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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2008, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

A lot of folks have been talking about Serena's lack of mobility as the cause of her failures. I'm a huge Serena fan and support her in all her matches---almost. Against Venus, I think it's natural for a spectators to root for the better athlete. Watching the two together on screen, it's quite obvious that Venus today is simply a tier above Serena. She's really far behind the best mover in women's tennis, which doesn't help her confidence that much.
This being said, even with minimum mobility, a la Mary, i don't think she needs to play first-strike tennis (after the big serve) all the time. Mary, in 2005, moved brilliantly, if that makes sense. She covered the court well (playing just enough defense, albeit rarely) and she always set herself up to hit her strokes. It really was the work she did on her conditioning and making sure her feet were dancing throughout a point that got her to 2 slam finals.

Serena, on the other hand, makes me hold my breath whenever reaching for a shot, or just having to take more than 3 steps. Getting Serena out of position was the Justine's tactic (as well as simply serving hard down the T, and hitting an aggressive 2nd shot). During the rally with Venus, and really since Miami 2007, Serena can't hold her own if she's not hugging the baseline.

Interestingly enough, I think Serena is exactly where she wants to be right now (strong serve, lethal returns), and the final aspect that remains to be resolved are her strokes. Her strokes won't improve unless she's light on her feet, even if she's overweight. Also, by overweight, I don't want to say she's fat, but that there's ONLY 5-10pounds that are holding her back. If she does seriousley work out her legs--mostly her thights and ass (I don't buy the genetics argument--the size of her legs, muscle mass and fat, CAN BE CONTROLLED)I'm convinced she'll be moving like the wind.

She may not move like Venus, but at least she can move like Mary Pierce. Before people knock Mary's movement, there's a video on Youtube that highlight's Mary's footwork in 2005. Mary wans't the best mover, but she definitely improved her fitness. Serena doesn't need to play incredible defense, but just the minimum. Staying in rallies is the key.
Today, getting Serena into a rally is the only hope her opponents have--which explains her 4 losses this year. If she can just hold her own in the coming months, then I don't see anyone, not even Venus, denying her a gold medal and the USOPEN.

Well, just some thoughts...what do u think guys n gals?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2008, 02:03 PM
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

Well since the wimbeldon final, posters on this board have been going on and on about Serena's poor fitness, and lack of mobility which they believe to be the main reason why Serena has not yet captured a slam this year. While I do feel there may be some truth to this, I don't believe this is the main reason. Serena in that match against Venus, despite not being as quick as Venus, still held several break chances, and was at a point in the first set to go up 5-2. Even when not moving well, she was still winning some of the basline rallies and returning Venus's first serves. More than anything else, in the majors Serena simply has not been able to play the big points well, and often falls apart mentally, letting her opponent off the hook. In Miami this year against Justine, Serena in most of the baseline rallies was finally dictating play, hitting the ball with authority, creating angles, and even playing solid defense, it wasn't until the finals against Jankovic that she began to unfold as she was closing out the match, losing her focus and getting too emotional. I don't believe that Serena needs to be in her 2002 shape to win against the top players. I think it's more about her being able to maintain focus, and a high level through an entire match instead of becoming too passive when her opponent begins to play well. Serena this year has played the best tennis, its been her lack of composure in slams that loses her matches. Even with better mobility she still will struggle unless she can contain her emotions.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2008, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

I see your point. She's not as emotionally solid as she may have been back in the day. But yet, she still amnaged to win Miami, Banglalore, and Charleston, and has a good season thus far. I was wondering what's holding her back. Can it all be just mental? And isn't that related to her fitness?

I'm sure she's be more confident knowing she could hang in with the best strikers of the ball, but I just don't see her going from a defensive postion to an offensive one. The top players, and certainly Venus, can do that. I also can't imagine her winning a major without having to play solid defense.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2008, 07:02 PM
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

In my opinion Serena has great footspeed, even though she is slightly overweight I would still put her in the top five movers on the tour. However, great footspeed does not equate to great footwork.

You compared her to Mary in 2005 and you are totally correct. The only reason Mary did so well in 2005 was because she improved her footwork and she did this by getting fitter but by also making sure that she was constantly moving her feet during rallies and getting into great positions to get a good strike on the ball. Mary's tennis and ball striking capabilities were always there between 2001-2004 but the footwork just wasn't and without great footwork there really is no chance of winning against the best players.

To me Serena right now looks lazy when setting up for a ball and seems to be always reaching for the ball, which in turn is the main cause for the amount of unforced errors that infect her game at present. That being said, she was only just beaten in a great final, so with a little bit of tweaking here or there she should be on her way to the US Open title.

As for Mary, as soon she's finished her cardio training she'll be back to her 2005 best! Woo-hoo!

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2008, 08:28 PM
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

I've always thought that Serena was lazier with her footwork than she should be. Even when she was "in shape," she would always reach for balls and try to muscle it over instead of taking the necessary steps to set up and hit it. She can still move well. She didn't move well against Venus, but I think it was because she was feeling something in her left hammy. She had some precautionary taping on it in their semifinal doubles match, and though she didn't talk about it I think she might have felt a little tightness in it. But she's still in much better shape than she was last year. I think she's going to have a great summer. She's healthy and has a lot of motivation to do well. And she has no points to defend, so her ranking will skyrocket by simply playing. It's going to be a fun summer!!!

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2008, 09:13 PM
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

it's doesn't compare...

serena is>>>>>
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2008, 10:00 PM
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

Hmmm...come on, not even this Serena is as slow as Mary. Serena's problem is mental..and specially in the majors. In all her losses this year she's had chances to turn the result around..just hasn't been able to hold it together on the big points yet.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2008, 10:12 PM
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

Bar 2005/06, i feel Serena's footspeed hasnt diminished at all. Just that footwork can come and go. She never makes smooth transitions with her feet and goes for more 'stampy' steps than precise soft steps. She can get away with it though because she anticipates the ball so well. I always feel that's a very underated part of Serena's game, her court-craft in antuicipating and tracking down balls is superb for the most part.

If you look at the Wimby final, Venus had the better footwork and was always making adjustments around the ball. Serena seems content to muscle the ball from awkward positions, but to her credit she has the athletic ability to that, which explains why she's generally a better returner than Venus, because she can turn awkward movements into winners.

In regards to Pierce, she massively improved both her footspeed and footwork in 2005. If you look at Pierce in say 2000/04, when she was put in a defensive position she would often just concede the point really with a defensive moonball shot, because she never had the recovery steps with her footwork. In 2005 however, she would take smaller steps and didnt look so off balance on the run. It enabled her to stay in the points longer and that's what made her top 5 again.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2008, 01:01 AM
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by bandabou View Post
Hmmm...come on, not even this Serena is as slow as Mary. Serena's problem is mental..and specially in the majors. In all her losses this year she's had chances to turn the result around..just hasn't been able to hold it together on the big points yet.
Its not about speed. Yes Serena is fast, much faster than Mary ever was, but Serena's footwork to actually get in position for her shots is lazy which causes a large number of her errors and this is what requires attention and this is what Mary improved in 2005 to be in championship form again, hence the quite plausible comparison.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2008, 01:35 AM
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

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Originally Posted by dl05 View Post
Bar 2005/06, i feel Serena's footspeed hasnt diminished at all. Just that footwork can come and go. She never makes smooth transitions with her feet and goes for more 'stampy' steps than precise soft steps. She can get away with it though because she anticipates the ball so well. I always feel that's a very underated part of Serena's game, her court-craft in antuicipating and tracking down balls is superb for the most part.

If you look at the Wimby final, Venus had the better footwork and was always making adjustments around the ball. Serena seems content to muscle the ball from awkward positions, but to her credit she has the athletic ability to that, which explains why she's generally a better returner than Venus, because she can turn awkward movements into winners.

In regards to Pierce, she massively improved both her footspeed and footwork in 2005. If you look at Pierce in say 2000/04, when she was put in a defensive position she would often just concede the point really with a defensive moonball shot, because she never had the recovery steps with her footwork. In 2005 however, she would take smaller steps and didnt look so off balance on the run. It enabled her to stay in the points longer and that's what made her top 5 again.
Serena is def. slower now than she was in 2004 or earlier. She's lost like 2 steps imo. It's just so much easier to get her out of position and it doesn't help that she at times can be very passive off the ground. But i still believe she can get to be at least as fast as she was in 2004 where she was maybe a step slower than in her peak.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2008, 08:19 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Serena and Mary Pierce, just some thoughts

"Bar 2005/06, i feel Serena's footspeed hasnt diminished at all. Just that footwork can come and go. She never makes smooth transitions with her feet and goes for more 'stampy' steps than precise soft steps. She can get away with it though because she anticipates the ball so well. I always feel that's a very underated part of Serena's game, her court-craft in antuicipating and tracking down balls is superb for the most part."


--Can footwork come and go? And if so, perhaps it's a psychological thing. During the AO07, I think Serena moved exceptionally well, hugged the baseling, and set up well to hit her penetrating shots. That was before the final, when Serena actually had to play rallies She was awesome then.
Nowadays, she seems off balance, not having her feet planted, and goes into spells of hitting with topspin. I'm convinced that if her footworks there, then she can really hit the ball flatter. Otherwise, her forehand shots will just sit up, as they have during her losses.
I'm also positive, knowing that she's got nothing to defend, and that if she finally gets a top ranking (top 4), she can play less tournaments (I know, I know, but for Serena, she's got a heavy schedule this year) and have the comfort of working on her body a little more. Someone spoke about having to balance off-court training (all those annoying technical aspects of the game) and being match tough. Serena's match tough this year, but not automatically a contender.
She hasn't won any of the big titles, so it's hard for em to consider her a contender, although i hope she wins any tournaments she's entered in.
Otherwise, I think she's on he right path, more so now than ever before. Her (upper) body looks great, and she needs to take the next step (toning up her legs and backside) to be a world-class athlete. I think that's why we're in such awe of Venus. Hopefully lil sis can get some motivation...
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