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spiceboy
Sep 30th, 2006, 12:57 AM
http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=showarticle&newsid=16017&bannerregion=

Williams Sisters Need Game Plan To Get Back To Top 10


By Paul E. Farrow
09/29/2006

I work with a few guys who are sports nuts. They talk sports every day and know certain facts and figures that would lead one to believe they are truly knowledgeable in all the sports they discuss.

Many of these guys, upon learning Serena Williams entered the 2006 U.S. Open, began predicting she would win the women's championship based on the fact she has won a career Grand Slam and has two U.S. Open titles to her credit.

I have been around tennis for over 40 years now as both player and coach and I have witnessed many cases of how players not only lose their edge, but lose their motivation as well in relatively rapid fashion. Even with extensive success in the past, it still takes a special type of champion to come back to tennis after a layoff and not only be competitive, but regain their championship status. Tennis is a skill sport that demands your complete dedication and you simply cannot turn it on and off whenever you please not if you want to win a Grand Slam title.

Having watched the Williams sisters develop as players and grow into champions over the years, I believe both Venus and Serena are truly talented players, but I do not think either of them will ever win another Grand Slam title. Don't misunderstand me: both Williams sisters still have the skills to reach No. 1 in the world, and I don't think their injuries are the primary reasons for their decline.

There is no doubt in my mind Venus and Serena are still the best athletes in the women's game today, but they lack two basic elements that are vital to winning in this sport: strategy and consistency!

Serena did not lose her fourth-round U.S. Open match to a better player; Serena lost to a smarter player. When Amelie Mauresmo beat Serena, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 at the Open, Serena committed 31 unforced errors compared to 25 for Mauresmo. Unforced errors have always killed the Williams sisters, yet despite their unforced errors, both sisters have won Grand Slam titles. Serena owns a career Grand Slam, which puts her in a very elite group of great champions.

There's no denying both sisters have been dominant players in the past, but ask either one of them before a match about their strategy and they usually say: "I'm going to go play my game and see what happens."

In addition to committing unforced errors, strategy or more accurately the lack of strategy is another area where Serena has a major problem. Typical Williams game plan: hit crosscourt, hit down the line, then crosscourt, then down the line and then go for a winner either crosscourt or down the line.

Don't misunderstand me: I like and respect the Williams sisters as players and I respect their accomplishments in tennis, but it pains me so much to sit and watch them make the same mistakes over and over and over in so many of their matches. And what hurts the most is they really don't have a clue as to what it is they need to do in order to turn their games around.

Playing the same old bang, bang, bang away style is not going to win too often against a Justine Henin-Hardenne, who is going to slice her backhand and keep the ball low so the Williams sisters can't hit their big groundstrokes or against Amelie Mauresmo, who can run down the big shot, slice the ball back and move into net where she can volley. And then there is Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova, who can take their hard-hit groundstrokes and hit it back at the same speed or even harder.

So having said all that, how should Serena have played her U.S. Open fourth round match against Mauresmo?

Two words: pressure tennis.

Hit your big serve, to set up the short ball, hit a smart, controlled approach shot and go to the net. Serena should have taken Mauresmo's comfort zone away from her. Even in the early rounds, she should have played more attacking tennis. By attacking tennis, I don't mean blast balls from the baseline and run to net, I mean strategically place your approach shots. If Serena had Lisa Raymond's net game, I believe she would have reached the U.S. Open final.

As for the future of the Williams sisters, I am sad to say I believe both are nearing the end of their careers as top players.

In its current issue, Tennis Magazine has a feature story on the workout Serena does to stay in shape, but nowhere does she discuss the inner game of tennis and that's where she needs the most work.

The bottom line is the Williams sisters need a coach. If some of the greatest players in history including Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert all had coaches, then it stands to reason the Williams sisters need a coach too.

Mom and dad just don't have the experience or expertise to get them back to where they should be: to the top of tennis and they should stop trying to present themselves as coaches because as you watch the Williams sisters matches, you ask yourself: "why is she doing that over and over?"

The Williams sisters need training good old fashioned training from a coach who knows what the hell he or she is doing. Until they seriously train, develop a mental game, play with a purpose and strategy, seeing the Williams sisters lose in the early rounds of major tournaments will be the norm rather than the exception.

Paul E. Farrow trained under the late Dr. Robert Johnson, Arthur Ashe's coach, and played tournament tennis in the days when the USTA was known as the USTLA and the association was slowly permitting blacks to enter junior tournaments. Farrow has played against Jimmy Connors, Eddie Dibbs, Harold Solomon and many other nationally-ranked juniors. He is currently a USPTA-certified tennis instructor who resides in Georgia.

tennisbear7
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:02 AM
:yawn:

supergrunt
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:10 AM
the lack consistency and strategy? then how did they win the grnad slams that they have now. :yawn: Sometimes I think people just make these topics just to be proven wrong. :lol:

supergrunt
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:22 AM
Really though I think that the haters are loving this. Venus and Serena are out of the top ten and not winning the grand slams like they used to. :rolleyes:

Dominic
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:23 AM
the lack consistency and strategy? then how did they win the grnad slams that they have now. :yawn: Sometimes I think people just make these topics just to be proven wrong. :lol:
I like both williams sisters but I know they havent won thair grandslams with consistency and strategy. They have won them with ballbashig and athleticism.

supergrunt
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:26 AM
I like both williams sisters but I know they havent won thair grandslams with consistency and strategy. They have won them with ballbashig and athleticism.
So they just go onto the court without a dtrategy? :confused: :rolleyes: I don't think that too many proffestionals do that. I really wouldn't call what Serena does ball-bashing anyway. Only people who really don't know tennis call Serena's game ball-bashing. :o

olivia100
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:53 AM
Wonder how come Lisa Raymond hasn't won a GS :lol: :lol: You just have to laugh at these people.

LH2HBH
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:55 AM
WELL - I am sure we all remember that they did not do it with consistency and strategy. :rolleyes:

Saying they did it with power and athleticism and perhaps even with 'flare' would be more accurate.

Jaffas85
Sep 30th, 2006, 03:05 AM
I deffinitely agree about the sisters not being consistent because after Venus won Wimbledon in 2005 she showed that she was truly capable of climbing her way back to #1 in the world but then things once again gradually deteriorated after that tournament with more injuries and off court interests.

Both Serena and Venus could easily get back into the Top 5 were they truly committed to tennis and getting back to the top of the tennis world. After Agassi fell to #140 in 1997 he solely dedicated himself to tennis mentally and physically which was why he was able to make it back to #1 and win more grand slams. Even Martina Hingis is an impressive example as she was away for a few years then came back extremely dedicated to tennis, and what she had to do to be her best, and she's made it to #8 in the world and the year isn't even over yet.

The ball is entirely within Serena and Venus' court on whether or not they can climb back to the top.

Mother_Marjorie
Sep 30th, 2006, 06:12 AM
It really doesn't matter whether or not they have the potential to get back into the Top 10. Both women had the potential to thoroughly dominate the WTA for years and did not. That in itself told me that their careers might not have longevity because of the chronic injuries and off-court distractions.

If anything, its proven that you really can't be a jack-of-all-trades in the sport of tennis, because it takes single-minded dedication that will either propel you into tennis history among the greats, or you will leave the sport with a mediocre career.

I'm curious to see how Maria's career pans out over the years, because she seems to be doing a great job juggling both tennis and her outside interests for now. She'll likely be dominating during the period as the sisters begin fading away from the sport. And unlike Kournikova, Maria actually has substance to her tennis career.

spencercarlos
Sep 30th, 2006, 06:19 AM
It really doesn't matter whether or not they have the potential to get back into the Top 10. Both women had the potential to thoroughly dominate the WTA for years and did not. That in itself told me that their careers might not have longevity because of the chronic injuries and off-court distractions.

If anything, its proven that you really can't be a jack-of-all-trades in the sport of tennis, because it takes single-minded dedication that will either propel you into tennis history among the greats, or you will leave the sport with a mediocre career.

I'm curious to see how Maria's career pans out over the years, because she seems to be doing a great job juggling both tennis and her outside interests for now. She'll likely be dominating during the period as the sisters begin fading away from the sport. And unlike Kournikova, Maria actually has substance to her tennis career.
I agree pretty much with you, except with having a "mediocre" carreer part, because the Williams sisters, each of them already have had a great carreer IMO.
Sure there will be always the question about how much they could/should/may have won if being into the sport 100%, but that does not make them "mediocre" at all, because of their achievements in tennis are not.

VeeReeDavJCap81
Sep 30th, 2006, 06:54 AM
I like both williams sisters but I know they havent won thair grandslams with consistency and strategy. They have won them with ballbashig and athleticism.

You really sound like someone who knows what they're talking about :rolleyes:

Brooklyn90
Sep 30th, 2006, 06:57 AM
You really sound like someone who knows what they're talking about :rolleyes:
:lol:

dreamgoddess099
Sep 30th, 2006, 09:28 AM
I love these kinds of articles. They always predict the opposite of what actually ends up happening the following year. :lol: Amazing that he totally managed to miss the fact that Venus and Serena have been so injured this year that they have only played a combined total of 9 tournaments. It's hard to play too well when you've only played four and five tournaments all year.

Justine Fan
Sep 30th, 2006, 09:37 AM
I love these kinds of articles. They always predict the opposite of what actually ends up happening the following year. :lol: Amazing that he totally managed to miss the fact that Venus and Serena have been so injured this year that they have only played a combined total of 9 tournaments. It's hard to play too well when you've only played four and five tournaments all year.

Not necessarily. In 2005. Justine and Kim came back on the tour after being absent from the tour for almost 9 months (maybe longer) with injury and on their 2nd tournament back they started winning all the tourneys didn't they? Didn't Justine win all the clay tournaments that she played and Kim win IW and Miami? Admittedly they both lost their 1st tournament back, but after that they were winning from there on.

So you saying that "It's hard to play too well when you've only played four and five tournaments all year" is not really true because Justine and Kim did it after only playing one tournament! :shrug:

So it is possible isn't it?

dreamgoddess099
Sep 30th, 2006, 10:00 AM
Not necessarily. In 2005. Justine and Kim came back on the tour after being absent from the tour for almost 9 months (maybe longer) with injury and on their 2nd tournament back they started winning all the tourneys didn't they? Didn't Justine win all the clay tournaments that she played and Kim win IW and Miami? Admittedly they both lost their 1st tournament back, but after that they were winning from there on.

So you saying that "It's hard to play too well when you've only played four and five tournaments all year" is not really true because Justine and Kim did it after only playing one tournament! :shrug:

So it is possible isn't it?First of all, Kim played 17 tournament in 2005. The question isn't whether it's possibe because in 2003 Serena played 8 tournaments, won 5, made the finals of 6, and made the semis of all, so I already knew it was possible. That was never questioned. The fact still remains that it's hard to do.

Justine Fan
Sep 30th, 2006, 10:06 AM
The question isn't whether it's possibe because in 2003 Serena played 8 tournaments, won 5, made the finals of 6, and made the semis of all, so I already knew it was possible. That was never questioned. The fact still remains that it's hard to do.

Yes it is hard to do, but surely if anyone should do it or could do it, it's Serena and Venus! That's what I'm saying, if Justine and Kim could do it, why can't Serena and Venus do it? :shrug:

Edit: I notice you added that Kim played 17 tournaments. What has that got to do with what we are talking about? :confused:

I am stating that they both started winning tournaments immediately (bar their first tournament) on their comeback after a long time out! So what has the amount of tournaments got to do with it? :shrug: That was later. I am talking about the beginning.

dreamgoddess099
Sep 30th, 2006, 10:11 AM
Yes it is hard to do, but surely if anyone should do it or could do it, it's Serena and Venus! That's what I'm saying, if Justine and Kim could do it, why can't Serena and Venus do it? :shrug:
Venus and Serena have done it, that's not the point. There is a difference in probable and possible. As circumstances change so does probability. Doing something just proves it can be done, not that is always will be. People aren't robots.

hingis-seles
Sep 30th, 2006, 10:20 AM
Not necessarily. In 2005. Justine and Kim came back on the tour after being absent from the tour for almost 9 months (maybe longer) with injury and on their 2nd tournament back they started winning all the tourneys didn't they? Didn't Justine win all the clay tournaments that she played and Kim win IW and Miami? Admittedly they both lost their 1st tournament back, but after that they were winning from there on.

So you saying that "It's hard to play too well when you've only played four and five tournaments all year" is not really true because Justine and Kim did it after only playing one tournament! :shrug:

So it is possible isn't it?

Monica Seles won her first tournament back after a 27-month layoff, and broke the record for fewest number of games dropped. But, then again, there's a reason why hardly anyone rivals the greatness of Monica Seles. :worship:

dreamgoddess099
Sep 30th, 2006, 10:23 AM
Edit: I notice you added that Kim played 17 tournaments. What has that got to do with what we are talking about? :confused:
You said Kim started winning all the tournaments, she lost the first, won the next 2, then lost the next three. She started winning more consistantly after she played more tournaments.

I am stating that they both started winning tournaments immediately (bar their first tournament)Immediately includes the first tournament. Serena won her first tournament back after nine months, so again it's not a question of possibility.

Justine Fan
Sep 30th, 2006, 10:25 AM
Monica Seles won her first tournament back after a 27-month layoff, and broke the record for fewest number of games dropped. But, then again, there's a reason why hardly anyone rivals the greatness of Monica Seles. :worship:

I know, I remember crying when she won it!!!! :worship: :worship:

This is what I'm saying ... it can be done and surely Venus and Serena should have done it on their recent various comebacks. After all, we are reminded on this board nearly every day that they are the greatest. Williams fans words, not mine :D

Justine Fan
Sep 30th, 2006, 10:28 AM
You said Kim started winning all the tournaments, she lost the first, won the next 2, then lost the next three. She started winning more consistantly after she played more tournaments.

I did say that she lost the first, but at least she won the next 2!! Unlike Serena or Venus recently!

Immediately includes the first tournament. Serena won her first tournament back after nine months, so again it's not a question of possibility.
Good for her! I'm talking about the last couple of years.

dreamgoddess099
Sep 30th, 2006, 12:10 PM
I did say that she lost the first, but at least she won the next 2!! Unlike Serena or Venus recently!Serena's won every slam, not to mention 3 of the 4 slams twice, unlike Justine. But what does that have to do with price of beans in Chile? Nothing, you sure know how to get completely off topic and argue about something that had nothing to do with what anybody said. You still refuse to admit that nobody said it was impossible to win tournaments on a limited amount of tournaments. That would be stupid to say anyway since Serena's entire career has been limited tournament play and she still has 7 slams.

Good for her! I'm talking about the last couple of years.
It was in that last couple of years. This is 2006, a couple (meaning two) years ago it was 2004. Anyway, what does it matter when it was done, better two years ago than never.

Kart
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:14 PM
I kind of agree with the title of this thread although maybe not all the substance of the article.

I credit Venus and Serena with a lot of intelligence though, I'm sure they have thought about what they need to do to get back to the top and how they plan to do it.