Serena says she can go undefeated
It would just be fabulous and marvelous if Serena could win every match she plays. But.........there is a young lady in the league named Venus that I hope beats her like a rug next time they play - if they play.
Plus - there are others out there gunning for Serena - so we'll just have to wait and see. If Serena falls like Bagdad(sp?) - I think Lindsay or Justine may win it all in SC.
Congrats to Ashley H. I felt last year that she had potential. I mean - she is skinning 'em isn't she?
"WAY TO GO SERENA" "COME ON - LET'S GO" "STAY UNDEFEATED AT LEAST UNTIL THE FO" "YOU CAN DO IT"
Posted on Thu, Apr. 10, 2003
Serena says she can go undefeated
By RON MORRIS
CHARLESTON -- SERENA WILLIAMS SAYS she can become the first player on the WTA Tour to go undefeated for a season.
With such a statement, Serena Williams is:
A. Extremely confident
B. Continuing to distance herself from the WTA field
C. Playing mind games with the other players
D. All of the above
Williams brought the subject to light a week ago after beating Jennifer Capriati to win the NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Fla.
“If I play my best,” she said, “I don’t think anyone can beat me.”
She appeared to play her best for most of last season and through three tournament championships before this week’s Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island. By winning the Australian Open in January, Williams now holds all four grand slam titles. She has won 18 straight matches to open this season, including Wednesday’s second-round win over Dally Randriantefy.
“That’s everyone’s hope, to go undefeated,” says no less of an expert on the subject than Williams’ mother, Oracene, who also happens to be one of her coaches. Mom recognizes that for Williams to win every tournament she plays this season would take a whole lot of luck, “in addition to skill and determination.”
But it’s not impossible, according to other players and coaches.
“I don’t think it’s preposterous,” says Harold Solomon, himself once a player on the ATP circuit and now Anna Kournikova’s coach. “It’s an unbelievable feat to think about somebody doing that, especially on all the different surfaces. But if somebody can do it, it obviously is her.”
Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf have come closest to playing a perfect season. Navratilova lost only one of 87 matches in 1983 and two of 80 the following season. Graf was 86-2 in 1989 and 75-2 in 1987.
To a person, the belief on the tour is that the competition is much different than when Navratilova and Graf dominated. Rafael Font de More, a longtime WTA coach who now tutors 19th-ranked Meghann Shaughnessy, says there were between 10 and 12 top-level players during the Navratilova and Graf runs. Today, he says, there are 25-30 players who can knock off a top seed in a given tournament.
“The people who dominated before, they normally had early matches that were not as tough,” says 31-year-old Amanda Coetzer, the 10th-seeded player this weekend, who needed nearly 2½ hours to win her first-round match against an unseeded player in Monday’s opening round. “Now, early on, there always are tough matches, even for the top players. That, I think, is making it more difficult.
“That also wears on you. It makes the year longer.”
Williams can pick and choose the tournaments in which she plays, and that could be a determining factor in how long she stretches her season-opening win streak. To qualify for the seasonlong championship that she won in 1999 and 2002, Williams must compete in a minimum of 17 events. She is likely to play somewhere between 20 and 25 tournaments, including the three remaining Grand Slams.
Total concentration is the key to winning out, Williams says.
“It would take a lot of work mentally,” she says. “You’d have to go into every match and be so focused. Mentally, you have to say, ‘I want to be here and I want to win,’ more than anything.
“Sometimes when I played tournaments last year I said to myself, ‘I want to win, but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world.’ I think to go undefeated you have to be really, really tough and fight extremely hard. I think that will be tough for me because I always like to do other things.”
Remaining healthy for an entire season probably is a much more realistic goal than going undefeated. Already, she complained of a stomach illness in her first-round match at Key Biscayne.
Avoiding clay courts also would enhance her chances of winning every tournament. And every tournament, from this week’s in Charleston to the French Open at the end of May, is played on a clay surface. From there until the season-ending championships in November, Williams can avoid clay courts and play primarily on hard courts.
Clay surfaces are the great equalizer to someone with Williams’ power game. Mostly, the surfaces slow Williams’ monster serves, which can top 100 mph. Those surfaces also make her ground strokes somewhat less daunting.
“With the surface taking away some of the speed on the court, then I think there are other players who can really challenge her,” Font de More says. “I think clay is where she is most vulnerable.”
Also helping Williams’ cause is the suspicion on tour that her sister, Venus, has lost some of her edge. Venus will drop to No. 3 in the world rankings following this weekend’s tournaments, and a slip farther down the tennis ladder would not be surprising.
No. 3-ranked Kim Clijsters and fourth-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne now appear to be Serena’s chief challengers on clay courts. But even they face a psychological barrier in head-to-head competition with the best in the world, someone whose swagger is such that she can boast of being unbeatable.
Font de More says that if a male player was that kind of braggart on the ATP tour, he would immediately subject himself to intense competition.
Not so on the women’s tour.
When asked early in the week for a reaction to any thought of Williams going unbeaten for an entire season, Coetzer’s initial response was: “I would be the first one to support it, to go for it. That really would be something.”
Can Serena Williams, who is 18-0 this season, go undefeated? Here’s a look at the best seasons among women’s tennis players:
Player Year W-L Pct.
Martina Navratilova 1983 86-1 .989
Steffi Graf 1989 86-2 .977
Martina Navratilova 1984 78-2 .975
Steffi Graf 1987 75-2 .974
Martina Navratilova 1982 90-3 .968
Martina Navratilova 1986 89-3 .967
Steffi Graf 1988 72-3 .960
Margaret Smith Court 1973 102-5 .953
Chris Evert 1978 56-3 .949
Margaret Smith Court 1970 109-6 .948
Serena Williams 2002 56-5 .919