Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou recently spoke to Tennis Majors about the American's early exit from the 2021 Wimbledon Championships. Williams, who has been chasing Margaret Court's record tally of 24 Grand Slams for some time now, was forced to retire from her opener against Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to a knee injury.
Williams couldn't hide her disappointment at leaving the All England Club in such fashion and she bid goodbye to the crowd with tears streaming down her face.
When questioned about the 23-time Major winner's injury, Mouratoglou said he felt so connected to Williams - who he has coached since 2012 - that he was distraught to see her break down.
"The first emotions I felt were her emotions. I’m so connected with my players that I feel their emotions more than mine. In other words, my emotions are the consequences of theirs," Mouratoglou said. "I was hit full force because Serena was overwhelmed by emotions."
Mouratoglou was also asked to shed some light on Williams' injury. The Frenchman said the extent of the problem is still not known, but revealed that Williams was able to walk without much difficulty.
"We don’t know for the moment, we are expecting the result of the clinical assessment. The manual test gave us an idea of the nature of the injury, not how serious it is. She’s walking, which is a good sign, and it excludes very bad possibilities," Mouratoglou said.
According to Mouratoglou, Williams refused to dwell on the injury and was looking already looking towards the future.
"This retirement belongs to the past," Mouratoglou said. "I must say Serena spontaneously turned the page. It was just the two of us driving out of the stadium, and her only questions were how to bounce back. 'What’s the next step? Where should we do the MRI? etc.' She was in the solution mode."
"Serena Williams expected a lot from Wimbledon; in her head, she was going to win the trophy" - Patrick Mouratoglou
Serena Williams slipped in the fifth game of her opening-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and appeared to injure her leg that was already heavily strapped.
After receiving treatment, she tried to play a few more points but collapsed once again and conceded the match.
Mouratoglou said that he and the rest of Williams' team were initially unaware of the gravity of the situation. According to the Frenchman, it was only after Williams failed to kick off on her serve that they realized the American's tournament was coming to an end.
"In the box, we could not understand everything at first. We didn’t see her fall, we needed the slow-motion to figure it out," Mouratoglou said. "At the time, we just saw Serena stopping. We thought she missed a shot because of a false bounce, or she was disturbed by something on the surface. Nobody knew how serious it was."
"Then we saw that she served without her legs and didn’t even try to play balls that were one-meter away. At that point, we knew it was so desperate. If Serena Williams does that, it means that the tournament is over. The emotion was so intense because she knew it."
Mouratoglou said Williams was in much better shape at SW19 than she was at Roland Garros and, as such, had lofty expectations at the grasscourt Major.
"Serena expected a lot from Wimbledon. In her head, she was going to win the trophy. Her preparation had been very good. She was ready tennis-wise, physically, and mentally. In the first rallies, the energy was so good, so much better than Roland-Garros," Mouratoglou said.
The Frenchman did concede, however, that the Wimbledon exit was a big setback for the 39-year-old Williams, whose chances of winning a 24th Major are growing slimmer every year.
"She doesn’t know how many Wimbledon's she will play in the future. Probably not that many, you can’t be sure there will be another one. So many feelings going on in her head in a small amount of time."