Serena not ready for final curtain
SERENA Williams is closing in on her 35th birthday and has just suffered back-to-back Grand Slam final losses for the first time, but the American superstar is not ready to be dethroned any time soon.
Williams' latest attempt to equal Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 Grand Slam titles was thwarted on Saturday by Garbine Muguruza in the French Open final.
So Williams' Grand Slam haul has stalled at 21, but she will still start as favourite to win a seventh Wimbledon when the third major of the year gets underway in three weeks.
"The only thing I can do is just keep trying," said Williams, who was attempting to win a fourth French Open after 2002, 2013 and 2015.
Last year, when she collected a sixth Wimbledon, it allowed her to celebrate a second "Serena Slam" of all four majors at the same time.
She had already achieved a first Slam sweep in 2002.
Despite her record and status as one of the greatest players of all time, there were, however, obvious problems in a damp and chilly Paris, hinting that her sheer power is possibly being diminished.
Serena finished top of the pile for aces served at 36 and sent down the joint fastest serve of the event at 196kmh in Saturday's final.
But she had one of the lowest first serve percentage rates at 60 per cent and managed to convert only 30 of 73 break points over the two weeks.
Her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou has no doubts that she will reach the magical figure of 22.
"Serena was far from her best level today," Mouratoglou told eurosport.fr.
"It will take as long as it takes, but Serena will win a 22nd Grand Slam.
"It's not easy to break records, it wasn't easy for her to get to 18 (the number won by Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova)."
Muguruza's coach Sam Sumyk was also refusing to write off the American.
"It's not the end of Serena. She will be around for a long time. She is a fantastic player, we need her."