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Sport

Serena heads to French Open with time running out for No. 24

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Serena Williams will have just two weeks to shake off the disappointment of a semi-final loss in the U.S. Open and resume her pursuit of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title on the claycourts at the French Open.

Sep 10 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York,USA; Serena Williams of the United States hits a backhand against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (not pictured) in a women's singles semi-finals match on day ten of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

The American great has remained one title behind Margaret Court’s all-time record since bagging her 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy at the Australian Open in January 2017.

Williams has lost four Grand Slam finals since returning to the circuit in 2018 following the birth of her daughter and once again fell short on Thursday when she bowed out to Victoria Azarenka with a 1-6 6-3 6-3 defeat in the U.S. Open semi-finals.

“I don’t know. I mean, it’s obviously disappointing,” Williams told reporters, before confirming that she would participate in the French Open.

“At the same time I did what I could today. I feel like other times I’ve been close and I could have done better. Today I felt like I gave a lot.”

Many pundits have said she might be running out of time to win a Grand Slam again.

It was definitely not getting any easier for Williams, who will turn 39 a day before the main draw kicks off in Paris on her least rewarding surface where the American won her third and last title in 2015.

Asked how the string of losses deep in the tournaments affect her morale as she strives to become the most successful women’s player, Williams said: “I don’t know. I just ... I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that actually.”

Williams had, however, started really strongly in Thursday’s last match on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court and cantered through the opening set with three breaks of Azarenka’s service.

“Then she just kept fighting. She just changed and started playing better and better. Maybe I took a little too much off the gas pedal at some point,” Williams rued, saying her opponent just kept improving through the match.

“I made a lot more errors. I didn’t win a lot on my second serves. I served well, but I didn’t dominate the way I needed to in that.”

(This story corrects to remove extraneous word in paragraph 6)

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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