Serena Williams sees Rogers Cup as Grand Slam launching pad
Originally Posted by Justin SW
Serena just gave Canadian media a conference call...I sometimes get the transcript...If I do I'll let u know. Couldn't get to it on time...
It's a numbers game. And Serena Williams knows it.
Officially, the top-ranked women’s tennis player has a 51-3 record this season. She has won seven tournaments and at one point went 34 straight matches without a loss.
But in numbers that might matter more to Williams, she is 1-2 — as in one Grand Slam title and two losses. As in two blown opportunities to inch closer to the status as the greatest player of all time. Williams will not admit it, but that is the way her mind works.
Ask her to describe the season, in which she has won 94% of her matches and built a 2,695-point gap in the rankings on No. 2 Maria Sharapova, and the word she uses is “decent.”
“Honestly, I would have preferred to do better in some tournaments,” Williams said in a conference call on Monday leading up to next week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto. “I need to do well in a tournament like Toronto to get ready for the last Grand Slam of the year and do really well there too.”
At 31 (she will be 32 after next month’s U.S. Open), the Grand Slams continue to be Williams’ priority. Her career clock is ticking. She is not exactly on her farewell tour, but as one of the older players on the tour, she acknowledged that, “I definitely cherish every tournament more. I cherish every win more.”
Some wins she obviously cherishes more than others. With 16 major titles, she trails Steffi Graf by six wins on the all-time list in the Open era and is just two behind Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Considering the diluted women’s field and the fact that Williams has won three of the last five Grand Slams — including last year’s U.S. Open — she should be able to catch Navratilova and Evert. But passing Graf presents a greater challenge.
Williams said, “I don’t know if I’ve peaked yet,” but time is obviously working against her. Graf was 29 years old when she won her last Grand Slam. Evert was 31. Navratilova was 33. If Williams is going to reach the top, she had better do it in the next couple of years.
“I don’t really think about the history,” she said. “For me, I feel honoured that it’s even in the conversation. I feel really good physically. I feel really good mentally. For me, the reason I started playing tennis wasn’t to be the best female tennis player ever or even to be in that conversation. It was just to be the best that Serena Williams could be, the best that I can be. That has my only goal.”
This year, despite a losing to an unseeded teenager at the French Open and an early exit at Wimbledon, Williams has looked like her dominant self. For three months — March, April and May — she was literally unbeatable, winning five tournaments, including the French Open.
Which is why the fourth-round loss to 23rd-ranked Sabine Lisicki seemed so uncharacteristic.
“That was such an astounding, absolutely monumental upset in women’s tennis,” analyst Tracy Austin, a two-time U.S. Open winner, told BBC Sport.
If, however, Williams was shaken by the upset she did not show it. The following month, she won a clay-court tournament in Sweden and comes to Toronto poised to defend her title. Regardless, the bigger prize awaits next month at the U.S. Open, where Williams will try to inch closer to Graf.
“I just want to keep trying to get to the top of the mountain and if I’m there, I want to stay there,” Williams said. “There are so many more tournaments I’d like to win.”