“Tough to Have a First Match on Clay”: Serena Williams Reflects on Italian Open 2021 Exit

Published 05/13/2021, 5:30 AM EDT
Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her second round match against Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


The script was for Serena Williams to mark her career’s 1000th match in Rome with a win. But it didn’t turn out that way. The 23-time Grand Slam champion crashed out of the Italian Open after losing her opening encounter in straight sets to unheralded Argentine Nadia Podoroska on Wednesday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

While the romantics or those obsessed with milestones would be disappointed that Serena’s milestone match ended in a chastening defeat, the outcome, though shocking, wasn’t entirely on unexpected lines.

The 39-year-old was playing her first match on Tour, and that too, on clay, since her agonizing semi-final loss to eventual champion Naomi Osaka at this year’s Australian Open.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her second round match against Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Though the champion fought hard and there was, in fact, a point in the second set when she broke back and was in with a chance to take the match to a decider, she struggled to find her feet on clay and it proved decisive in the end.

Serena Williams conceded it was tough to make her comeback on clay

Speaking to reporters after the match, Serena conceded and said that it was “tough” to play her comeback match on dirt.

The four-time Rome champion added that while it was encouraging that she managed to stay in the contest despite coming off an extended break from tennis, she was way off her best.

“It’s tough to have a first match on clay. So it was definitely kind of good to go the distance and to try to be out there. But clearly, I can do legions better,” Serena said.

DIVE DEEPER

Venus and Serena Williams Announce Positive News Following Italian Open 2021 Disappointment

4 months ago

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The three-time French Open champion added that she needs a few more matches to find her groove ahead of Roland-Garros.

Serena says she’ll figure out a way to play a few more matches

Serena said that she would sit down with her coach Patrick Mouratoglou and other members of her contingent and try to find a way to get a few more games into her legs before the action shifts to Paris.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

“I just gotta get there. Maybe I do need a few more matches. So I’m gonna try to figure that out with my team and my coach and see what we’d like to do,” the seven-time Wimbledon champion said.

Serena added that though she has been training for months, “it’s different” coming into a match, especially on clay, and making that “last adjustment.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT