2019 was yet another interesting year for 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams. Despite having just eight tournament appearances all year long (all coming at Premier 5-level events or above), the American reached three finals and returned to the top 10 rankings for the first time since her comeback to the tour as a mother. The results ultimately placed her at 10th in the year-end rankings.
Williams enacted a 25-6 win-loss record across tour-level events in 2019, the most she has scored in a season since 2016, and 18 of those victories came at the Grand Slams. The American also has three wins to her name at the Hopman Cup, where she won all her three singles matches, over Maria Sakkari, Belinda Bencic and Katie Boulter.
Williams also scored three wins over top-10 opposition in 2019, all of them coming over top-5 opponents in top-ranked Simona Halep (Australian Open), second-ranked Naomi Osaka (Toronto) and fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina (US Open).
Williams started the year at the Hopman Cup, her fifth overall appearance here, where she partnered Frances Tiafoe. Despite her spotless record in her singles matches, the team finished last in their group. The American then reached the last eight at the Australian Open where she went up against Karolina Pliskova. The American was a game away from the win at 5-1 in the decider when she rolled her ankle, which culminated in a 4-6, 6-4, 5-7 loss to the Czech.
Williams’ next significant results all came in the summer where she finished runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open for the second year in a row, this time to Halep and Bianca Andreescu, respectively, the latter made Andreescu the first Grand Slam winner who was born in the new millennium. Williams’ wins in the quarterfinals of the US Open, over Wang Qiang, was her 100th win of the tournament, the US Open thus becoming the first Grand Slam event where she achieved this feat.
Williams was also runner-up to Andreescu at the Rogers Cup in Toronto two weeks prior, her first appearance in a final outside the Grand Slams since her return, but had to retire down 1-3 in the opening set due to a back problem. The American’s year-end ranking of number 10 saw her tie Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova for most top-10 season finishes this decade, having done so ever year this decade except 2011, 2017 and 2018.
Between the Australian Open and Wimbledon, Williams played four tournaments but did not make the quarterfinal stage in any of them. A defeat to Garbiñe Muguruza in the third round of Indian Wells was followed by a walkover to Wang in the same round in Miami. The American then returned during the clay court season, in Rome, where she beat Swede Rebecca Peterson in her opener but then conceded a walkover in the following round to older sister Venus.
At the French Open, Williams scored back-to-back wins for the first time since the Australian Open, defeating Vitalia Diatchenko and Kurumi Nara to make the third round where she lost to compatriot Sofia Kenin in straight sets, making it the first time Williams failed to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament in back-to-back seasons since Wimbledon in 2013 and 2014, and at the French Open since 1998 and 1999.
Williams best results of 2019 are three runner-up finishes (Wimbledon, Toronto and US Open), and a quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
Williams made the third round in Indian Wells, Miami and the French Open, and the second round in Rome.
Almost 40 but still chasing, and making, history, Williams continues to prove that she is not done and dusted just yet. Making four Grand Slam finals in a span of two years at this stage of her career, and after childbirth, is already a commendable feat even though she remains in hunt for her 24th Grand Slam title, which would see her tie Margaret Court’s all-time record of most Grand Slam titles.
However, is time finally kicking in, given she has lost those finals? Whether the American does tie, or even break, that record, only time will tell, but one should not turn away from the fact that she has already cemented herself as one of the all-time greats, in an era when is evolving with each passing season, becoming more and more competitive.
Williams, after all, already has a glittering career that boasts 100 titles across all levels of competition which includes 72 singles titles, four Olympic gold medals, five WTA Finals titles, 17 wins over a reigning world number one, 176 wins over a top-10 player, and five season-finishes atop the rankings (2002, 2009, 2013-2015).