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Opinion: Time is running out for Serena Williams to win Grand Slam No. 24 — and she knows it

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As she left the court after a comprehensive semifinal loss to Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams twirled around, took a long look at Rod Laver Arena and put her hand to her heart. It was the kind of slow, heartfelt goodbye that naturally leads to some questions when a tennis player is 39 years old and sees their rivals getting younger, faster, fitter and more confident. 

After yet another loss late in a Grand Slam to a young superstar, each one a bit less competitive than the last, Williams is running out of options and running out of time to sneak in one more major title. 

And she knows it. 

If we’re being honest, Williams’ 6-3, 6-4 loss to Osaka in the semifinals of the Australian Open wasn’t a passing of the torch because that happened several Grand Slams ago. The important issue here is whether Williams still thinks she can win these tournaments, whether deep down she truly believes she can get through not only Osaka, but all the other great young players that you have to beat to win the titles. 

Because if Serena doesn’t believe that anymore, what’s the point of being out there? That’s the dilemma every all-time great tennis player faces, playing a sport that is not only brutal on the body but requires immense commitment to remain at the highest level. 

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