Serena Williams will head into the season's final Grand Slam tournament, the U.S. Open, without a title in one of the first three for just the second time since 2011. That's because she was eliminated from Wimbledon by Alize Cornet in the third round.
BBC Breaking News noted her exit from the event at the All England Club:
Women's top seed Serena Williams knocked out of Wimbledon tennis tournament by France's Alize Cornet— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 28, 2014
ESPN Tennis puts the loss into perspective:
Another 2014 Slam, another unfavorable result. This loss ties Serena's earliest loss ever at Wimbledon (1998 & 2005). pic.twitter.com/BUifV1MwZG— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) June 28, 2014
Expectations were sky high for Williams coming into the tournament. Certainly the early exit wasn't what she had envisioned, given the dominance she's put on display at this tournament in the past.
She's had a tendency throughout her career to bounce back in a huge way after an early exit at one of tennis' main showcases. In 2012, she was eliminated in the first round of the French Open before proceeding to win her fifth Wimbledon title.
This year she was knocked out in the second round in Paris by Garbine Muguruza. After the shockingly lopsided loss, the Agence France-Presse (via NDTV Sports) passed along comments from the American about getting back into top form:
"I'm going to go home and work five times as hard to make sure I never lose again," she said. "If I couldn't play better I would be even more disappointed. But I know I can, so I know I have something to look forward to."
Given her success at the All England Club and the fact she's the top player on the WTA Tour when at her best, she started the tournament as the clear favorite.
She even showed up to Wimbledon a week early to work on her backhand, which was one of the areas that let her down in the French Open:
Ultimately, things clearly didn't work out as expected for Williams. She fell short in her attempt to add another Wimbledon title to her already stacked trophy case. And now she's just the U.S. Open away from finishing the season without a major title.
How far will Williams go in the U.S. Open?
It would be a rare occurrence for the top-ranked player. The last time she competed in all four Grand Slam events during a calendar year and didn't win any of them was 2001. It illustrates both her dominance and her staying power.
The only thing the Wimbledon loss does is add a little more pressure to the situation. Not only is it her home Slam, but failing to win a major in 2014 would also inevitably lead to questions about decline, even if they probably aren't warranted.
Since there are several U.S. Open Series events between now and the season's last major, Williams should have plenty of time to work out the kinks that have developed this summer. Strong warm-up performances will set her up for success in New York.
Williams has set such a high standard over the years that it has basically become major title or bust. That's tough to live up to even when you're the best player in the world.
She wasn't able to get the job done at Wimbledon, but she'll remain the player to beat heading into the U.S. Open.