For some reason, Venus Williams' loss to Flavia Panetta really kind of bothers me.
I'm trying to figure it out: Granted, Panetta's been playing her butt off this year (a couple of titles, some finals, a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open). But come on! We're talking about Venus Williams! A walking legend in the game and one of the greatest fast-court players of all time. Why does Panetta seemingly have her number with a 3-1 lead in head-to-heads?
I think why this bugs me is because I see this result as just a microcosm of Williams' career over the past few years: mediocre results against players that back in the early 2000s would be playing just to win a game or two off of her. I'll acknowledge the fact that obviously Williams has gotten a little older and she's been injury-prone, but let me throw this out there: How many players are out there with her physical gifts—particularly the size and the speed? A Venus Williams at 80 percent should be able to beat Panetta, unless Panetta's a solid top-four-worthy talent.
Did you know that since 2005, Williams has won only six titles? And among those six, three were Wimbledons? OK, so maybe grass is her best surface, but you know what should be the next best thing for her? Playing indoors, as they're doing in Moscow this week. Technically, this should be better for her since the conditions are truer.
I thought she'd be in the mix for the top spot by this year or next. She just beat Dinara Safina and lost a real tight one to Jelena Jankovic last week. I'm sorry: If you're capable of that, then Panetta shouldn't be able to carry your racquet bag.
All right, I'm done with my ranting: I'll give Flavia her props, but Venus! Come on!