Serena Williams: Will she make history at Australian Open?

Considering that successful her seventh Australian Open title two many years in the past even though eight months expecting, the American has remained 1 shy of Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam report of 24 big singles titles.

Some of her closest rivals consider she continue to has what it usually takes, but with the power and depth of women’s tennis vastly enhanced in recent many years, it will never be straightforward.

“She’s continue to Serena Williams, and she nevertheless has won 23 slams,” former French Open quarterfinalist Carolina Garcia explained to CNN Activity.

“A whole lot of ladies on Tour will be pleased to make two finals in a year,” stated the 19th-rated Frenchwoman, who has misplaced all a few matches she played from Williams.

‘Everyone is hungry for slams’

The Australian Open up, the season’s initial tennis key, starts on January 14 in Melbourne. Roger Federer of Switzerland and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki are the defending champions.

“She will probably be let down, but I believe she can continue to do it,” Garcia said about Williams, the 4-1 preferred for the women’s title with United kingdom bookmaker William Hill.

“But she has to function tough, like every person, simply because every person is hungry for slams. But I you should not think she has missing something.”

Back-to-back again key defeats

Williams, 37, returned to the women’s WTA Tour last March immediately after a 14-month maternity go away, all through which she underwent surgical procedure because of difficulties pursuing the beginning of her daughter, Olympia. Though Williams was the only participant, with the leading-ranked Simona Halep, to reach two Grand Slam finals in 2018, she misplaced them each.

Following achieving her tenth Wimbledon ultimate, dropping just just one set, Williams was surprised by Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-3.

Two months later, at the US Open, Williams appeared pretty a lot like her old self once more right until the final, exactly where she lost 6-2 6-4 to Naomi Osaka, a Japanese participant 16 years her junior, armed with a large serve that matches Williams’ individual.

After that defeat, which will eternally be remembered for Williams’ row with the chair umpire and accusations of sexism afterwards, the previous earth No. 1 ended her time early.

She commenced 2019 at the Hopman Cup combined group exhibition celebration in Perth, winning all three of her singles matches.

Stress — ‘Everything’s in the mind’

With the pounds of heritage on her shoulders, did it all become too substantially?

“I can see it a tiny from my standpoint, that she arrived back again, and she wanted to gain a Grand Slam, and she was very near 2 times,” two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova informed CNN Sport.

Williams argues with the referee during the US Open final

“Probably she put a lot of pressure on herself as well, as we saw at the US Open up, with all the feelings,” claimed the 8th-rated Czech, who staged a productive comeback herself in 2017 right after sustaining a probably job-ending damage on her hand in a knife attack.

“I assume it really is anything in the thoughts,” mentioned Kvitova, who was out for 6 months next the assault in her residence by an intruder. “It truly is tricky to arrive back and perform like in advance of, like you failed to have time off.”

‘A ton of working experience in finals’

Enjoying Serena Williams in a important tennis ultimate was at the time regarded an nearly unattainable task.

From the 2001 US Open up to the 2015 Wimbledon championships, Williams lost only four Grand Slam title matches.

But due to the fact Italian Roberta Vinci finished her historic quest for the calendar Grand Slam at the 2015 US Open up semifinals, the American has absent 2-4 in Grand Slam finals.

For Kerber, who has now defeated Williams in two of a few main finals, the key to beating the most prosperous participant of the Open up era on the sport’s major stages is to emphasis on your self.

“I have now performed her in 3 Grand Slam finals, and it is constantly of system hard to perform in opposition to her for the reason that she has this kind of a large amount of experience in the finals,” the German, who also defeat Williams at the 2016 Australian Open finals in advance of shedding to her at Wimbledon that very same 12 months, informed CNN Sport.

“For me, what I have learned in the final decades, is just to look on my side of the court docket, hoping to engage in my tennis, enjoy like I exercise, and take all the working experience that I experienced from my tournaments, my matches on to the massive phase,” she said.

‘I you should not concern her’

Although Williams has a 5-3 direct in excess of Kvitova, the 28-calendar year-old Czech has beaten the American the previous 3 instances they played, which include a 3-established clash in the next round of Cincinnati in August.

“To be truthful, I never panic her,” said Kvitova. “I played her in Cincinnati, she performed wonderful tennis, it was an astounding match. But, on the other hand, of training course, it can be continue to Serena. She’s a fantastic champion and when you deal with her, you always need to have to be organized for a genuinely tough just one. I assume if she is nonetheless there, she is going to win additional Grand Slams.”

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