Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

U.S. Open: Serena Williams 'pumped up' by defeat to Victoria Azarenka

updated 3:19 PM EDT, Sun August 25, 2013
  • Serena Williams will begin defense of her U.S. Open title on Monday
  • World No. 1 is seeking to become the grand slam's oldest women's champion
  • American says she is determined to bounce back from recent Cincinnati defeat
  • Her main rival will be last year's beaten finalist Victoria Azarenka

(CNN) -- Serena Williams has lost only four matches this year -- and the world No. 1 is hoping her most recent setback can help her become the oldest winner of a U.S. Open women's singles title.

The American is favored for a fifth triumph at Flushing Meadows, but this month's defeat by second-ranked Victoria Azarenka has given the Belorussian hope of avenging last year's final heartbreak.

Azarenka served for the title just under 12 months ago in New York, but Williams fought back to claim her 15th grand slam title.

She has since added another, at the French Open in June, but suffered a shock reverse against Sabine Lisicki in the last 16 at Wimbledon.

Williams added two more WTA Tour titles at Bastad and Toronto, but was upset by Azarenka in a third-set tie-breaker in the Cincinnati final.

Read: Why women 'owe' Billie Jean King

'Golden Bear' on tennis love
'Little Giant' aims for Grand Slam glory

"Every time I lose, I get so pumped afterwards," said Williams at a pre-tournament press conference Saturday.

"I just feel like now I'm ready, now I'm prepared. I almost needed that to take my game to a new level."

Williams will be 32 on September 26, and if she can retain her title in the final 18 days before that then she will surpass Margaret Court's 1973 effort of being the tournament's oldest woman winner.

"I have been able to keep up with the times," Williams said. "I'm actually serving harder than I ever have in my career. The racquets are stronger and I'm more fit.

"I feel so good, so healthy, so vivacious every time I step on the court."

Read: Shoulder blow for Sharapova

With world No. 3 Maria Sharapova missing the tournament due to injury, and Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli having retired earlier this month, Azarenka is Williams' biggest threat along with Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

Williams will face former French Open winner Francesca Schiavone in her opening match Monday, while older sister Venus plays Belgium's Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens.

King still fights for tennis equality
Secret to beating tennis' big four

Azarenka will begin the two-week event against Germany's grand slam debutant Dinah Pfizenmaier.

"You can always take the best out of what happened last week, so I will definitely take that into consideration," the 24-year-old told reporters Saturday.

"But the new week, U.S. Open, Serena, number one player in the world, defending champion, we all start kind of from zero here."

Read: Murray, Djokovic in same half of draw

In the men's draw, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will both be in action on Monday.

Second-ranked Nadal will face American Ryan Harrison as he bids to win the hard-court event for the second time. The Spaniard was champion in 2011, then runner-up the following year, but missed the 2012 event due to injury.

Federer, the champion five years in a row from 2004, will play Slovenia's Grega Zemlja as the seventh seed following a difficult year in which the 17-time grand slam winner has struggled with both injuries and an experiment with a new racquet.

Meanwhile, world No. 9 Petra Kvitova's U.S. Open preparations stumbled Saturday as the Czech lost 6-2 6-2 to Romania's Simona Halep in the final of the WTA event in New Haven.

Halep, a quarterfinalist in Cincinnati, followed up Friday's win over former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki to claim her fourth title this year.

France's Gael Monfils may miss New York after suffering an abdominal injury in the final of the ATP's Winston-Salem tournament.

The former world No. 7, now ranked 49th after a series of physical setbacks, retired at 6-3 2-1 down against Austria's Jurgen Melzer.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
updated 7:02 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
updated 7:01 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
updated 9:14 PM EDT, Sun June 22, 2014
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
Rafael Nadal is still the "King of Clay" -- but his crown has slipped a bit, says CNN's Will Edmonds.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
updated 7:59 PM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
British tennis player Elena Baltacha won 11 ITF Pro Circuit titles during her 16-year playing career.
The Ukrainian-born, British tennis star loses fight against liver cancer, just a few weeks after revealing that she was battling the disease.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis."
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
updated 2:00 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.