Patrick Mouratoglou: Serena Williams ‘hasn’t been the real Serena’ in last four Grand Slam finals
Serena Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, admits they need to adapt to the new challenges that the 23-time Grand Slam winner is facing, but insists that we didn’t see the best of the American in her most recent four Grand Slam finals.
Having given birth in September 2017, Williams returned to competitive action in early 2018 and she was back in a major final by July as she played in the Wimbledon final.
However, she lost that match against Angelique Kerber as well as the US Open final against Naomi Osaka.
She also played in two Grand Slam finals in 2019, but went down against Simona Halep at SW19 and was defeated by Bianca Andreescu in Flushing Meadows.
During a column for Tennishead.net, Mouratoglou revealed that striking the right balance in terms of tournaments and returning to full fitness are things they are working on.
“People ask me whether Serena is playing enough tournaments away from the Grand Slam events. Of course, playing and winning matches can only give you confidence, but I don’t feel that a lack of confidence has been the problem for her,” he wrote.
“You don’t win quarter-finals and semi-finals in the way that she has without feeling confident. Similarly, there has been no problem with her level of tennis going into these finals.
“Fitness, nevertheless, has been an issue. It took Serena a long time to get back in shape after giving birth. Breastfeeding contributed to the length of that process and it was many, many months before she was able to start practising the way that she needed to in order to get back in shape. She’s getting closer and closer to 100 per cent fitness, but I don’t think she’s there yet.
“It’s important to feel that your fitness is at a high enough level to enable you to get a lot of balls back if you run into trouble in the rallies. You need to have plenty of different options. When you sense you are not at peak fitness you might feel you have only one option available – and if that option isn’t working you can start to panic because you have nowhere else to turn.”
However, the Frenchman says the 38-year-old did not produce her best tennis in the four finals as she never really got going during the straight-sets defeats.
“When Serena is Serena she is unstoppable. She hasn’t been the real Serena in the last four finals. That’s what we have to change,” he wrote.
Mouratoglou continued: “It’s always questionable to change something when you’ve been with someone for so long and have had so many good results together in the past. It might not have worked in the last four finals, but before that it had worked in 10 of the 12 Grand Slam finals Serena had reached since I began working with her seven years ago. What we have to consider is that Serena is facing a new challenge at the moment, the last one of her career, and that we probably need to adapt and find a solution to it.”
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