Serena Lost…to Serena

“And just like that, the Grand Slam chase is over… not by a superior opponent or a combatant who heroically raised the level of her play, but by the pressure that has been enveloping Serena Williams for months… Serena Williams didn’t lose to Vinci on Friday, she lost to herself.” C. Chase, For the Win

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Serena always the Champion waves as fans give her a standing ovation.Phot-

Serena always the Champion waves as fans give her a standing ovation.Phot-

Excerpt: How Serena Williams Blew her shot at tennis immortality...By Chris Chase, For The Win

“This was an ugly match, filled with errors, bad shot selection, crucial double faults and truly unforced errors. But Vinci was so new to it all that the pressure began going away point by point. You could see her getting more confident the more Serena unraveled… At that point the question became, could Serena pull herself out of that tailspin, as she had done time and again this year… In that way, Serena Williams…lost to herself.”

ESPN Tennis noted Serena’s loss “should not define” her incredible year: Friday was a bad day. But the bad news for the rest of the tour is that she Will be back to contend again.”

When talking about pressure, Williams often quotes Billie Jean King’s saying, “Pressure is a privilege. I have nothing to lose.”

“In 2016, she’ll be right, and with nothing to lose, Williams is poised to win, and win again.”

Serena Instagram

Serena Instagram


ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 1 hour.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. There was no superior opponent.
  2. The prize was tennis immortality.
  3. Serena was under crushing pressure.
  4. Vinci was a journeywoman playing in her first Slam semifinal.
  5. There  were many crucial errors during the match.
  6. You could see her getting more confident.
  7. Serena wanted to pull herself out of that tailspin.
  8. She desperately needed to win.
  9. Now the dream is dead, likely to be dormant for awhile.
  10. the Grand Slam is a feat that is difficult to accomplish.
Freeology Chart

Freeology Chart

Grammar Focus: Preposition Exercise

Prepositions: in, for, of, with, by, on, at, to, as, into, around, over, from, during,
Directions: The following sentences are from the news article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed above. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

The word choking was thrown ___   ___Twitter, but that’s not the right word here. Serena’s loss was the culmination ___nine months ___building pressure that finally reared its paralyzing head. You could tell ___Serena’s overreactions ___ points: She desperately needed ___win.

III. Post Reading Tasks

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

The following statement was  taken from the article. Rephrase the statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.

“Serena’s loss was the culmination of nine months of building pressure that finally reared its paralyzing head. In essence, this match was over the instant Vinci won that second set. You could tell from Serena’s overreactions to points: She desperately needed to win.”

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.


Category: no category