Venus Williams

Top 10 Greatest Hits of 2012 – Number 9: Losing the U.S. Open but Gaining a New

Perspective (August 31, 2012) It was the 2011 U.S. Open when I had to withdraw because the symptoms from Sjögren’s Syndrome were just too severe, when I announced to the world that I was battling an autoimmune disease. So the 2012 U.S. Open seemed the perfect place to make the statement that I was back and still playing great tennis. And I felt it. Just two weeks before I had made it to the semifinals in Cincinnati, where I beat the number 3 seed and the number 7 seed.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out my way. I lost in the second round. It was really a case of I lost rather than I was beat. I made 16 double faults and 60 unforced errors and my serve was nowhere to be found. It felt like I was playing against my opponent and myself. After a horrible first set I fought back to make it close but it wasn’t enough. I lost 6-2, 5-7, 7-5. To make matters worse, Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters had announced their retirement at the tournament, so naturally after my performance everyone asked me about retirement too. I had to point out that even though I looked pretty bad it’s not like I was getting killed out there. I was just a couple shots away from winning.

I knew I didn’t get destroyed but I was pretty down on myself for that match. I had that match in the last minute but I didn’t even realize it because all I could think about were the things that I hadn’t done right. Looking back, I feel like I spent almost every match of the whole year being afraid of the things I wouldn’t be able to do. I had to deal with this fear of what I do when my tank is empty. It’s a terrible feeling to go into a match knowing you are not 100% and it is easy to be afraid. I had to let go of the fear because it is something I have to live with from now. Being afraid would just keep holding me back.

I stayed at the Open and watched the matches. I learned a lot watching Serena win the Open watching her overcome challenges and stay positive. I spent some time really trying to figure out what I can do better. A little while later a light clicked on in my head and I realized that I have to focus on the things that I can accomplish and not be afraid of the things I can’t.

This fresh perspective didn’t take hold right away. It took a couple weeks for it to settle in. The new mind-frame definitely contributed to winning in Luxemburg (more on that later) because it wasn’t easy to win that tournament. Through my loss in the U.S. Open I was able to gain something valuable and I am taking that with me right into 2013.

VW### To read more highlights of my 2012, click here.