Serena Williams may have won the US Open, but she finished the tournament as one of the most surprising losers in recent history. Coming into this year’s tournament as the heavy favorite to win her third consecutive title, Williams was stunned in the semi-final by 22-year-old Dutchwoman Elise Middelhelder. She lost the final to unseeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli, and closed out the year with the No. 10 ranking. It was a major upset for the tennis world and a big blow to Williams’ undefeated season. Here are the odds from Pinnacle Sports that this unique story would develop the way it did.
The Field Was Balanced For Once
To start with, Middelhelder is an excellent player and had been performing well for years. She had never beat Venus Williams in their previous five meetings, and was hoping to finally break the pattern. And while Bartoli didn’t have much pedigree, either, she had been riding a remarkable run of success and reached the final by demolishing her competition en route. The two young stars were clearly suited for one another, as they were both making their first appearance in a major final. But Bartoli’s quest for a maiden title was ultimately halted by a rising star, and it was well-deserved justice.
Venus Williams Wasn’t Prepared For The Unexpected
Another major factor in Williams’ defeat was her own complacency. For years, the elder Williams sister has been the dominant figure in women’s tennis, and seemingly, it was only a matter of time before she would be dethroned. But this year was different, as 16-year-old Venus proved to be a force to be reckoned with, winning seven titles including the Australian Open. Having said that, it wasn’t enough to stop Serena from claiming her third straight victory at the US Open. Even more remarkably, Venus had never lost a set in their entire rivalry, managing to hold off Serena in all three of their previous meetings this year alone. While Venus didn’t play particularly well in New York, it’s clear that she is the future of women’s tennis and will be one to watch out for in the coming years.
The Return Of The Favorites
There was also a clear trend this year of the favorites losing. Maria Sharapova was the last to succumb to Serena, losing in the quarter-finals. And while there were many reasons for this, including Sharapova’s lackluster performances and Serena’s monstrous serves, there was one in particular that stood out. Sharapova’s coach Viktor Troicki said: “I think Serena’s gameplan against Maria was kind of to make her play more mental tennis. Maria is a very tactical player. She thinks the game through very clearly, and she does her homework well.” It wasn’t just coach’s words, as Serena admitted that she focused more on her studies and practice sessions, taking less interest in how Sharapova was playing. And it manifested itself during their semi-final match, as even though Sharapova was serving well and taking an early lead, Serena wasn’t forced to fight back. Instead, she continued to focus on her studies, eventually coming out on top after a grueling five-setter. Even after the match, Serena reiterated: “I prepare a lot for every match, whether it’s a Grand Slam or it’s a clay court tournament, so this is no different.”
Statistically, Serena Was The Best Of The Best
The final blow to Serena’s hopes of a third consecutive title came in the form of a strong start by Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli, who beat her in straight sets in the semi-final. Bartoli’s win over Serena was the first ever against the three-time champion. The statistics back this up – Serena was the best seed ever to lose in the final of a major tournament, and the best of the best rarely lose in the final. Serena’s win in 2014 was even more stunning as she not only dethroned Venus Williams, but she did so in the most dominating fashion possible. And once again, it came down to a straight sets defeat for the three-time champion. The last time a three-peat was achieved in another sport was by Boston Red Sox pitcher Jimmie Boston in the 1910s, and this was quite some upset considering the fact that Serena was the overwhelming favorite to win her third consecutive title.
Why Is Serena Williams’s Career So Relevant Today?
Serena Williams is arguably the greatest female tennis player of all time. She has won 21 Grand Slam titles, and has never lost a final. Those familiar with the game know that such a run of dominance is extremely rare, as only 24 players in the history of the sport have even accomplished the feat. With each passing year, Serena continues to add more achievements to her already lengthy list of titles, including this year’s US Open. As she looks back on her impressive career, it’s important to remember where she came from and all the odds that were stacked against her. The road to the top was never an easy one, and it often involved overcoming considerable adversity. But none of this seems to faze the 28-year-old, who continues to thrive in the face of all these challenges. This is largely thanks to her unwavering confidence in herself and her determination to succeed, no matter what. It would be an understatement to say that Serena’s story is remarkable, and it’s a testament to her skill and willpower that she has been able to remain at the top of her game for as long as she has. Looking ahead to the future, it’s clear that there is still plenty of tennis left in Serena. In the next year, she plans to continue competing and will be turning her attention to the grass courts of Wimbledon, in the hopes of adding to her collection of 23 major tournament victories. With each step along the way, she has proven to her doubters that she is better than she looks, and she is certainly one to watch out for in the coming months and years. And perhaps most importantly, she continues to inspire young athletes, both male and female, to follow in her footsteps and pursue their dreams, no matter how big or small they may seem. It’s not often that someone manages to rise to the top of a sport and stay there for as long as Serena has, and it would be a true shame for tennis if she stops competing at some point in the near future.