Serena Williams is already widely regarded as the greatest of all time with a dazzling array of records, but one mark still stands in the way.
Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slam titles.
Williams’ 23 major titles are already more impressive considering the level of competition today compared to the 1960s and ’70s, but picking up that elusive 24th major title remains a goal for Williams.
Since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, Williams has made it back to three championship matches, although she lost all three in straight sets. Saturday’s loss to Simona Halep was the latest blow, although she’s far from defeated.
“When someone plays lights-on, there’s really not much you can do,” Williams said after Saturday’s match. “You just have to understand that that was their day today and hopefully they can play like that more often and more consistently. Hopefully, I can raise the level of my game sometimes.”
Clearly, there’s still plenty left in the tank for the 37-year-old Williams.
Williams has already entered uncharted territory. Her 2017 win at age 35 made her the oldest to ever win a major title, and she became the oldest player to ever compete in a final on Saturday.
But Williams is unlike any other tennis player; her endurance and power are what elevated her to GOAT status. Even while Halep thoroughly outplayed her at Wimbledon, Williams’ dominant strength was on display between unforced errors.
Time will only make it harder for Williams to pick up an additional title — or two — but it’s not something that Williams is outwardly concerned about.
“I don’t really think about it, I just go out there and play and see what happens,” Williams said. “That’s kind of how I’ve been my whole career. I never thought about time in general, but I don’t think it’s harder. I go out there and do the best I can do. That’s really all you can do.”
Williams may no longer be in her prime, but that’s still good enough for the No. 11 ranking in the world. Considering how she’s had to miss time due to injuries and the birth of her daughter — and the fact that she will likely rise after her performance — this is as impressive of a stretch as any for her.
Williams has looked especially strong on hard surfaces. She made the U.S. Open final last year, has qualified for two of the last three Australian Open finals and appeared in four of the last five Wimbledon championships. She’s already opening as a 17/4 favorite at the U.S. Open, which gives her an estimated 19 percent chance at winning.
But being a favorite is nothing new for Williams. Whether she wins her 24th and 25th Grand Slam titles, she knows her place in history and has great expectations for herself.
“It’s different now because in my 20s, I’m always expected to win, but it’s a different circumstance for me,” Williams said. “It seems like every Grand Slam final recently has been an unbelievable effort to get there. It’ll be interesting to see how it’ll be under different circumstances, so I can’t say that I have a lot of tension.”
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