After losing to Kim Clijsters today in the 2010 US Open semi-finals, Venus Williams looked very dejected. That is to be expected to happen to anyone who makes it to the final four of a grand slam and comes up short, but you could sense that this was different.
Venus has always played better in a grand slam when her sister Serena isn't in the draw, which was the case at Flushing Meadows this season, so she had high hopes for this tournament, even bringing seven different outfits for seven different rounds of the tournament. She was considered one of the favorites to win a title she hadn't since 2001, and at the age of 30, maybe just blew the best chance she had at winning any major again.
The tiebreaker she played against Clijsters this afternoon in the second set is likely to play over and over in the mind of Venus, especially if she ends her career with the seven grand slam titles she currently has in her possession. She played a very loose breaker, as she hit three double-faults and did not win a single point on her serve in what ended up becoming the deciding few moments of the match.
If she was able to win that tiebreak, she would have been a heavy favorite against Vera Zvonareva in the finals, a player who has not given her many problems in their head to head matchups. Instead, she ends 2010 the way she did 2009, without having won a grand slam title.
The encounter between the two great champions was one of the best of the tournament, with Venus getting off to a strong start, Clijsters barely being able to hold on, then both of them having their chances to advance to the finals on Saturday. Williams appeared to tire a little bit as the third set wore on and Clijsters was able to pull away and advance to the finals for the fourth straight time she entered the US Open.
Not many grand slams are won by players in their 30's, and that's something Venus will have to do if she wants to add to her five Wimbeldon's and two US Open titles. She showed glimpses today of what has allowed her to win those titles, especially in that first set where she dominated her service games. But her lack of consistency allowed Clijsters to get right into it, and that problem alone will only make it harder for Venus to hold a grand slam trophy again as she gets on in years.