US Open 2016: Serena Williams upset by Karolina Pliskova

 In Competition, Tennis, Winning & Losing

Thursday Women’s Semifinal 

Thursday was a tough day for Serena Williams. Not only did she lose to Karolina Pliskova in the semifinals but she also lost her #1 ranking and has to wait to become the first player in the Open Era to win 23 majors. Williams is currently tied with Steffi Graf on 22. That’s a lot of loss in 1-day. So what happened and how will Serena come back from this?

Serena had come off her 2:14 marathon against Simona Halep just 22 and a half hours before her match with Karolina, and once again, fans had to sit through one of her passive starts. In just 26 minutes, she’d dropped the first set 6-2. What a shock!

But if nothing else, the world knows Serena is a fierce battler. A Nike ad campaign has been calling her the world’s best athlete. Tennis sages say she’s mentally the toughest in the game, and, incredibly, she has a winning record even after losing the first set.

Having lost the first set, Serena made changes in the second set. She cut down on her errors. Her served improved. She seemed less sluggish. Still Pliskova unleashed a running forehand to score a break to go up 3-2. But Serena promptly broke back at love to even the set, which eventually went to a tiebreak (Inside Tennis).

What happened?

Afterwards Serena said she had been having knee problems and it distracted her from making shots. It was thought that because she had just played a long quarterfinal 22.5 hours earlier that maybe she was fatigued. Serena said, “Yeah, I have been having some serious left knee problems,” said Williams. “I wasn’t tired. Fatigue had absolutely nothing to do with it. If I was tired I should definitely get into a new career.“I wasn’t able to move the way I wanted to move. When you’re injured you’re thinking of other things when you should be just playing and thinking of your shots. My mind was just a little bit everywhere. But it was what it was (CNN).”

Serving impeccably through the quarters, Williams, meanwhile, slumped to five aces and six double faults. Williams had averaged 12 aces per match in the tournament prior to the last four and struck 18 against Halep. Williams, too, committed 31 unforced errors, erring on routine looking forehands and second serve returns.

Williams didn’t want to talk about losing the No. 1 ranking but if she wants it back, she will be buoyed by knowing she has no points to defend until the season concludes (CNN).

How does Serena come back from this?

As Serena said, “it was what it was”. How does she deal with it to regain her status and attain her goal of 23 majors? Serena has had a history of repeatedly overcoming slow starts and setbacks. They have only made her more confident and more dangerous.

“The thing you notice about Serena is she’s so demonstrative about it,” said Billie Jean King, winner of 12 Grand Slam singles titles and 39 major titles overall. “Her body language is so strong. … Serena is not subtle. She’s very dramatic. She hates to lose. I think she hates to lose as much as anybody, which is why she’s so great.”

King said it’s Williams’ serve, arguably the biggest weapon in all of tennis, that most often allows her to “storm back into matches.”

“Other players don’t have that gift,” King said. “She’ll be behind and she can serve two or three aces in a row. It’s very uplifting when you can do that — they’re free points. That lifts you — mentally, emotionally — now you can go up another level again. You can breathe (ESPNW).”

Clearly Serena has the grit to endure but what do you think she needs to do mentally to come back even stronger next year?

Article credits:
CNNInside TennisESPN

Dr. Michelle Cleere
In her own private practice as an elite performance expert, Dr. Michelle Cleere helps top athletes, musicians, and executives in competitive fields unlock the power of the mind and create the mental toughness to be the best. Dr. Michelle’s extensive academic background, which includes a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Sports Psychology, allows her to help clients deal with performance anxiety, gain more confidence, and build resilience. In addition to personal coaching, Dr. Michelle takes on many roles – a best-selling author, athlete, and teacher. Dr. Michelle’s bestseller line, Beating the Demons, helps clients develop practical skills to gain more control over competitive environments and mitigate the interruption in play to overcome intense odds and defeat adversity. As a 15-year USAT Coach, she developed simple and effective tools to mentally train her athletes, and they are used by coaches around the world. She is a professor at John F. Kennedy University where she teacher her students to use the mind as an ally to improve performance.
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