40 LOVE Moments: Serena's Other Streaks
Published May 18, 2013 12:00
ROME, Italy - Serena Williams set her new personal best winning streak at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Friday, winning her 22nd match in a row - but how far back do we have to go to find her previous personal best? It was 21 in a row, something she achieved twice in her Serena Slam days.
Williams' first 21-match winning streak came during the 2002 season, bringing her three straight titles at Rome, Roland Garros and Wimbledon and then taking her to the quarterfinals of Los Angeles before Chanda Rubin stepped up and stopped her - Rubin originally led by a set and a break, 62 43, then Williams stormed back and led 4-1 in the third, but Rubin rebounded to close it out, 62 46 75.
"This is a great step for me," Rubin said. "I wanted to go out and be aggressive when I had my opportunities, and I wanted to serve well and be quick off of her serve. So it was a combination of things. Once I got into the points and into the rallies, I was feeling pretty good out there."
"She had to play great tennis to beat me - anyone has to play great to beat me, so obviously she played really, really well," Williams said afterwards. "Maybe I was a bit rusty and maybe I didn't practice hard enough, but this isn't really a setback - I'm still planning on getting that US Open."
Williams would go on to win the US Open that year, the third leg of her self-coined Serena Slam.
Williams' second 21-match winning streak came at the tail end of that Serena Slam in 2003, bringing her three straight titles at the Australian Open, Paris [Indoors] and Miami and then taking her to the final of Charleston, where Justine Henin stepped up and took her out in straights, 63 64, rallying from 3-0 down in the first set and 3-1 down in the second to win. She leapt into the air after match point.
"This doesn't change anything about the great champion Serena is, but today we could see that we can do these things against her," Henin said afterwards. "It's good for other players we can see that."
"Sometimes you need to lose," Williams said after seeing her perfect 21-0 start to the season come to an end. "I'm so motivated now. I can just feel it coming on again. So you've got to watch out."
While that would be Rubin's only career win over Williams, Henin would end up becoming one of Williams' toughest rivals, at one point drawing even with her in their head-to-head series, 6-6 - Williams would finish with a winning 8-6 record against her though, winning their last two career meetings at Miami in 2008 (62 60) and in an electric final at the Australian Open in 2010 (64 36 62).