Playing only two tournaments in the opening four months of the new season, the 23-time Major champion Serena Williams returned to action in Rome and Parma. Competing on clay for the first time since the last year's Roland Garros, Serena experienced two short campaigns in Italy, hoping for a better run at the upcoming Roland Garros.
Nadia Podorska ousted Serena in the opening match in Rome in two tight sets, while the American lost to Katerina Siniakova in the second round in Parma. Serena's coach Patrick Mouratoglou said that Serena probably wasn't ready for Parma after an early exit in Rome, still needing a lot of work on the practice court to play competitive tennis at Roland Garros.
Williams is still seeking that elusive 24th Major crown and the first in over four years, with her first chances coming in Paris and London in the next two months. "I think Serena lost because she wasn't ready. I don't know, but maybe it wasn't a good idea to go and play in Parma because her match in Rome showed many things that still needed to be worked on to compete at the highest level.
I think it's always interesting to play matches because it gives you a clear vision of where you are, so that was good in that way because we know what she still needs to accomplish to be ready for Roland Garros. I'm not worried in general because if she does the job, she will be ready.
It's just about doing the job. We have to go on the court, work, and day after day, I will see. To be completely honest with you, when I saw her before the Australian Open for preparation, I thought 'wow' - a lot of work to get ready.
Patrick Mouratoglou shared thoughts about Serena Williams' recent results.
But in a short period, Serena was able to hit great form. She played well, but unfortunately not through the whole tournament - only until the semi-finals.
She played great tennis and moved well, and it didn't taker her too much time to get ready. I'm never scared of the others, and I'm not going to start now. I respect many other players who are definitely good, and there is a lot of depth in the women's game.
I've always said regarding Serena that it's all about her, and it's still all about her. The question is, is she able or not to start a Major being in her top form and able to win? She was 100% ready in Australia, really prepared to win, but it didn't happen.
We'll see how she is in the next couple of tournaments. When she gets to the latter stages, the semi-finals and the final, how does she handle the situation, and can she play her best tennis? The last year she hasn't been able to play her best in the latter stages.
First of all, when people tell her 'she can't,' it gives her extra motivation, so please tell Francesca Schiavone to say it louder so I can make sure Serena can hear it! Secondly, she's been able to do things in her career that were in theory not possible because she has this belief that she can achieve anything, and that's such great strength," Patrick Mouratoglou said.