Kim Clijsters' telling truth for Serena Williams after Wimbledon exit

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Pictured left to right are tennis icons Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters.
Kim Clijsters can sympathise with the challenges Serena Williams faces juggling motherhood, family life and tennis. Pic: Getty

Kim Clijsters has explained the harsh truth facing Serena Williams, in the wake of the 23-time major winner's disappointing first round exit at Wimbledon.

Williams lost 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7) to little-known Frenchwoman Harmony Tan, dealing another cruel blow to the American's hopes of equalling Margaret Court's all-time grand slam singles record.

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The 40-year-old had not played a competitive match since injuring her hamstring at Wimbledon last year, before she teamed up with Ons Jabeur in the Eastbourne doubles earlier this month.

Clijsters believes the lack of match practice was telling for Serena, but admitted that juggling motherhood and family life with professional tennis, was an extremely challenging dilemma.

The Belgian former World No.1 has twice made a comeback to tennis after giving birth, and as such fully appreciates the difficulties facing Williams.

"The hardest thing about coming back is not having enough matches under your belt," Clijsters told Eurosport.

"You can kind of think that you can rely on past experiences and think 'I don't need that many matches'.

"That's something that I've been used to, but once you get to a certain age and when you've been off for a little while, it's exactly those matches that you need and that becomes harder and harder to combine with your family life where you also want to spend time at home.

"Her (Williams') daughter is getting a little bit older and building her own little social life at home, and it gets harder and harder to leave to go on those long trips.

"That's definitely what I felt like I was missing the most... having those matches in a row and week after week.

"I think it's going to take her a little while to get over a loss where she came so close, in such a big moment.

"Although she didn't play a lot of tennis, she was still very motivated to get further into the draw and she wasn't shy about sharing her goals."

Seen here, Serena Williams looks upset after crashing out of the first round at Wimbledon.
Serena Williams was gutted after crashing out in the first round at Wimbledon. Pic: Getty

Serena Williams' serve not what it once was

Seven-time grand slam champion Mats Wilander said he agreed with Clijsters about the lack of match practice for Williams, identifying the American's serve as the biggest area of concern.

"Every time I see her [Williams] play and she's in a tournament, I always say 'she can still win a Grand Slam'", Wilander said.

"But she needs to serve better. And I feel in the last few years she hasn't served anywhere close to how she used to serve. And that's going to be really hard when you have such a big weapon and suddenly it's not out there, you can't rely on it as much. So that needs to needs to happen.

"Playing matches is the only way where you serve under pressure. It's easy to serve in practice, but not in matches in big tournaments."

Williams admitted she was gutted by her first round exit, even if it was "definitely better than last year".

"It definitely makes me want to hit the practice courts because when you're playing not bad and you're so close. I feel like that it's 'OK, Serena, you can do this if you want.'

"I think physically I did pretty good. I feel like in just those key points, winning some of those points, is something mentally that you have to have. I did pretty good on maybe one or two of 'em, but obviously not enough."

Williams admits she does not know what the future holds after her first round Wimbledon exit, but strongly hinted at featuring in this year's US Open.

"When you're at home, especially in New York, and the US Open, that being the first place I've won a grand slam, is something that's always super special. Your first time is always special.

"There's definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home."

with agencies

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