Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Can Serena Make History at Wimbledon?
If Serena manages to get herself to the final of Wimbledon in the next eight days, she'll be on the brink of being recognized as the greatest female tennis player of all-time. Winning Wimbledon will put her level on 22 grand slam titles with Steffi Graf, putting her closer to that elusive title that she's rapidly chased over recent years.
When the day comes for Williams to put down the racket, the sport will have to wave au revoir to another one of its top performers. Tennis' most marketable player, Maria Sharapova, has recently been banned for two years after being found guilty of taking a heart-disease drug — despite it being banned since January this year — as it increases the capacity at which such athletes can perform.
The Williams sisters have dominated tennis at all the major tournaments. Although she has yet win a grand slam this year, Serena boasts an incredible record at Wimbledon and her first round win over Swiss qualifier Amra Sadikovic on Tuesday looked reasonable.
Critics will say Serena is still warming up, yet she dropped serve on one occasion and hit more unforced errors than Sadikovic. Delivering five double faults — including three in one game, her coach claimed it to be quite typical for a first round while players adjust to the contrast in playing on grass. Williams won with a comfortable 6-2, 6-4 score line to set up a second round tie with fellow American Christina McHale.
When asked about the elusive grand slam target, her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou claims the pair do not even discuss the matter. Whilst it likely sits in the back of the mind of Williams, particularly when prompted of late by journalists, Mouratoglou stated the pair focus on "the work we have to do." When asked if she was the best female tennis player of the modern era, he responded, "If you ask me whether Serena is already the greatest ever, I'd say yes, but I'm emotionally involved," finishing with, "The only way to stop that question being asked, and to end the discussions, is for Serena to beat the record."
This pursuit of excellent may explain the apparent vulnerability in Williams of late, with Mouratoglou stating that the pressure of getting closer to the 22 grand slam record was even greater now than it was two grand slams ago.
It's likely that the 18 wins and 3 losses over the past year may be playing on her mind, having been beaten in last year's U.S. Open semifinal and the two finals at the Australian Open and the French Open, respectively. Williams dismissed any hint of a stumbling block, stating, "I think more or less about winning Australia. I think about winning the French Open. Didn't happen. I think about winning Wimbledon."
Serena's sister, Venus, faces Maria Sakkari in the second round, which is slightly delayed due to rain.