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Monday, August 15, 2022

Serena Williams, beat to beat

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At nine thirty at night UK time, fans rub their eyes, put their hands on their heads and ponder as they evacuate through the vomits of Center Court: could this be Serena Williams’ last save for Cathedral?

The 40-year-old American has just lost to Harmony Tan from France (7:5, 1:6 and 7:6 (7)) and ended an evening with the scent of farewell. She knows the fuse is exhausted, that the chances of equaling Margaret Court’s historic record of 24 Greats grow ever more distant and the erosion of age and mileage accumulated is more accentuated every day. The North American is taking oxygen and carries the racket bag on his shoulder, processes and tries to allow normality in a stressful situation that repeats itself and speaks of the end of an era.

London, a year later. He left last year injured, with a ruptured hamstring – back of the knee – and with just six games elapsed in the first round. Now the loop continues, but the pain can be greater. The myths of the thug, and she is one of them, usually have a hard time stepping aside unless their name is Bjorn Borg or rare exceptions. Williams rebels, but it’s not enough. He hadn’t acted in a whole year and given what has been seen it seems utopian to think that he can later achieve the Eden he has desired since he premiered Maternity (2017) and put his career on hold.

He was very close, just a step away, but those four finals flew by – two at Wimbledon and another two in New York, the four between 2018 and 2019 – and the coronavirus hiatus squandered much of the credit he still has would have. The clock is ticking and the options are disappearing.

“Yes, it was very hard,” he replies to the moderator who distributes speaking time at Wimbledon. “I had a couple of chances to win the first set, you know, but it didn’t work out, so…” he continues, scanning his eyes at all the journalists awaiting their answers in the conference room at that hour.

– Do you think that could have been your last game here?

– That’s a question I can’t answer. I feel like, you know, I don’t know… Who knows where I’ll be.

Williams says he was feeling good physically, although he thinks another pivot point would have allowed him to have more discussions with his rival about the win. A year ago it was an injury, but this time the cause is purely tennis. On his shirt you can read a message inviting you to change the game (Be the change gamer) and a journalist asks her how she contributed to the development of her sport.

“You just don’t have to be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Yes, I was. I love changing the game. It’s not something I set out to do, but somehow I did. I’m Serena and that’s pretty impressive,” she expresses, before affirming that she has “a lot of motivation” to come to the US Open in good shape and to start frugally.

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Source elpais.com

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