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What next for Serena Williams?

Serena Williams showing signs of frustration on Centre Court.
by Benjamin Snyder
Tuesday 2 July 2013

No.1 seed Serena Williams became the latest Roland Garros defending champion to succumb to the big serving, aggressive game of Sabine Lisicki. The younger Williams sister, touted by many to be a shoo-in for the title, especially with the early losses of Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, couldn’t escape the Lisicki curse in the fourth round of The Championships on day seven.

The American’s relatively early defeat deserves the question posed whenever she bows out at a major tournament earlier than at the championship stage: What’s next for Serena Williams?

The answer, simply: The 16-time champion leaves the All England Club more primed to win.

But having her 34-match winning streak snapped by Lisicki no doubt stung as Williams told reporters after the match, “For me any loss is extremely tough to overcome.” More surprising was Serena’s loss on the heels of such a dominating performance throughout the Fortnight against her previous opponents and a nine-game winning streak that took her to 3-0 against the German.

Knowing Serena, however, such a lost opportunity might prompt an even greater desire and add fuel to achieve in a career that’s already seen so much success.

Throughout the press conference, Serena told reporters that losing to Lisicki wasn’t such a surprise. The world No.1 put the meeting in perspective: “I think Sabine played really well, as well.” The No.1 added, “I mean, she always plays really well at Wimbledon, so I knew going in it would be a tough match.”

Serena continued, “It's not a shock. Like I said, she plays really good on grass. She has a massive, massive serve.”

“Really good” may be an understatement to describe Lisicki’s Wimbledon past, especially when compared to her results at the other majors. Whereas the German hasn’t cracked the fourth round anywhere else, she’s advanced to the quarter-finals or better each time she’s played, excluding a first round loss in 2008, when she lost to 2007 runner-up Marion Bartoli.

Serena added, “But, you know, there's huge room for improvement for me.” Those words illustrate the champion's mentality of the five-time Wimbledon winner and how she lives to become a better player. With such desire to succeed, there’s a good chance that she will dictate play for the remainder of the year.

And if you’re any other athlete on the WTA tour, that’s a scary thought.

“You know, just have to know that going forward, if I want to be successful, if I plan on being successful, I'm never going to do it backing off,” she said about the match in which she admitted to feeling timid at times. “I have to play the game I can play. For me that's being more aggressive.”

Serena also pointed to issues with her serve, widely regarded as the most dominant in the game. “You have to be ready and willing to hold your serve. I wasn't willing or able, probably didn't even want to hold my serve today,” she said, sarcastically.

Sarcasm aside and when Serena finds her momentarily lost form, she’ll undoubtedly hoist more major titles at the end of the day.

Directly ahead for her? Probably time back to the practice courts and the chance to catch up on some much-need rest, having played  and won  numerous matches in the past couple of months.

But the tennis season doesn’t stop even with the loss of Serena Williams and she’ll have to be ready within weeks to pick up a racket again. She has points to defend at Stanford in mid-July and there’s Cincinnati as a tune-up event to the US Open. Should she play those two tournaments and look sharp (or even sharper) and with the Lisicki loss dominant in her conscience, we may see Serena secure yet another winning streak heading into Flushing Meadows.

That is, once she’s “ready and willing.”

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