Williams, even more so than her sister, Venus, is one of the more frustrating tennis players of her era. Few have been as gifted as she is, yet motivation has always been an issue.
Fans shouldn't begrudge her for wanting to branch out from the sport. But if she's going to be on the WTA Tour, Williams needs to be fully committed. That's not too unkind an expectation.
2013 already started off with a bang, as she won the Brisbane International title, beating Victoria Azarenka in the process.
Williams will kick off her Grand Slam season next week at the Australian Open.
The tournament offers Williams a great chance at revenge. Last year, she was bounced in the fourth round to Ekaterina Makarova.
It was a poor result and was a sign of things to come for part of the season.
Williams started the year pretty slowly and reached her 2012 nadir at the French Open when she lost to Virginie Razzano in the first round.
After that, Williams could have lost the motivation to play and simply chosen to focus on her various side projects.
Instead, she became one of the most dominant players in the world, male or female. She won at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
In addition, her performance at the Summer Olympics was some of the most one-sided tennis anyone has ever seen. During the tournament, Williams failed to lose a single set.
She made Maria Sharapova look like an amateur. If you ever wonder why Williams gets so much hype, watch that match.
After her failure at the French Open, she managed to win five of the six singles tournaments in which she played. Williams finished with an astounding record of 58-4 (stats via ESPN.com).
Bonnie D. Ford of espnW.com wrote yesterday about what fans should expect from the player this coming season.
Ford spoke with U.S. Fed Cup coach Mary Joe Fernandez, and something Fernandez said was particularly alarming for Williams' competition:
"She's really worked on getting the ball earlier, taking it away from her opponent not only with power but with timing," said Fernandez, who predicted Williams could sweep all four Slam titles if she remains injury-free. "I think she's at her best not when she's blasting all the time, but when she's constructing the points and having that controlled aggression.
"She's fit, and more importantly, really hungry."
That lull that happened in 2012 won't happen this year. While focus has been an issue at times with Williams, that won't be a problem in the upcoming season.
Despite being the third-ranked player in the world, Williams will be the heavy favorite down under. Along with avenging the fourth-round upset, the Aussie Open gives her the chance to show that she's continuing to take tennis seriously in 2013.
Williams is only 31 years old. She might have had a very long career, but there are still a couple more years left for Serena to remain a top player.
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