Once upon a time, Serena Williams lost to Madison Brengle at the ASB Classic in her second match of 2017.
(Madison Brengle, who was double bagelled by Venus Williams in the 2015 Wimbledon first round.)
(Madison Brengle, the world no. 72, who entered the season on a four match losing streak, and made it beyond the second round just seven times in 28 events last year.)
(Madison Brengle, whom Serena had beaten 6-0 6-1 in their only previous meeting.)
The wind blew up a gale. Serena Williams and her powerful aggression did not like it.
Serena Williams thus hit 88 unforced errors.
In Auckland last season, sister Venus hit 72 unforced errors to lose to Daria Kasatkina in round one. That’s the equivalent of the number of points needed to win three sets in a row.
And 88 is 16 unforced errors more. For the average player, it’s pretty dreadful. For the greatest woman ever to grace the game, that’s appalling. In Serena’s words: “It’s unprofessional.”
“I just couldn’t get used to the wind,” the top seed reflected. “My opponent played in the exact same conditions, so obviously she was used to it and her game was more suited to it, but it was just really annoying me for whatever reason.”
Crazy weather, and 88 unforced errors (despite 43 winners to Brengle’s eight) tell the story of this result.
Short and simple: This will not dictate Serena Williams’ season.
Brengle: “If I played even uglier off the return? Is that a good idea?”
Coach: “I think you might as well.”
Brengle: “Because if I’m actually hitting it she’s like ‘Oh yeah, this is nice’, and just hits it over the net.”
Brengle: “Because… I think she’s like, surprised how bad I am.”