Surely these results were nothing more than temporary setbacks, yet Serena’s slide continued. In 2012, she lost to 56th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round of the Australian Open. But it was at the French Open, the second Grand Slam event of the season, where everything fell apart completely. Serena lost to 11th ranked Virginie Razzano in the first round, the first time in her entire career that she was defeated in the opening round of a Grand Slam match. The <em>New York Times</em> described the defeat as “an upset that ranked among the most stunning and unexpected in the recent history…”
Doubts filled Serena’s head, and they impacted her performance. She was doing everything she had been doing in the past—she trained longer, worked harder, and her preparation was perfect—but what had brought her success in the past was no longer working, and she was no longer winning.
Why weren’t her tried-and-trusted methods working? Why wasn’t she winning? Was her time up at the top?