125 1 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

NEW YORK Serena Williams can name every player who beat her.

"Oh, yeah," says Williams, who will play 17th seed Ekaterina Makarova in the U.S. Open semifinals today.

She smiled but not because she didn't mean it. Williams, who is 32 and world No. 1, started playing professional tennis nearly 20 years ago. Since then she has played 793 singles matches, losing 118 to 60 different players. All of whom she can name … Really?

Williams paused. "Probably," she continued. "If I sat down and thought about it, probably."

One of them is Makarova, a 26-year-old Russian with forceful groundstrokes and a calm disposition. In fact if Makarova defeats Williams today, she'll become just the second player to beat her in both singles and doubles at the same tournament. Makarova and Elena Vesnina beat Williams and her sister, Venus, in the doubles quarterfinals. Makarova and Vesnina went on to make the final, where they'll face Flavia Pennetta and Martina Hingis.

Hingis, a Hall of Famer who retired from singles years ago but started playing some doubles last year, is currently the only player to accomplish the aforementioned feat. She did it in 2001 in Sydney, where she and partner Monica Seles beat the Williams sisters in the doubles first round and Hingis beat Williams in the quarterfinals.

Hingis didn't realize this. Asked to guess the double winner Friday, Hingis came up with Kim Clijsters. Once informed she was the one, Hingis said, "It was with Monica (Seles), right? We beat them in Sydney. This I know, but I wouldn't know if I beat Serena in singles as well."

Now if it were a singles loss, Hingis might remember. That's going by Williams' words and also those of three-time Slam winner Lindsay Davenport. Asked if she too can name the players who beat her, Davenport said, "I'd get a very high percentage correct. I'd probably miss a few, but not many."

The Numbers

As expected Davenport is on Williams' list; her head-to-head is 4-10. The only players to beat Williams more than four times are Venus Williams (11-14), Jennifer Capriati (7-10), Hingis (6-7), Justine Henin (6-8) and Elena Dementieva (5-7). None have winning head-to-head records against Serena.

But there are some who do. Most played Williams just once: There's Annie Miller, Williams' first opponent (1995 Quebec City qualifying); Alexia Dechaume-Balleret (1997 Indian Wells qualifying); Mary Joe Fernandez (1999 French Open); Paola Suárez (2000 Amelia Island); Tiantian Sun (2005 Beijing); Virginie Razzano (2012 French Open, Williams' sole first-round Slam loss) and Jana Cepelova (2014 Charleston).

Among players who played Williams multiple times, only two have a winning head-to-head against her. That's right – two. Both are retired. One is left-handed Sybille Bammer (2-0). The other is Hall of Famer Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (4-3).

Which may explain what Williams said when asked to list a few losses she's learned the most from in her career. "In 1998 I played Sanchez in the French Open, and I really believe I should have won that match. I was up, and, you know, I didn't take a chance." It was a fourth-round match, and Williams lost 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. Sanchez-Vicario was No. 5 and Williams No. 27.

A more recent loss has also stayed with Williams: "Definitely I learned a lot from one this year. I'm not ready to talk about it yet, but definitely learned a lot from that."

She could be talking about a three-set loss to Alize Cornet in the third round of Wimbledon. Because it was Wimbledon, where Williams often plays her best, and it was her second loss to Cornet this year. Another possibility is a shocking 6-2, 6-2 loss to Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round of the French Open. (Serena lost to three other players this year – Cepelova, Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic. Walkovers aren't counted toward losses listed on player bios provided by the WTA.)

In all Serena has 675 career singles victories, more than any active player, but her 118 losses may be more impressive.

Thirty-three players in the women's draw have fewer losses. They are all at a different stage in their careers than Williams. Their average age is 20. The most matches won among them is 199 (Maryna Zanevska).

Surprisingly but maybe not so much – since players, seeded ones especially, have to get far enough in a tournament to lose to Williams – many players Williams lost to the most are the same ones she beat the most. Her sister is a good example. Venus beat Serena 11 times, more than any other player. And she lost to Serena 14 times, more than any player but one.

(The one is Maria Sharapova, who's an unhappy 2-16 against Serena. It may comfort Sharapova to know that the players Serena beat most are a who's who of tennis – at least the first 20 have won Slams or held top 10 rankings.)

Williams' career singles losses break out by surface like this – 67 on hard courts, 32 on clay courts, 12 on grass courts and seven on carpet.

The Players

If Serena can list all the players who beat her, many of them won't forget that they did.

Retired player Alina Jidkova is among the elite 60. She lost to Serena once and beat her once. It was at 2004 in Linz, and Jidkova won 7-6 (5), 6-2. Williams was ranked ninth, Jidkova 73rd.

"It was the biggest win of my career," says Jidkova. "When I tell people they don't believe me, I think. They always ask, 'Really?'And the next thing is, 'But you are so small and skinny.'"

Jidkova recounts it all. Being intimidated during the coin toss, making a concerted effort not to look at Williams, being in the zone to the point where she didn't notice "some random guy" kiss her after the match until someone told her.

"I think when she came out she didn't take me seriously," Jidkova says, "and I found myself up 4-1. Then she caught up fast. After that it was a battle. In first set tiebreaker I had a set point, and she gave me a short ball. I hit approach shot and went to the net praying to God she will miss the passing shot. And she did. I won 7-6. After that she called a trainer, but I stayed focused and won 6-2."

Makarova, who is 1-3 against Serena Williams, won her sole match 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round of the 2012 Australian Open. Where does the win rank? "I think it ranks high definitely – in top 3," says Makarova. "I leave maybe Fed Cup at the beginning."

Beating Serena

The day before Pennetta's quarterfinal against Williams, an Italian journalist asked Hingis what advice she might give her doubles partner. "[Serena's] a great champion, but I think Flavia played her many times herself," Hingis said.

When the journalist noted Pennetta lost every time, it seemed to be news to Hingis. She considered this before continuing. "Well, she just has to go out there, nothing to lose, play her game. Try to guess the serve obviously. Try to make her play as much as possible. I know it's difficult to dictate… but you have to try to impose your game."

Jidkova says the main reason Williams is hard to beat is "because she has so much power and she is feisty" and that when she's on it's hard for anyone to come close.

And that list of players Williams says she can fill out completely doesn't surprise Jidkova in the least. "No, because she didn't lose much when she really played," Jidkova said.

***

Players who have defeated Serena, and their records against her:

Venus Williams (11-14)

Jennifer Capriati (7-10)

Martina Hingis (6-7)

Justine Henin (6-8)

Elena Dementieva (5-7)

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (4-3)

Patty Schnyder (4-8)

Jelena Jankovic (4-10)

Lindsay Davenport (4-10)

Sandrine Testud (3-5)

Nadia Petrova (3-7)

Samantha Stosur (3-8)

Victoria Azarenka (3-14)

Sybille Bammer (2-0)

Alizé Cornet (2-3)

Francesca Schiavone (2-7)

Kim Clijsters (2-7)

Svetlana Kuznetsova (2-7)

Vera Zvonareva (2-7)

Amélie Mauresmo (2-10)

Maria Sharapova (2-16)

Alexia Dechaume-Balleret (1-0)

Annie Miller (1-0)

Jana Cepelova (1-0)

Mary Joe Fernandez (1-0)

Paola Suárez (1-0)

Tiantian Sun (1-0)

Virginie Razzano (1-0)

Aleksandra Wozniak (1-1)

Alina Jidkova (1-1)

Anna Chakvetadze (1-1)

Chanda Rubin (1-1)

Dominique Monami (1-1)

Garbiñe Muguruza (1-1)

Joannette Kruger (1-1)

Kimberly Po-Messerli (1-1)

Silvia Farina Elia (1-1)

Steffi Graf (1-1)

Virginia Ruano Pascual (1-1)

Yung-Jan Chan (1-1)

Jill Craybas (1-2)

Meghann Shaughnessy (1-2)

Nathalie Tauziat (1-2)

Sabine Lisicki (1-2)

Sloane Stephens (1-2)

Ekaterina Makarova (1-3)

Irina Spirlea (1-3)

Katarina Srebotnik (1-3)

Marion Bartoli (1-3)

Elena Likhovtseva (1-4)

Klara Koukalova (1-4)

Magui Serna (1-4)

Monica Seles (1-4)

Angelique Kerber (1-5)

Mary Pierce (1-5)

Dinara Safina (1-6)

Ana Ivanovic (1-7)

Caroline Wozniacki (1-8)

Daniela Hantuchova (1-9)

Li Na (1-11)

PHOTOS: Serena Williams' style on the court

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
125 1 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1rPS3y7