World #8 Serena Williams will play at next week’s inaugural Emilia-Romagna Open. The American is searching for match practice ahead of the upcoming second Grand Slam of the year at Roland Garros, having faced the prospect of arriving in Paris after playing only one match in three months after an early loss in Rome. The news was announced by Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou on Twitter, who admitted the legendary American has been short on match fitness in recent months.
Change of plans: Serena hasn't been competing for a while, and we want to get as many matches under our belt as possible before Roland-Garros – so we're adding the Emilia-Romagna Open to our schedule.
We’ll be back in action next week 🇮🇹
𝑷𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒂 𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒊𝒕. pic.twitter.com/RlsWxvrxBx
— Patrick Mouratoglou (@pmouratoglou) May 13, 2021
Williams beaten by Podoroska in her 1000th WTA match
The 39-year-old American returned to action in Rome this week. It was her first tournament since losing the semifinals of the Australian Open to Naomi Osaka. She was playing in the 1000th WTA match of her career on Wednesday, but she struggled to get a foothold in the match in her first outing at the Italian Open with the former world #1 lost in straight sets to Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska.
In the aftermath of that defeat to Podoroska, Serena said, ”I’m not playing as many matches. I’m just doing a lot of training. So it’s actually really good to get out and to play some matches… My season doesn’t usually start this late on clay. But the training isn’t for nothing, so I know that it’s just a matter of time.”
Williams has been stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles titles since capturing the Australian Open in 2017. Her chances of tying Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 are looking increasingly bleak, with the rise of Naomi Osaka and current world #1 Ashleigh Barty, amongst others, making the women’s game that much more competitive. In fact, Williams last trophy of any sort came in 2020 when she won the ASB Classic in Auckland.
She will surely be hoping that changes in Parma. In its first edition on the professional circuit, the Emilia-Romagna Open will run concurrently on both the ATP and WTA tours beginning 16 – 22 May (women’s), and 22 – 29 May (men’s). Williams will be the top seed in the women’s draw, and she will be joined by fellow Americans Madison Keys, Jessica Pegula, and Coco Gauff in a strong-looking line-up. She has an 8-3 record for the season, finishing as a semifinalist at Yara Valley Classic and the Australian Open prior to Rome.
Embed from Getty Images