

US Open betting

The tennis world was shocked on Tuesday when Serena Williams was thrashed 6 – 1, 6 – 0 by Britain’s Johanna Konta in the first round of the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, California.

For Williams the match statistics make for grim reading – beaten in 52 minutes, her first bagel in four years, and the first time as a professional tennis player she has failed to win at least two games in a match.

Furthermore, a fact that she lost to Konta, a player who own form has slumped so badly in the past year that her world ranking has slipped from a career high of 4 to her current standing of 48, seemed to add greater significance to the loss.

It has even prompted some commentators to ask if this signals the beginning of the end for multiple Grand Slam winner Williams as a major force in the game.

However, before her tennis obituaries are written, some context should be put on the result. First of all, Williams played poorly, hitting just nine winners and making 25 unforced errors.

There were double faults, missed drop shots and service returns hit long and wide. In other words she had a bad day at the office – it can happen even to the best. Secondly, her opponent played well, hitting 17 winners and making just 9 unforced errors of her own.

Konta played a good match and deserves some credit.

It also needs to be realised that Williams was playing her first match since losing the Wimbledon final to Angelique Kerber, and was understandably rusty, so Konta played her at an opportune time.

Those who argue that Williams is on the wane will point to the fact that, at 36-years old, she is bound to be in the twilight of her career – although older sister Venus, two years her senior, is still ranked in the World top ten.

They also contend that the old Williams’ drive is no longer there since her maternity leave, and that having played only five tournaments since her return to the tour, she lacks the motivation of before.

Which is hardly borne out by her performance at Wimbledon, where she got to the final, despite only being seeded 25th, even if she was well beaten by Kerber in the end?

Certainly Williams does not seem happy in herself at the moment, nor with tennis in general, claiming last week that doping authorities in the US were actively discriminating against her by testing her more than any other player on the women’s tour.

However, all this does not amount to evidence of a terminal decline. According to the latest US Open betting odds, Serena Williams is still a favourite to win the title and equal Margaret Court’s Grand Slam singles record of 24 titles, and whilst she may not possess all her powers of old, as she showed at Wimbledon, she still has enough know-how and prowess to go deep into a major tournament.

The lioness may be licking her wounds after events in San Jose, but expect her to come out fighting at Flushing Meadows.

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