Serena Williams vowed to keep chasing down Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles after it remained once again tantalisingly out of reach thanks to Garbine Muguruza’s French Open triumph on Saturday.
Williams’s titles count at the majors has stalled on 21 ever since she lifted a sixth Wimbledon crown last year by beating Muguruza in the final.
The American star then suffered a shock semi-final loss to Italian journeywoman Roberta Vinci at the US Open before defeat to Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open title match in January.
Saturday’s 7-5, 6-4 loss to Muguruza, 12 years her junior, was the first time in her storied career that she had lost two successive Grand Slam finals.
Muguruza, interestingly, is only the second player born in the 1990s — after Petra Kvitova — to win a Grand Slam.
“The only thing I can do is just keep trying,” said Williams who was attempting to win a fourth French Open after 2002, 2013 and 2015.
“In Australia, Ann Kerber made 16 errors in three sets, you know, so what do you do in that situation? Today Garbine played unbelievable.
“It’s definitely something I want to dissect and see what I can learn from that and what can I do to get better from it.”
Williams had struggled with an adductor injury at Roland Garros, a condition not helped by the unseasonal chill and damp.
Despite that, she still finished top of the pile for aces served at 36 and sent down the joint fastest serve of the event at 196km/h in Saturday’s final.
But she had one of the lowest first serve percentage rates at 60% and managed to convert only 30 of 73 break points over the two weeks.
The final, she suggested, was a reflection of her tournament as a whole.
“It was just so many holes. Like I could have served better. I mean, I made a lot of errors on my return.
“I did definitely try out there today, but did I play better than the other matches? It’s a totally different game. But it’s going in the right direction, I think.”
Williams believes Muguruza, the first Spanish woman since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1998 to win a Grand Slam, has the game to build further on her Roland Garros breakthrough.
“I think she has a bright future, obviously. She knows how to play on the big stage and she clearly knows how to win Grand Slams,” said the American of a player who was just eight when she won her first Paris title.
“She’s definitely hitting hard. She just goes for broke on every shot and it works for her.”