When you get to the age of 30 in tennis, fans and analysts begin to wait for the other shoe to drop on your game. Serena Williams doubters will want to point to her first-round exit from the French Open as the "beginning of the end" for her, but that's simply not the case.
Williams missed 10 months last year due to a variety of health scares, but that time off hasn't stopped her from dominating on the court up until the upset at Roland Garros.
The Michigan-born tennis phenom came into the French with 17 straight victories on clay and two tournament victories to her name already this season. Williams is still one of the most dominant female tennis players on the tour and will continue to be despite losing her first ever first-round match in a Grand Slam tournament.
"I just felt I couldn't get a ball in play," Williams told the Associated Press "You know, when I did, I just felt like I was hitting late and, I mean, how can you hit late on a clay court? It was kind of odd."
Simon Briggs of the Telegraph believes that perhaps Williams' loss was due not to lingering injuries, but to the anxiety of being in the latter part of her career, saying:
"When you move towards the end of your career, there is that terrible anxiety that each match in any given tournament could be your final outing on that particular stage."
While the tennis world may not be used to seeing Williams rattled, even the great Roger Federer had to take time off last year to shake the cobwebs off and gather himself mentally. Both the younger Williams sister and Federer are 30 years old.
Williams did admit to a feeling of nervousness during her French Open bout, telling the Associated Press, "I definitely was nervous. I'm always a little nervous in every match I play, which I think is a little bit healthy."
These sort of slip ups and surprising early exits happen to great players towards the end of their careers, but that doesn't mean Williams' days of winning tournaments are over. Heck, she won the WTA Family Circle Cup and Madrid Open in the past two months alone.
Even with an early exit from the French, Williams is still one of the best women's tennis players on the tour and she has several more tournament victories in her future I'm sure.