“She’s Just Not Played Enough”: Legend Plays Down Serena Williams’ French Open Chances, Raises Wimbledon Hopes

Published 05/16/2021, 8:46 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


Tennis great Martina Navratilova has backed Serena Williams to end her prolonged title drought in Grand Slams at this year’s Wimbledon Championships.

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The 39-year-old American hasn’t won a Grand Slam title since lifting the 23rd of her career at the 2017 Australian Open. 

Though she was typically at her menacing and marauding best at Melbourne Park this year, the champion couldn’t bring home the gravy in the end as she went down in the semifinals to eventual champion Naomi Osaka. The loss prolonged her agonizing wait for an elusive 24th title that would put her on level with the legendary Margaret Court’s career haul of Major trophies.

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Serena Williams’s lack of match time showed in Rome: Navratilova

However, Navratilova reckons that Serena has a “very good chance” to lift her eighth career Wimbledon title this year.

Speaking during Amazon Prime Video’s broadcast of the ongoing Italian Open, the 18-time former Grand Slam champion said that she doesn’t see her fellow American winning the French Open this year but there’s a good chance of her ending her title wait on the lawns of All-England.

“Very little chance at Roland-Garros, very good chance at Wimbledon,” Navratilova said.

Marking her return to the Tour since the disappointment at Melbourne Park, Serena lost her opening clash in Rome to unheralded Argentine Nadia Podoroska.

The legend added that there aren’t enough events between now and Roland-Garros for the American to get enough matches under her belt and find her groove on clay ahead of the French Open.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 03: Serena Williams of the United States is seen during the set break in her match against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria during day four of the WTA 500 Yarra Valley Classic at Melbourne Park on February 03, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

“You need more match play. Serena had not played since the Australian Open. As you get older, you need to pair your schedule down and play a little bit less but she’s just not played enough and that shows up,” the nine-time Wimbledon champion said.

Martina Navratilova says Serena Williams has wilted when tested

Navratilova added that though Serena’s game is right where it needs to be and she’s moving on court as she did in her halcyon years, she hasn’t quite been able to play to her usual standards when put under pressure.

“When you have to put it all together under pressure, if you haven’t been under pressure enough you will not be able to do it,” Navratilova said.

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On her loss to the Argentine, she added that Serena made some mistakes that she “normally wouldn’t make” if she had played more matches.

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She welcomed the American enlisting participation at the Parma clay-court event in the quest of more match time ahead of Roland-Garros, calling it a “great decision.”

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

978 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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