The last Premier Mandatory event of the WTA season will take place in Beijing next week, gathering an incredible field of players who will chase 1000 points in the battle for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen. Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu and other players from the top should all be in the Chinese capital and the biggest star set to miss the event is the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams who is most probably out for the rest of the season.
As was expected after the US Open, the 38-year-old has taken a long break and it is unlikely for her to play again before 2020, happy with the progress she made in the first nine months of the season after competing in two Grand Slam finals.
The American veteran is still ranked among the best players in the world two decades after she cracked the top-10 for the first time, embracing light schedule and competing at only eight tournaments, which makes her ranking position even more respectable.
Serena kicked off the season at the Australian Open (staying away from tennis after the US Open 2018), losing to Karolina Pliskova in three close sets and missing all the action in February before returning to the court at Indian Wells and Miami, struggling with injuries and scoring just two wins overall.
Serena took more rest and returned on clay in Rome, withdrawing before the clash against her sister Venus and losing in the third round at Roland Garros to the young American Sofia Kenin. Still, the best was yet to come for her at Wimbledon, advancing into the final just like in 2018 and failing to lift the trophy again after a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Simona Halep who was just too strong on that day.
Williams played on a high level in Toronto too, beating Naomi Osaka and reaching the title clash against Bianca Andreescu that she had to give away after four games, retiring and skipping Cincinnati to start a recovery process before the home Major in New York.
There, Serena was back at her best, advancing into the third straight final on the Tour and finishing runner-up just like at Wimbledon following a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Bianca Andreescu. One of the greatest players of all time is still eager to pursue that 24th Major crown and should be in contention for it in 2020 if she maintains this level, proving her eternal class once again in 2019 despite age and all the setbacks with injuries.