Serena to continue record-equalling chase at French Open
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New York (AFP)
Serena Williams plans to dust herself down after the disappointment of another failed attempt at a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title and continue her chase at Roland Garros this month.
Williams crashed out of the US Open semi-finals on Thursday, blowing a set lead to lose in three hard-fought sets to former world number Victoria Azarenka.
"It's obviously disappointing but at the same time I did what I could today," a weary-looking Williams told reporters.
"It feel like other times I've been close and I could have done better and today I felt like I gave a lot," she added.
It has been more than three years since Williams won her 23rd singles tennis major title at the 2017 Australian Open -- when she was already pregnant with daughter Olympia.
The 38-year-old has come close since, reaching four major finals only to come away empty handed, and needs one more to match Margaret Court's record of 24.
Many commentators suggested that this week at Flushing Meadows presented her with her best opportunity due to a depleted field caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A bevy of top players, including world number one Ashleigh Barty, world number two Simona Halep and Canadian Bianca Andreescu -- who stunned Williams in last year's final -- skipped the event because of coronavirus concerns or injury.
A tournament victory for Williams would also have seen her break away from Chris Evert, on six titles, as the most decorated US Open champion of the women's game in the modern era.
But Williams fell at the penultimate hurdle to a rejuvenated Azarenka who bounced back from a 6-1 defeat in the first set to take the next two 6-3, 6-3.
It marked the first time that Williams had lost to Azarenka in almost a dozen Grand Slam matches.
Williams' presence at the rescheduled French Open, which starts on September 21, had been in doubt after she said earlier this week that she was undecided about whether to play.
Williams, who has a history of serious lung problems, said she wanted to talk to organizers about safety protocols after they said that some spectators would be in attendance.
After the French Open tournament director announced that all players will be housed in two designated hotels "without exception," Williams added that she had hoped she would be able to stay in her Paris apartment.
When asked Thursday night whether she would compete for a third title at Roland Garros, she answered: "Yeah, I mean, I'm definitely going to be going to Paris."
© 2020 AFP