American tennis player Serena Williams has had a banner year performing on the court. However, she had to keep her emotions in check during an interview with reporters after losing in the US Open semi-final round to Roberta Vinci on Friday Sept. 11, 2015. Williams was just one round away from a shot at winning four Grand Slam events in a calendar year. Vinci, the Italian tennis star, had lost to Williams on four earlier occasions. However, it was the supreme effort of Vinci that pushed her to win the round, advancing her to the championship matchup. Vinci became the spoiler to Williams losing her shot at recreating history, as acknowledged by her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, when he stated that “she lost her way mentally and did not play tactically well.”
At the start of 2015 all eyes were on the tennis superstar. The force of attention may have proved to be too much pressure despite Williams’ constant remarks that she did not feel any pressure to win. Of course there is a difference between pressure that restricts progress and the pressure that is created to drive a person to complete the task at hand. The road to winning all four Grand Slam singles titles has been anything but smooth. Each challenge along the way encompassed stiff competition. Overall, the process created a few tense moments that caused Williams to have to dig deep within herself to fight and emerge as the winner. At times, mistakes were made by the star athlete, and although most superstars are capable of recovering, sometimes it does not work out in their favor. Vinci, who lost to Williams when they were matched up in the quarter-final also noticed that Williams was playing tentatively. The star player double-faulting and even yelled at herself to find her way to get into the game.
It may not have been as apparent to Williams, however, she played apprehensively as though was her first time competing in a major event, giving up her shot at recreating history. Anyone that has had the privilege of watching her play for the last 20 years would perhaps agree that the pressure was too much. Since the semi-final match was postponed a day due to the rain, might it be fair to say that the emotional ups and downs, the effort to mentally prepare for a big match, and the anticipation of what was about to take place, was a factor in Williams’ ability to play well? It is one of those questions that may never be answered.
The 21-time major champion spent the year chasing history in an effort to prove it is still an achievable goal. The last player to win all four major singles titles in the same calendar year was Steffi Graf in 1988, and only a handful have come close since. After winning the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon, Williams fell short with just one more round to go. While she has won four Grand Slam tournaments in a row, they were not all within the same year. A win at the 2015 US Open would have meant five in a row to solidify the athlete’s incredible career. However, at this point, all that is left for her to do is to look to next year. As far as 2015 is concerned, Williams has lost her shot to recreate history, a disappointing end to an otherwise amazing year.
Opinion by Jireh Gibson
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