However, anyone who hoped to learn more about what Serena described as a “viral condition” left disappointed. Medical terms and diagnoses were strikingly absent from her remarks. “They (presumably the doctors) just said that I was really ill and under the weather,” she said.
Well, it’s a pretty long way from feeling “ill and under the weather” to suffering from a mysterious viral condition. Imagine the media frenzy if Serena had actually fainted on the court and bonked her head on the surface, as Victoria Azarenka once did (and in the U.S. Open no less). The networks with their satellite trucks would still be trailing Serena everywhere in an endless caravan.
You can see why, if Serena does have some viral condition, she wouldn’t want to make the information public, or give her rivals more than the scant hopes that’s all they ever had to cling to. Yet the very fact that just days after Wimbledon ended Serena was laying around in a bikini and taking in the sights on a vacation in Croatia suggests that whatever ailed her disappeared or went into remission pretty quickly.
Well, there are countless viruses out there, and new ones popping up all the time. And they all have different symptoms. So what could this one be? Without much to go on, we can speculate freely.
Serena could be suffering from the age virus, a condition that begins to inflict some players as their careers are winding down. Suddenly, they’re not so eager to jump into their tennis whites. Suddenly, they might find themselves feeling a little queasy as they look in the mirror and ask themselves, “Do I still have it?” Serena hasn’t made it to the quarterfinals of a major this year, and that degree of relative failure for an elite player can be a marker for this virus.
It could be the disinterest virus, which also hits players later in their careers. The general ennui that often makes a player wonder “How much longer do I need to do this $#$%?” usually manifests itself in subtle ways (like playing well but failing to win the critical points). But it can also make a player feel disorientated, listless, and tired — that’s the mind telling the body, “Hey, we’ve got a problem here and you need to pay attention to it.”
Or perhaps it’s the bummer virus, which really is just an indication of mild depression. It tends to hit people when life looks bleak, and often after a difficult emotional experience. Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena’s coach and (now) former boyfriend, told France's Tennis Magazine that despite rumors to the contrary, they were still working together but that Serena was going through "a difficult period."
Hey, wouldn’t you? But that’s none of our business.