sport news Serena Williams blows chance to reach 24 Grand Slams in US Open defeat by ...

Serena Williams had to wait nearly eight months for another Grand Slam opportunity, and now two of them have come along at once.

Yet you suspect that she has already missed her biggest, and perhaps final, chance to reach 24 Grand Slam titles.

After going down 1-6 6-3 6-3 to Victoria Azarenka in a high quality US Open semi-final she wasted no time in declaring that she would travel to Europe for the rescheduled French Open, starting later this month.

Serena Williams looks dejected during her US Open semi-final defeat by Victoria Azarenka

Serena Williams looks dejected during her US Open semi-final defeat by Victoria Azarenka

'I feel like other times I've been close and I could have done better. Today I felt like I gave a lot,' she concluded. 'I'm definitely going to Paris.'

The great American will turn 39 the day before the tournament starts. It will be a further reminder that the clock is ticking closer to midnight on her hopes of matching Margaret Court's tally of Major titles.

Williams had a lot going for her this fortnight, but was stopped by a stirring performance from Azarenka, who will now meet 2018 winner Naomi Osaka in Saturday's championship match.

Azarenka produced a fine performance to record a 1-6 6-3 6-3 win at Flushing Meadows

Azarenka produced a fine performance to record a 1-6 6-3 6-3 win at Flushing Meadows

Roland Garros will be far more difficult for her to win, especially given all the things in her favour in New York.

The most obvious of these was the absence of six of the top ten women, but there were others, including having the new Flushing Meadows Laykold surface laid on a court near her Florida home during lockdown.

Her scheduling during the tournament was distinctly generous. All of her six matches were played on Arthur Ashe Stadium and five of those were in daytime sessions, including being given the earlier slot for her quarter final.

Williams may never again encounter such a favourable route to a 24th Grand Slam title

Williams may never again encounter such a favourable route to a 24th Grand Slam title

As one of the eight players paying substantially extra for renting private accommodation she was even allowed more passes for her entourage to watch her matches than those staying at the official hotel. Providing they were in the covid-secure bubble they could exceed the normal limit of three, the USTA confirmed to Sportsmail.

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