Serena Williams is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time—the greatest player, even—but that doesn’t mean she’s completely invincible on the court. Her latest defeat was at the 2019 U.S. Open, where she lost the final match to 19-year-old Canadian player Bianca Andreescu. And in a press conference following the match, Williams shared an incredibly vulnerable explanation for her surprising loss.
Williams was blunt: The outcome of the match was largely the fault of her own play. “I think this was the worst match I’ve played all tournament,” she said about her performance. “It’s inexcusable to play at that level.”
“I believe I could have played better,” she continued. “I believe I could have done more. I believe I could have just been more Serena today.”
Williams’s loss marks the fourth major defeat she’s faced since returning from giving birth to her daughter, Olympia, in 2017. Those losses are at odds with the G.O.A.T. title she’s been given, she said in her press conference. “I honestly don’t think Serena showed up. I have to kind of figure out how to get her to show up in grand slam finals.”
Williams also displayed excellent sportsmanship when asked about her competitor. Andreescu was born the year after Williams won her first title at the U.S. Open, and Williams complimented her young opponent’s skill on the court. “I think Bianca obviously played well. I think her returns make me play better and puts pressure on my serve,” she said.