Serena Williams at 40: A Living Legend Defying Time

Is Serena greater than Margaret Court?

Patrick Mouratoglou is one of them, not only because he has been with Serena for nearly a decade as a teacher and student, but also as a tennis analyst with many years of experience.

According to coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams is greater than Margaret Court. Photo: DM

“Margaret Court played tennis in a time when three-quarters of the players did not come to Australia (to attend the Australian Open), tennis was still an amateur sport, and each tournament had only 16 participants. “, Mouratoglou answered in an interview with AFP when asked about the greatest female tennis player in history (GOAT).

Court, born in 1942, holds the record of 24 Grand Slams, but half of them (11 times) took place at the Australian Open’s home ground, with the very clear advantages that Mouratoglou just mentioned. Of course, she also conquered Roland Garros (5 times), Wimbledon (3 times), and the US Open (5 times). But in the 60s and 70s of the last century, the field was not as diverse as it is now. For comparison, Serena owns 23 Grand Slams, including 7 Australian Opens, 3 Roland Garros, 7 Wimbledons, and 6 US Opens.

“I mean no disrespect to Margaret Court, but her time was a different era. It is true that it would be better if Serena broke her record, but otherwise she is still the greatest tennis player of all time,” Mouratoglou continued.

Serena, whose older sister is Venus – owner of 7 Grand Slams – and is still competing at the age of 41, last won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open 2017. The miracle is that Serena achieved that feat (beating her sister). Venus 6-4, 6-4 in the final) while… pregnant with baby Olympia without even knowing it. That is probably a rare feat in tennis history.

2018 season. Serena Williams returned to the tennis court after maternity leave, and within the next 2 years, she reached 4 Grand Slam finals. Unfortunately, she lost to younger players Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, and Bianca Andreescu. The 24th Grand Slam goal, therefore, is very close but also very far.

Serena just celebrated her 40th birthday, and coincidentally, that is also her current WTA ranking. Her decline in the world rankings is also very understandable: Since withdrawing in round 1 of Wimbledon 2021, Serena has not participated in any tournaments. Since the beginning of the year, she has only fought 18 matches with a record of 12 wins – 6 losses.

Serena’s legacy

“Serena is still hungry. But the question is how strong is her motivation, and what is she willing to do to achieve her goals,” Mouratoglou said of her student, “Since she gave birth, every things were more difficult. It makes sense that she would prioritize her life as a mother, not as a tennis player. I think that’s the main reason why Serena hasn’t won any more Grand Slams. For her, family is number one, but to do great things in a certain field, it cannot be the number two priority.”

Serena won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant with baby Olympia. Photo: DM

After losing four consecutive Grand Slam finals, Serena’s career continued to show signs of decline. She did not reach any more major finals and recently withdrew from the US Open – the tournament where she won her first Grand Slam in 1999 – because of a hamstring injury. The most recent of Serena’s 73 singles titles was at the Auckland tournament last January.

But if Serena cannot equal Court’s record, she still deserves to be recognized for her contributions to the sport, throughout her 26-year career.

Serena has changed a part of tennis history. The success of her and her sister Venus opened a new door for black tennis players, shattering stereotypes that tennis was a white sport. According to Mouratoglou, Serena has discovered a weapon called “intimidation in tennis”, where Serena’s mere presence is enough to make her opponent afraid. Surely many of Serena’s fans have not forgotten the match in the fourth round of Wimbledon 2007, when she was so injured that she could not even stand, let alone move, but still gritted her teeth to compete and then defeated Hantuchova.

Serena is also a pioneer in bringing business into women’s tennis. Before her, tennis business was quite limited, but after she emerged, it was completely different, because Serena herself was an extremely attractive marketing object. That trend continues with other tennis stars.

Serena’s will

Mouratoglou has coached Serena since 2012 and has witnessed her development, from physical to mental. He affirmed that in terms of will to win, in the tennis world, only Novak Djokovic – who is inferior to Serena – can compare to her, although in the beginning, she lacked confidence and was no longer herself at times.

Serena attended Wimbledon 2012 while ranked No. 7 in the world. After reaching the semi-finals, she went to meet Mouratoglou at the restaurant and smiled happily: “No matter what the result is, next Monday, I will be third in the world.” Response: Mouratoglou looked serious: “So what, I’m surprised that you think that’s a great thing, explain to me!”. Serena froze and did not answer him.

But that night, she texted the teacher: “I’m sorry for what I said. Third place, nonsense. The same goes for Monday.” And that summer, Serena played her best tennis. She won Wimbledon, US Open, and also won the London Olympic women’s singles gold medal after “destroying” Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 in the final. During the period from late 2014 to early 2015, Serena won 4 consecutive Grand Slams.

As a concluding note, let’s hear Mouratoglou share: “In 2013, Serena told me that she had not won Roland Garros for 11 years and wanted to achieve that goal. The result: She did not lose a single clay-court match that season. She won in Charleston, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, Bastad. Even Rafael Nadal has never done that.”

Serena Williams at 40 years oldCurrent ranking: 40Titles: 73, ranked 5th in historyGrand Slam: 23, ranked 2ndWin – lost record: 855 – 152 (84.9%)Number of weeks at world number 1: 319, ranked 2Number of consecutive weeks at world No. 1: 186, record (equal to Steffi Graf)Career prize money: 94,518,971 USD, ranked No. 1

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