It was Williams’ first outing at the Australian Open, a tournament he won seven times, since 2006, and then, the 38-year-old said at his age, he can’t afford to make so many mistakes.
“I’m too old to play like this at this stage of my career,” said Williams, according to the Associated Press. “I will definitely train tomorrow, that’s the first and most important thing, to make sure I don’t do this again.”
The game was almost over long before. Wang dominated the first set, saving the four break points he faced, accumulating 10 winners and making only five unforced errors, and was serving to finish 5-4 in the second. But Williams broke Wang for the first time in six attempts and then dominated the tiebreaker to force a third set.
“I was optimistic that I could win,” Williams said. “I thought:” Okay, now I finished this. “Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to lose that game.”
The fact that she really lost the game raises the question of whether Williams can ever catch Margaret Court and her 24 Grand Slam titles of all time. Although he reached the final of the previous two strokes, three years have passed since he last won one, at the 2017 Australian Open, when he was pregnant with his daughter Alexis.
“I didn’t come back like Serena. Honestly, if we were honest with ourselves, I lost that game,” Williams said. “I can’t play like that. I literally can’t do that again. It is not professional. Not well.”
A long-awaited fourth round match between Williams and his close friend Caroline Wozniacki is now off the table, and neither can survive the third round. Wozniacki, the 2018 Australian Open champion who was playing in her final tournament before arthritis-induced retirement, retired from the competitive tournament and tennis almost at the same time as Williams, suffering a loss of 7-5, 3- 6, 7-5 to Ons Jabeur, 78th place in Tunisia.
Williams told reporters after her game that she and Wozniacki “were a little discouraged” together in the locker room after their losses and tried to calm their emotions when they talked about “one of my best friends in the world.”