NEW YORK -- Serena Williams isn't going anywhere.
Despite her shocking loss to Roberta Vinci in the US Open semifinals on Friday, the soon-to-be-34-year-old Williams shouldremain the dominant player in woman's tennis through the 2016 Rio Olympics and possiblyfor the next several years.
"She’s still the favorite to do it [win the Grand Slam] next year," Novak Djokovic said after Williams was stunned in three sets by Vinci, ending Serena's bid to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to capture the Grand Slam.
Vinci then went on to lose to her Italian compatriot Flavia Pennetta in straight sets in Saturday's women's final in a dramatic scene that was capped off by Pennetta announcing her impending retirement.
Who exactly is going to consistently challenge Serena for major titles over the next year or two?
She still doesn't have a major rival. Steffi had Monica Seles. Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova had each other.
Earlier in her career, Serena had true rivals like Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and Jennifer Capriati.
Now, not so much.
The No. 2-ranked woman in the world, Simona Halep, has never won a Grand Slam title and was dispatched in straight sets by Pennetta in the semifinals.
Maria Sharapova, the world No. 3, pulled out of the US Open with a leg injury and is 2-18 against Serena.
Victoria Azarenka, perhaps the person best capable of challenging Serena, has been bothered by injuries and is 0-10 against Serena in majors.
Meantime, three of the last five women to win a Grand Slam title not named Serena Williams -- Pennetta, Marion Bartoli and Li Na -- have all retired.
Yes, there are young challengers coming up like Madison Keys and Belinda Bencic, but they both lost handily to a Williams' sister at the Open.
Serena remains "stuck" on 21 majors, but reaching Graf (22) and then Margaret Court (24) seem eminently doable in the next year or two.
"At her age, she's still fighting," Djokovic said. "She's still committing to everyday practices and trying to perfect her game. She's very professional, and she's a great example of somebody that is a champion on and off the court."
Said Roger Federer: "She's done unbelievably well, she's had a tremendous career thus far, a great tournament. It just wasn't meant to be, honestly.
"We're lucky she's still playing tennis. Ididn't think she'd be playing this long, to tell the truth,and we should be happy she's still playing tennis."
The loss to Vinci was obviously stunning, but it also takes the pressure of the Grand Slam off of Serena, and you can bet she'll be extremely motivated to win the Australian Open in January.
After all, shehas still won four of the last five majors and eight of the last 14.
"I did win three Grand Slams this year," she said. "Yeah, I won four in a row. It's pretty good.Yeah, so it's definitely the positive."
The positive for women's tennis is that Serena isn't going anywhere just yet.
Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter @AdamZagoria for updates throughout the U.S. Open.