Farewell Serena, thanks for an entertaining few days. We look forward to seeing you in the future.
When World No.79 Madison Brengle beat Serena Williams early last evening, the ASB Classic was brought to its knees. Two of the big names, the Williams sisters, are now booking their flights out of the country.
Prior to Serena’s loss, her older sister Venus was forced to withdraw from the tournament with an injury to her right arm.
The World No.2, Serena, wasn’t nursing any injury however, she was just poor. Some pundits are speculating that Williams’ early exit from the ASB Classic is due to her focus on the Australian Open in Melbourne, the first Grand Slam of the year.
Williams herself blamed the conditions at Stanley Street for her shocking form. In a match that included 88 unforced errors, Williams couldn’t contend with the windy conditions, and it clearly had an impact on all aspects of her usually outstanding standard of tennis.
During the post-match press conference, Williams admitted that winning a game of tennis was next to impossible with such a dismal performance.
I never got in my rhythm, I’ve never returned like that in my life, but I can take solace in the fact that conditions won’t be like this in Melbourne.
Williams labelled the windy conditions in Auckland as “way too much”, but one must question her preparation, given the fact that she had numerous practices in the conditions since arriving in Auckland.
When questions about her preparation were posed, Williams quickly ended the press conference. She didn’t want to talk any further about was the worst game of her career.
I’ve got a number of issues with the things Williams said following her shock loss in the Second Round.
Firstly, Williams is World No.2 in women’s tennis, her pedigree is far better than what showed in Auckland. 88 unforced errors and 5 Set Point opportunities lost is simply not good enough, for any player on the tour, especially Williams who has amassed countless Grand Slam ant WTA titles over her career.
Secondly, her comments to the media which slammed the venue’s conditions could do some serious harm to the future draw of the ASB Classic. Yes, the wind was blustery, but it didn’t appear to hamper the efforts of youngster Naomi Osaka, or even Kiwi wildcard Jade Lewis.
Tennis Auckland has secured 60% of its funding target toward a roof at the venue, but you really got the feeling that Williams won’t be returning to Auckland anytime soon.
For the first time in the tournaments history, tickets for the women’s final was sold out days in advance. Williams was the reason for this, but clearly, and perhaps realistically, the ASB Classic was just a warm up for the Australian Open. Of course, we understand that, and no sports performer is ever perfect, but what we saw from Williams in Auckland was below average.
For an athlete of her pedigree, blustery wind is the weakest excuse for such an early departure.