Highly acclaimed tennis superstar Serena Williams almost made history in this year’s Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) play. After a win against older sister Venus Williams in the U.S. Open Quarterfinals, she was just two victories away from earning her 22nd Grand Slam title.
However, Serena was upset by the unranked Roberta Vinci in the Semifinal match, leaving tennis fans utterly shocked.
Serena was seeking the highly sought after calendar slam, tying former WTA star Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam titles and the only calendar slam since Graf’s era.
She cruised through the major tournaments earlier in the year, winning the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon. Despite serving a total of 16 aces in her Semifinal match, it was not enough to shut down the unseeded Vinci, who took the match in three sets, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
What really caused the loss?
After a near-perfect Grand Slam record, Serena’s exit from the tournament was unprecedented. The most obvious reason for the loss is pressure.
Everyone was expecting Williams to break records. Even a panel of ESPN experts, including former tennis players Chris Evert and Mary Joe Fernandez, predicted Serena would take home the title.
She is known for letting her emotions take control, most famously for her outburst at the 2009 U.S. Open, which caused her to be “penalized a point on match point,” handing the match to Kim Clijsters.
Many people fail to consider the performance of Roberta Vinci as a factor in the surprising loss. As reported by the New York Times, Serena Williams referred to Vinci’s performance as “inspiring,” even going so far as to say that “she played literally out of her mind.” That statement is reflected in the stats.
Though Serena led the match in winners, she also led in unforced errors, committing twice as many as Vinci. Both players had good and bad moments, but Vinci had less of the latter.
Though the match did not end how many expected, one fact remains constant. With her 21 Grand Slam titles, Olympic medals, and incredible skill, Serena Williams will go down in history as one of the greatest female tennis players – and greatest female athletes- of all time.
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