Can Serena Williams Shake Off Two Months of Rust and Taste Glory Again at Italian Open 2021?

Published 05/11/2021, 8:50 AM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her first round match against Germany’s Laura Siegemund REUTERS/Loren Elliott


As she put a hand across her chest and waved sombrely at the Melbourne crowd amid a standing ovation, many feared it could be the last time they were seeing Serena Williams walking off a tennis court.

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The immediate vibes from the 23-time Grand Slam champion after going down in straight sets to eventual champion Naomi Osaka in the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open suggested that tennis wouldn’t figure in her thoughts for some time yet.

Serena Williams says she’s feeling “really good” ahead of Rome return

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In tears after being asked to share her thoughts on the soul-crushing loss, Serena cut her post-match press conference short with two words — “I’m done”.

Many interpreted her telling remark as an extension of her fragile mental state and wondered if she could ever find the motivation to return to a tennis court.

While those apprehensions around her future in tennis have been put to rest for now, what’s of concern for her fans at the minute is whether the 39-year-old American can immediately hit her straps and start from where she left off at Melbourne Park on her return to competitive action.

While it can’t be determined if it was to heal the mental scars from yet another disappointing Grand Slam campaign, prolonging her wait for the 24th title that would put her level with the legendary Margaret Court’s career haul, Serena took an extended break from tennis post the Australian Open.

As a result, she skipped a plethora of Tour events, including the prestigious Miami Open and the more recent, Madrid Open.

Asked how ready she was for Rome at a pre-tournament press conference, Serena joked that she doesn’t even know where she is in the rankings right now.

However, she was quick to put jokes aside, saying that she was feeling “really good” ahead of the Italian Open and had put in long training hours for the event.

“Everything is fine. I feel really good. I’ve trained a lot to be ready on clay so that’s good,” the American said.

Patrick Mouratoglou had talked up Serena’s French Open chances

As longtime coach Patrick Mouratoglou put it, clay presents the best chance for the champion to finally get the monkey off her back and win her elusive 24th title.

While saying that being the slowest of all three surfaces, one has to force the pace on clay and cover a lot more ground, he backed the veteran to have a strong and successful run at Roland-Garros if she can hold her fitness and health.

“I feel if she’s really, really ready, physically 100 per cent, then she can be very dangerous on clay as well,” Mouratoglu, nicknamed ‘The Coach’, was quoted as saying in a recent interview.

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Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 16, 2021, Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her quarter final match against Romania’s Simona Halep REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

One suspects that a lot of how Serena fares at the French Open would depend on how she goes at Rome.

For her to be feeling “really good” is an ominous sign for rivals and her fans would hope that her pre-tournament talk would translate into a title in the Italian capital.

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DIVE DEEPER

“Don’t Even Know Where I Am”: Serena Williams Jokes on Her Ranking Ahead of Italian Open 2021

5 months ago

A pass master in the art of bouncing back when written off, expect another glorious return for the champion at the Italian Open.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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