It’s not enough to be physically fit and talented; you need the added ingredient of mental strength to accomplish your goals. When you watch Roberta Vinci lose to a player like Yaroslava Shvedova, you are left with one burning question, how was she able to defeat Serena Williams? On closer examination, you realize that she was able to beat Williams because she changed the pace on the ball and used a lot slice and spin. Williams has a hard adjusting to shots without pace, it disrupts her timing. Unfortunately, Williams failed to learn from her loss to Vinci and was beaten by Angelique Kerber in the 2016 Australian Open Final. It’s unfair to think that they did nothing special; it was special enough to defeat a dominant player like Williams, especially when she had dominated their previous encounters. Yet, they both did something even more special, they both were able to consistently take Williams out of her comfort zone and executed their shots accurately enough to beat Williams in matches that were very important to her.
Vinci by defeating Williams prevented her from getting to the final of the US Open and potentially winning a Grand Slam. Kerber not only completely erased any hopes of Williams being in contention for a Grand Slam; she prevented Williams from being in contention for the Golden Slam. As great as Williams is, this year may have been her last realistic chance of winning a Grand Slam. The talent is definitely still there but time is beginning to take a toll. Her body is breaking down and her mind has already begun to show signs that it is not as strong as it once was. Williams lost those matches because she could not handle the pressure of expectation: hers and the tennis world. As much as she wanted the US Open and Australian Open titles, she could not control the anxiety brought on by the potential of success. It is unfortunate when your body fails you as an athlete; however, it is worse when you lose because of mental frailness. Williams wanted so badly to win, she became afraid of losing and in the end she was tripped up by that fear.
I am a big fan of Williams and would love to see her try to go for the Grand Slam in 2017, but I realize that she may have missed a golden opportunity in 2015.