With that said, Williams will never be considered the top player in the world again. In fact, there's a good chance she will never win another Grand Slam.
She had a solid 2010, but 2011 was so riddled with injuries that it's tough to be optimistic. Williams can play well for short bursts, but she simply can't sustain it.
Williams is one of the greatest female athletes of all time, but her career is nearly over.
As for her reign at the top? It's long gone and it'll never happen again.
Serena Williams had an awful 2011.
She only won two singles titles and she was only competitive in one Grand Slam. She made it to the Final at the U.S. Open before losing in straight sets.
Other than that performance, the 2011 Grand Slams were practically meaningless for Williams.
She lost in the fourth round of Wimbledon and injuries prevented her from playing in the other two tournaments.
While Williams can't be blamed for her injuries, 2011 was extremely discouraging. With play (and luck) like that, Williams will be lucky to be competitive for much longer.
Serena Williams does not only have tennis.
Whether it's fashion, cosmetics or volunteer work, Williams has always done her best to stay busy outside of tennis.
While that didn't distract her much during her prime, it's definitely a distraction at this point. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just a fact.
As athletes age, they need to sharpen their focus to remain on top. Williams simply hasn't done that.
Kudos to her for branching out and strengthening her brand. That's an incredible feat.
However, it's a feat that will also prevent her from reclaiming her tennis glory.
Who really cares if Serena Williams' focus is elsewhere?
She's already won everything.
Williams has won each of the Grand Slams and she won them over a course of nine years.
She has the sixth most Grand Slam titles of all time and she has the most in her era. Williams is one of the all-time greatest, so she doesn't have anything left to prove.
It would be great for her legacy if she could continue to win titles, but it isn't necessary. Williams has won everything she could, so she doesn't have much motivation to try and keep winning.
If Serena Williams doesn't fully dedicate herself, then she has zero chance of returning to the top spot.
That being said, apparently she never fully dedicated herself in the first place. In fact, in this report, she said that she doesn't even like sports.
Despite being one of the most confusing quotes I've ever seen, Williams is clear that she's just playing tennis because she doesn't know what else she would do.
That's fine. Good for her.
However, that isn't the way a declining athlete reclaims her throne. Without her heart in it, Williams simply doesn't have a chance to reach the top again.
Serena Williams was at her best when her sister Venus Williams was pushing her.
Yes, both of their primes occurred at the same time, which positively affected each of their play. However, it goes deeper than that.
When a great athlete's biggest rival plays well, that athlete responds by playing better. That back and forth play (whether they're against each other or not) brings out the best in both of them.
Now, imagine your biggest rival is your sister.
Obviously, the Williams sisters are close, but they definitely never held back anything on the court. As long as Venus was playing well, Serena would respond by playing better.
Venus hasn't made it to the final of an event since May 2010. Without pressure from her sister, Serena simply can't rise up to the level she used to play at.
Unless Venus makes some sort of comeback, don't expect too much from Serena.
Serena Williams simply isn't the player she once was.
Regardless of what you factor in, she isn't nearly as talented.
With that said, it should be noted that she was one of the most dominating athletes of all time. However, she should still be able to play decently well.
Her biggest problem will be consistency. Williams can still elevate to a high level. But how long can she stay there?
For her to ascend to the No. 1 ranking again, she will need to play well for a long period of time. She's well past her prime, which means an extended high level of play is unlikely.
Even if she starts to play well, Serena Williams has to overcome a lot of very good competition.
She is currently ranked 12th in the world and she is a long way from ascending the rankings.
Li Na made the Australian Open final last year and then she won the French Open. Samantha Stosur defeated Williams in the 2011 U.S. Open Final. Plus, Maria Sharapova is still playing well, winning two titles last year.
None of those women are in the WTA Top Three.
If Williams hopes to get back to the top, she will have to leapfrog these three women, plus another handful. It will be a long climb and Williams isn't showing too many signs of being capable of doing so.
The window of opportunity for Serena Williams is quickly closing.
Unfortunately, for her biggest competition, the window is simply opening.
The top three ranked players in the world, Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka, are all under 23 years old.
As Williams is trying to succeed in the twilight of her career, these women are trying to make names for themselves. It's quite the contrast and Williams is definitely the underdog.
These women are in the prime of their careers and Williams will have an incredibly tough time trying to overcome them to become the top player in the world again.
The name Serena Williams used to carry some serious weight.
While it's just as recognizable, Williams doesn't strike fear into her opponents like she used to. She seems much more human, which makes her seem beatable.
Her biggest strength used to be her power and intimidation. She could just blast the ball at her opponent because they were practically petrified of her.
With that intimidation, Williams was able to cruise through a lot of matches. Now, that won't be the case.
Without her ability to cruise, Williams will tire out quicker and she won't be able to go as deep into tournaments. Subsequently, Williams will be unable to climb back up the world rankings.
In order to reclaim the top spot, Serena Williams will need to stay healthy.
Unfortunately, that hasn't happened for a long time.
In the summer of 2010, when she was No. 1 in the world, Williams cut her foot and she ended up having to have surgery. She returned in June 2011, but was clearly rusty after all that time off.
She withdrew from the Cincinnati Open in August, citing a right toe injury. After playing well at the U.S. Open (eventually losing in the final), Williams took the rest of 2011 off.
At the start of 2012, she injured her left ankle at the Brisbane International, preparing for the Australian Open. The ankle forced her to withdraw from the tournament, but it hasn't seemed to bother her at the Aussie Open.
At 30 years old, Williams' body will start to heal slower. Small injuries will become big injuries and she will start losing more and more time to play.
As long as she is losing that time, Williams will be unable to reclaim the No. 1 ranking.