Barbara J MacFarlane, MD
Serena Williams - She'll Be Back.
With Serena's debut at Indian Wells, there was intense excitement. When she encoutered her regular toughest opponent in Venus, you could measure where she was in her journey of progress. Serena most likely always measures her tennis in terms of how well she plays Venus. It has been her constant benchmark.
Transition to Miami Open.
In the nine days between playing Venus and then playing Naomi Osaka in the Miami Open, no doubt there was intense training and practice. It was clear, in the playing of Osaka, that Serena had improved her game in intensity and fitness since Indian Wells. This improvement however wasn't quite enough.
Where further imrovement is needed.
It is not much that is needed for improvement. The powerful Osaka who was playing in the winning zone was a great test again for Serena. It help her figure out just where she is in the big game picture. It likely was of benefit for Serena to have that as her first match. She now knows exactly where the perfection is needed.
The three areas to improve.
There are three areas that can seal Serena's improvement back to her dominance. Her muscle memory of the important shots needs to be dialed in more. Every elite athlete counts on that especially with intense difficult shots. It needs to be honed more so Serena can call on specific shots when she whenever needs them. It is doing the shot over and over correctly that will brings that muscle memory back. Secondly, her fitness level is improving but needs that final touch. That is accomplished with time as well as week in and week out endurance and strength training. She can be there by the French Open. Also her awareness of how the field has changed since the AO in 2017. The women's tennis field has acquired more depth and diversity since January 2017. Studying the field's special skills and developing your own response to new techniques and styles is always an ongoing evolvement for tennis players. Serena just needs to catch up for the time she has been away. She's ready to do so.
She will be on the ball for the French Open.
Serena's goal is to win Grand Slams. She has her eye on the ball and will be fit and ready for the French Open and then going forward with Wimbledon and the US Open. She will definitely be a serious contender at all three. With that determination of play seen in the Miami Open, she could surpise us and win all three. Her determination is unstoppable.