Charlston doesn't say much about "clay" really.It's almost "hardcourt"
clay is sarin's "worst" surface there's no doubt about that,but it's on sarin's own standard.
First,Sarin's BH on clay is not as effective as on other surface as she doesn't hit closed-stance,so she often comes one step short and can't hit through the BH
Second, her footwork overall is sometimes "sluggish" on clay.
Clay reduces the power on her serve,but Sarin also should bear in mind that it makes others serve slower,too.So ROS would a be equal important for Sarin on clay.In 09' 10' FO losses,She was aweful on return and should've done better.
Shale, stone, brick...
It's all still clay.
How else would we define the surface?
When you look up clay tournaments, they don't say, "but this isn't real clay".
And sure, we as fans understand that there are in fact differences in the characteristics (slow, fast, or somewhere in-between).
However, a clay court is still a clay court.
However, in a sense, you make my point in that certain types of clay surfaces play well into Serena's style/game.
Whereas, she has to completely change her style of play on the slow red clay.
Still, she's won at the highest level on it with her serve and baseline game (FO 2002).
And to get there she defeated some formidable opponents.
I agree that her (service) pace on "red clay" is significantly affected, but her placement isn't (on both serve and returns).
Also, I noticed Serena returning closer to the opponents baseline in more of her matches, pushing them further back each time.
I have to believe that this gives her more time set up for a volley, or reduce the opponent's pace on return.
She never did that before, unless I've been missing it all these years.
I know I'm alone on this, and maybe I'm well off the mark.
But I'll keep an even closer eye on this in the coming days and throughout the FO.