SERENA Williams showed no trace of disappointment when she faced members of the media following her second-round defeat at the Cincinnati Open the other day. If anything, she took pains to underscore that her comeback from a lengthy absence due to childbirth and pregnancy-related complications is proceeding as well as she can hope it to be. Never mind that her efforts in returning to competitive tennis already appeared to have paid off with a sterling run to the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Final last month. And forget that it was followed by the most lopsided loss of her career in her opener at the Silicon Valley Classic.
Perhaps Williams accepted that her latest tormentor is far from a slouch; in fact, Petra Kvitova has already won five titles this year, best on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour. Perhaps she also saw in the two-time Grand Slam titleholder’s own experience that the road to recovery requires patience. “I’m still at the very beginning,” she contended. “This is a long comeback.” She’s right, of course, and her advanced age — when countless other pros at 36 have difficulty getting up in the morning, let alone getting back to the top — makes the work doubly difficult.
Nonetheless, Williams cannot but be expected to prevail every time she treks to the court regardless of the quality of the opposition. After all, it’s also what she expects of herself, the burdens of child-rearing and family life aside. Which is why, at the United States Open later this month, she figures to do the same old, same old: compete as best she can and carve a path to the championship. As tall an order as it may appear, she believes she’s ready and able; whenever she wields a racket, she wields to win.
In the immediate term, Williams will have to make a decision. Does she sign up for the Connecticut Open next week as a wild-card entry? Or does she come in from the cold at Flushing Meadows? The answer should provide fans a glimpse of her level of confidence heading into the last major stop of the year. As for her level of preparedness, only time can tell.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.