Kim Clijsters has explained the harsh truth Serena Williams is facing, in the wake of the 23-time major winner’s victory disappointing first round exit at Wimbledon.
Williams lost 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) to little-known Frenchwoman Harmony Tan, dealing another blow to the American’s hopes of equaling Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record.
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The 40-year-old had not played a competitive match since injuring her hamstring at Wimbledon last year, before joining Ons Jabeur in the Eastbourne doubles earlier this month.
Clijsters believes the lack of match practice was eye-opening for Serena, but admitted juggling motherhood and family life with professional tennis was an extremely challenging dilemma.
The former Belgian World No.1 has twice returned to tennis after giving birth and as such fully appreciates the difficulties Williams is facing.
“The hardest thing about coming back is not having enough games under your belt,” Clijsters told Eurosport.
“You may think you can rely on past experiences and think ‘I don’t need that many games’.
“That’s something I’m used to, but once you get to a certain age and when you’ve been away for a while, it’s exactly those games that you need and that becomes more and more difficult to combine with your family life.” where you also want to spend time at home.
“Her (Williams’) daughter is getting a little older and building her own little social life at home, and it’s getting harder and harder to leave for those long trips.
“That’s definitely what I felt like I was missing the most… having those games back to back and week in and week out.
“I think it will take him a little while to get over a loss that he was so close to, at such an important time.
“Even though she didn’t play much tennis, she was still highly motivated to go further in the draw and had no qualms about sharing her goals.”
Serena Williams’ serve is no longer what it used to be
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander said he agreed with Clijsters about Williams’ lack of match practice, identifying the American’s serve as the area of greatest concern.
“Everytime I see her [Williams] plays and is in a tournament, I always say ‘he can still win a Grand Slam,'” Wilander said.
“But she needs to serve better. And I feel like the last couple of years she hasn’t served anywhere near how she used to. And that’s going to be very difficult when you have such a big gun and all of a sudden it’s not available.” , you can’t rely on it that much, so that has to happen.
“Playing matches is the only way you serve under pressure. It’s easy to serve in practice, but not in big tournament matches.”
Williams admitted her first-round elimination shattered her, even if it was “definitely better than last year.”
“It definitely makes me want to go to the practice courts because when you’re playing it’s not bad and you’re so close. I feel like it’s okay, Serena, you can do this if you want.”
“I think physically I did pretty well. I feel like just on those key points, winning some of those points is a mental thing that you have to have. I did pretty well on one or two of them, but obviously not enough.” .”
Williams admits she doesn’t know what the future holds after her Wimbledon first-round exit, but has strongly hinted that she will take part in this year’s US Open.
“When you are at home, especially in New York, and the US Open, which is the first place I have won a Grand Slam, it is something that is always super special. Your first time is always special.
“There is definitely a lot of motivation to improve and play at home.”
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