October 31st, 2014
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Is the Serena Williams era of dominance at Grand Slams finally coming to an end?
That has to be on the mind of many, as the American superstar crashed out of Wimbledon in the third round of action. Williams crashed out of SW19 against 24th seed Alize Cornet, a player who have never before beaten a top twenty player at a Grand Slam. However, Cornet had beaten Serena Williams back in the Dubai semi finals on hard court, so perhaps there had been the underlying hint of an upset, but it was one not expected to happen on grass.
Five time Wimbledon champion Williams has failed in each Grand Slam so far this year, never having made it to the quarter finals. It is a far cry from the form which carried her to two titles last year. Williams lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open to Ana Ivanovic and then suffered a huge shock against 35th seed Garbine Muguruza in the second round of the French Open. So it is not as if it has been failings against top players in the world for her.
Williams has just one chance left now in the season to get her hands on another Grand Slam. That will be her title defence at Flushing Meadows in the US Open. Despite her failings in the 2014 Grand Slams so far, it hasn’t stopped her dominating the futures market for both the 2015 Australian Open and 2015 French Open. She is a 7/4 shot to win in Melbourne and 8/11 to lift the title in Paris next year.
But while WIlliams is saying that she wants to win more Grand Slams, she can’t be thinking that far ahead at all. Bookmakers still have her as 7/4 favourite to lift the US Open title this year, a win making it the sixth of her career and three on the bounce there. But it is not just all now about her playing ability and endurance in the game, there is a bigger factor which she is going to come up against more and more.
Because of her early exits, Williams is carrying less of a fear-factor into future games. You could previously look at a draw and plan ahead and pretty much dismiss anyone who was in the same quarter as Williams. But not any more. Players themselves will be be fancying their chances against her because of the vulnerabilities which have gone before. After the defeat against Cornet, Williams said that players always play the game of their lives against her, so it is up to her to be even better still.
For a player with 21 Grand Slam titles to her name, the question now, is will she add to it? She needs one more to draw level with Steffi Graf’s record, two to beat it. The bookmakers have started to side against her, with the chance of her winning 23 Grand Slams by the end of 2016 a massive long shot at 14/1.