FRENCH OPEN: Serena Williams Crumbles, Cries. Who is This, Anyway?

Serena Williams doesn’t crumble. She intimidates, she bullies, she rages. But she doesn’t act the way she did Tuesday in the first round of the French Open. After choking away the second set against a no-name player ranked out of the top 100, Williams sat on her chair before the final set and started sobbing.

Right there in the middle of the match. Williams was crying. She covered her face with a towel. She grabbed tissue and blew her nose.

Who was that, anyway? Williams went on to lose a three-hour match, a marathon where guts usually wins. Williams, two points from winning, went on to lose to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

In the 47th major championship of her career, Williams had lost in the first round for just the first time. It was also just the fourth time she had lost to a player out of the top 100.

“Yeah, it is disappointing, but it’s life,’’ Williams said. “Things could be a lot worse. I haven’t had the easiest past six months. Nothing I can’t deal with.’’

Perspective. In the past two years, Williams suffered with life-threatening blood clots in her lungs, and, she said, she also stepped on broken glass in a restaurant, leading to foot surgery.

So, yes, losing a tennis match isn’t the worst thing in the world. But Williams said she had to look back, figure out what she did wrong Tuesday and make sure it doesn’t happen again. It sounded like a simple mathematical formula. Maybe it is. Maybe it was just one bad day. But it looked just too different, too inexplicable. It looked like the start of Williams getting old.

Please read the rest of the column at

About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 110 other followers

%d bloggers like this: