Serena Williams played coy about her health and readiness going into the Italian Open in Rome. But as if she wanted to quiet the skeptics and feed her fans, Williams erased all doubts by defending her title convincingly at the event.
She defeated Sara Errani, 6-3, 6-0, and re-established herself as the clear favorite going into the French Open at Roland Garros.
SERENA WILLIAMS TRIONFA AL FORO ITALICO! 6-3 6-0 alla nostra Errani! Serena Williams wins 6-3 6-0. She is the new champion of Roma! @WTA— Internazionali Bnl (@InteBNLdItalia) May 18, 2014
The Italian Open was underway and questions began to surface about whether Williams would even take to the clay courts. Defense of her French Open crown appeared in jeopardy.
But Williams cleared up all that nonsense with an emphatic display in Rome. She appeared to be sending a message to all the doubters, up-and-comers, veteran challengers and No. 1 wannabes: The queen still reigns.
It doesn't matter if she limps off the court in defeat or is shocked by a determined up-and-coming player. As long as Williams can walk onto a court, she remains the favorite.
Her biggest test at the Italian Open came in the semifinals when she faced a resurgent Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic upset Williams at the Australian Open and had just taken out Maria Sharapova. Ivanovic managed to take a set off Williams. However, who had control of that match was never in doubt.
That's the way it's been under Williams' more recent reign. Her game is simply superior to everyone else's. She has the best serve, the best backhand, the best forehand, the best return of serve and volleys with the best. She pulls off drop shots—from the baseline. She runs down shots that would be winners against anyone else.
She loses so rarely—only four times last year—that when she goes down in defeat her opponent acts as if they've won the Mega Millions Lottery.
She turns 33 in September. At some time she'll have to slow down. At some point she'll cease to dominate the WTA. That day is coming; probably not this year...certainly not this summer.