*Flushing, NY – “Oh, Canada!!” Serena Williams walks away from yet another Grand Slam final empty-handed. It’s her fourth attempt at matching Margaret Court’s 24 since she gave birth to her daughter, Olympia, the match lost to Canadian Bianca Andreescu.
Serena, the owner of a jaw-dropping 23 Grand Slam titles, was facing the ‘freshman” Canadian teen, 19-years-old, who had never made much noise in a Grand Slam until this year’s US Open. In fact, she had lost in qualifying in the two years previous to this one. But the teen was just too determined to win her ‘19 finals debut for Serena to get over the ‘’historic” hump that’s beset her to date. Maybe its nerves, but the final scoreline was a disappointing 6-3, 7-5.
The lead up to making the final seemed relatively easy for the 6-time champion, as she swept aside the bulk of her competition with relative ease. But, Bianca Andreescu brought her A-game and refused to meet with that same fate. Andreescu is the first teen to claim the big prize since Maria Sharapova (the irony) in 1993, and the first Canadian to win a singles Grand Slam.
There were high hopes, as Serena was poised to take the first game, serving first, but a few unforced errors cost her that first service game and she never fully recovered. The 38-year-old is known to start slow, but this time proved too costly, as the Canadian had nothing to lose and brushed off any trouble she found herself in with big, smart serves. She took the first set 6-3, but there was still the second, which being an experienced champion, the pro-Serena crowd held out hope that she’d shake her nerves and level the match. It didn’t happen.
Perhaps with a broken spirit and memories of past failures, Serena came out of the gates slowly. She allowed her confident opponent to leap out to a 4-1 lead, before she dug deep enough to at least put up her signature fight. The match wore on and Serena found enough fire to level it 5-all, but by then the emotional and physical tank was depleted and she surrendered the match, 3-6. 7-5. Her fight just was too little, too late.
Stats wise, the match was lost on a low first-serve percentage, 44%, and an unfavorable winner to unforced errors ratio, 33/33 … which possessing the best serve in the women’s game she’ll rue once she processes it. It just, again, wasn’t her day. Andreescu came with only a title to gain and nothing really to lose (given her status) and she played exactly that way.
If there’s any consolation, at least Serena genuinely likes Andreescu … and she said as much during her on-court interview:
“Outside of Venus, she’s the only other person who I would’ve wanted to win the tournament …,” she said.
Or was that her undoing? Maybe she need to hate her opponent, as she seems to feel about Sharapova (who she beast 6-1, 6-0 in the first round and 19 consecutive times before), to come with the game to drill her opposition into the ground. At this late stage, that’s certainly an avenue that she needs to explore.
That theory remains to be seen, but who knows when Serena Williams, being the great and storied champion that she is, will surrender once and for all and give up the “hands-down greatest?” But for now its another valiant, but failed attempt at taking home that elusive 24th tittle, making her the undisputed GOAT. Close, but the Andreescu is smoking the big, celebratory cigar.
Our love and hope still springs eternal for our champion, Serena Williams, but the 2019 chapter for her has come to a decisive “almost, but ….” close.
“I have to figure out how to get ‘Serena’ to show up in finals,” she said. “That’s the hard part.”
Congrats to Bianca Andreescu … You’ve done Canada proud.