How many Grand Slam titles will Serena Williams win in her career?
This question may be pricklier than it appears on face value.
In recent history we have witnessed a number of players go on a brilliant and sometimes unprecedented tear and then fizzle out, be criminally interfered with or chronically injured. The plight of these four ladies in the past ten years proves that making long range predictions is fraught with risk, and even the safest #1 can meet her match at anytime. Each woman met a different nemesis, but in the end the result was the same.
After the Australian Open of 1993 who would have dared predict that Monica Seles, winner of 8 of the last 12 majors would win just 1 of the next 40? So dominant was she that a deranged Steffi Graf fan felt the only way to stop her was to stick a knife in her back. Sadly, it worked.
After the tour championships of 1996, who would have predicted that Graf, winner of the past 6 Grandslams that she had entered, would win only one more grandslam before retirement, and this would come almost 3 years after her 1996 US Open championship. Knee surgery and constant niggling injuries meant that Graf was fully fit for perhaps only two months in her post 1996 career.
After the Australian open of 1998 who would have predicted that Martina Hingis, winner of 4 of the last 5 majors, and runner up in the other, would win just 1 of the next 20, including a 16 grandslam losing streak and the prospect of never returning to the game. Hingis' confrontation of bigger hitting foes, her own demons and stubborness conspired to end her Grand Slam domination.
And after Lindsay Davenport had capped a glorious rejuvenation by winning her 3rd Grandslam in 6 tries at the Australian Open of 2000, who would have thought that she would have 0 grandlam wins in the next 12 majors. Not only did she have a dominant GS record at this time but she also had a 5 match winning streak over her nearest rival - without dropping a set. Two knee surgeries have meant that Davenport, has not yet - and probably will never - regain her relentless precision hitting from the back of court.
At this point in time, one of the above ladies is retired, another may be permanently sidelined and the two others have only outside chances of adding to their tallies. So after each experienced their time of domination (For Graf the aforementioned period was one of three distinct periods of domination) that reaped a collective 22 GS titles, the quartet have only 3 grandslams between them.
And now we come to Serena Williams. Winner of the past 4 majors. Undisputed World #1. With this history in mind is it wise to presume that plain sailing will allow Serena to rack up numbers well into double digit figures? Or will other factors conspire to prevent Serena from joining the all time greats such as Court, Navratilova, Evert and Graf?
It would be wise to factor in some injury time, the possibility of Serena's level slipping at some point and a rise in competition. Of course, how many grandslams these factors will cost her is purely opinion. Whatever number you pick, choose carefully, because you are stuck with it. And as we have seen in a number of prediction threads that have been dredged up recently, archives can be a bitch