Serena Williams takes a lot of risks on the court, though her enormously successful results often mask the fact. But Williams’ powerful style means she has to be firing on all cylinders to avoid unforced errors; when she’s not the errors pile up because she rarely plays conservatively. In Williams 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-4 loss to world No. 72 Madison Brengle in Auckland this week, Williams committed 88 unforced errors in the strong wind.
A little rust is to be expected. Williams hasn’t played a tournament since the US Open in September. She’s still world No. 2 entering Melbourne for the Australian Open in two weeks, where she lost in the final last year to Angelique Kerber — currently No. 1 in the world. Even in the Australian Final against Kerber, Williams committed only 46 unforced errors. Kerber had just 13. Williams can probably beat a lot of players even making 60-plus errors. But 88 is a hard number to overcome.