Aryna Sabalenka claimed the third WTA title of the season in Linz, wrapping up the year in the top-10 for the first time in a career. The Belarusian outplayed the 23-time Major champion Serena Williams by 140 points, sending the American out from the year-end top-10 charts for the fourth time in the previous four years!
Thus, Serena will remain on 16 year-end top-10 finishes, starting in 1999 and staying competitive for over two decades. A year ago, Serena did enough to close the year in the elite ten despite a light schedule, missing the honor in the current season despite giving her best at every tournament.
Serena has failed to win a Major title for three consecutive seasons for the first time in a career, waiting for that elusive 24th Major crown since the Australian Open 2017! Giving birth to a child later that year, Williams has dropped everything on four most notable tournaments in the previous three seasons, reaching back-to-back finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and 2019 for a strong comeback.
It wasn't to be for the American, though, as she suffered four painful losses, hoping to make that extra step in 2020. After an early loss, that didn't come in Melbourne, preparing for Roland Garros and Wimbledon when the coronavirus halted the action between March and August.
Wimbledon had to close the gates for the first time since 1945, and Serena turned the focus on the home Major in New York, seeking the seventh title and the first since 2014. The veteran reached the semis for the 11th straight time, making a strong start against Victoria Azarenka before losing ground to propel the Belarusian into the title clash.
Like in 2017 and 2018, Serena will end the season outside the top-10.
Ready to give it a shot in her beloved Paris, Serena went to Europe and trained at Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, seeking the first Roland Garros title in five years.
The American won the first-round match before withdrawing with an Achilles injury ahead of the clash with Tsvetlana Pironkova, missing another chance in the quest for the 24th Major title. Williams is on a recovery course, hoping to be at 100% ahead of 2021.
In the first round in Paris, Serena defeated Kristie Ahn 7-6, 6-0 in an hour and 41 minutes, securing the 66th win in Paris and the 357th at Majors. In New York, Williams toppled Ahn in straight sets in the first round, repeating that in Paris on Monday after a challenging opening set that lasted for 72 minutes.
As it turned out, Ahn had nothing left in the tank after that, allowing Serena to produce a bagel and open the title chase before the injury that ended her run and the season.