Serena feels need for more matches

PARIS • Desperately short of match fitness, Serena Williams is considering a rare appearance at one of the Wimbledon tune-up events.

The former world No. 1 has hardly played this year because of injuries and now has an extra week after crashing out in the third round of the French Open 6-2, 7-5 to fellow American Sofia Kenin on Saturday.

It was the 37-year-old's earliest exit at the majors in five years, leading to more questions over not only her bid to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, but also her long-term future at the highest level.

Despite reaching the final at last year's Wimbledon and US Open, Williams has struggled with her form since returning from maternity leave, with her last win on the WTA Tour coming at the 2017 Australia Open when she was pregnant with her daughter Alexis Olympia.

This year, she has been unable to finish the three tournaments she entered since bowing out in the quarter-finals in Melbourne - playing only seven matches and pulling out of Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

If I was told I would make only the third round here, I would have thought they were lying because I wouldn't expect to have gotten only to the third round.

SERENA WILLIAMS, after losing in the third round of the French Open to fellow American Sofia Kenin.

However, Williams remains determined to return to the peak of her powers and, with seven Wimbledon titles, she remains one of the favourites at the grass-court tournament, which starts on July 1.

Admitting she was still "pretty far away" from hitting her stride, the 23-time Grand Slam winner, who usually does not play in events ahead of the grass-court climax, said: "I'm definitely feeling short on matches, and just getting in the swing of things.

"I don't really like playing out points when I practise.

"I have some time on my hands, so maybe I'll jump in and get a wildcard on one of these grass-court events and see what happens. The optimistic part is I haven't been able to be on the court as much as I would have."

Of her loss to Kenin, Williams, who had only one match on clay before Roland Garros, insisted she had no regrets over her participation, adding: "I am glad I came. I love the city, and I love the tournament. I really wanted to be here.

"So I'm glad I came, at the end of the day. It's just been a really gruelling season for me.

"If I was told I would make only the third round here, I would have thought they were lying because I wouldn't expect to have gotten only to the third round."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2019, with the headline 'Serena feels need for more matches'. Print Edition | Subscribe