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Split hint dropped by Serena

Serena Williams

Rumours of a cooling of relations between Serena Williams and her coach-cum-partner, Patrick Mouratoglou, grew stronger on Tuesday after she issued a cryptic tweet underlining her independence.

“Me. Mine. Alone. Myself. I. One. Solo. Unaccompanied.” So read the message Serena posted on Twitter. She and Mouratoglou had been working together last week in Dubai, but then travelled to opposite sides of the Atlantic after her unexpected semi-final defeat to Alize Cornet.

Serena’s tweet may be something or nothing — and there was no response from the Mouratoglou camp — but it does fit in with the mood of a shaky season so far.

The world No. 1 started 2014 on an extraordinary roll, having won 32 of 33 matches in the second half of last year. But she went out of the Australian Open in the fourth round, after suffering back trouble, and then had to sit out a Premier-tier event in Doha because of the injury.

Cornet, the world No. 26 from France, is the lowest-ranked player Serena has lost to since her first-round exit to Virginie Razzano in the 2012 French Open — the defeat that sent her out to practise at Mouratoglou’s academy on the outskirts of Paris in the first place.

“I’m a bit embarrassed,” she said on Saturday. “I don’t think I have made that many errors in a match in three, maybe four years.”