I am a fan of both Serena and Venus Williams as tennis players, if you doubt that look at our Facebook page. What both sisters have accomplished in the tennis world is very impressive. What Serena has accomplished by winning twenty-three major titles in singles in addition to those in doubles is tremendous and to do this from where she (they) came from is phenomenal.
While it would be an even more special accomplishment in Serena’s tennis career if she could get to twenty-four majors, let’s be perfectly clear, she does not need that to be recognized as a great tennis player.
Pressure Destroyed Her Game
Yet, to miss so many opportunities recently to surpass Margaret Court’s record (24 major singles titles) leaves many with questions. Serena first announced indirectly to the world that the pressure of what she was trying to accomplish had gotten under her skin when she lost in the semifinals of the US Open to Roberta Vinci after winning the first set 6-2. The whole tennis world and casual sport fans were left completely bewildered: “How could she have lost that opportunity to win number twenty-two?”
While Serena did go on to win major number twenty-two at Wimbledon in 2016 and major number twenty-three at the 2017 Australian Open, she has shown us that she is not handling the pressure.
Pressure, No Longer A Privilege
These are the opportunities that she has missed to be the dominant leader in major titles won: 2016, she lost the opportunity to claim both the Australian Open and the French Open titles (2); in 2018, she lost both opportunities to claim Wimbledon and the US Open (2); and yesterday, she lost another opportunity to win Wimbledon (1).
That is five (5) major titles that pressure prevented Serena Williams from winning and yesterday’s loss was the worse loss of them all (2-6, 2-6 in fifty-six minutes), showing that the negative effect of pressure is getting worse.
As great as Serena is, she cannot stop the passage of time and there is no guarantee given her age (37 years, turning 38 in September) and her recent injury issues, that she will get back to another major final.
This is the advice that I would recommend: read this book, PERFORMING UNDER PRESSURE-The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most by Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry as well as get help from a competent Sports Psychologist.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Zimbio.com (all are from Getty Images Europe: Serena Williams)