Insatiable Serena in hot pursuit of slam number 24 - again

Serena Williams is seeded third at the US Open, despite a world ranking of nine, after a raft of players withdrew citing concerns about travelling to the US during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams has been stuck on 23 slams since triumphing at the Australian Open in January 2017.   -  Getty Images

Serena Williams declared she is ready - yet again - to fight it out for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title when the US Open beings on Monday in a COVID-19 secure bubble.

The 38-year-old American has been stuck on 23 slams since triumphing at the Australian Open in January 2017.

Since then she has come tantalisingly close to tying Margaret Court's singles record, losing in the Wimbledon and US Open finals in both 2018 and 2019, and is determined not to give up the chase.

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“Obviously I'm never satisfied. That's been the story of my career,” Williams told reporters on Saturday at Flushing Meadows, where she claimed her first Grand Slam singles title 21 years ago.

“It's like I'll never be satisfied until I retire,” she added. “I'm never going to stop until I retire. It's just my personality.”

Williams's build-up has been rather laboured as she has been stretched to three sets in each of the five matches she has contested since action on the WTA-Tour resumed following the five-month COVID-19 hiatus.

 

She was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the Top Seed Open before suffering a last-16 exit at the Western and Southern Open earlier this week.

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Despite those long tussles, she said was not fatigued “in the sense of match play”.

Due to lockdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the US Open will not be the final Grand Slam of 2020. The French Open, which traditionally begins in late May, has been pushed back to start in late September.

“Normally you feel a little more worn in, ready to get this final slam over,” said Williams. “But it's not even the final slam any more, at least for this year. I don't really know how to feel.”

- It might be now or never for Serena, says Wilander -

Former US Open champion Mats Wilander feels Serena might be facing her last chance to claim a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open.

Williams is seeded three at the US Open, despite a world ranking of nine, after a raft of players withdrew citing their concerns about travelling to the US during the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down tennis for much of this year.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the Top Seed Open before suffering a last-16 exit at the Western and Southern Open earlier this week.   -  Getty Images

The likes of world number one Ashleigh Barty and number two Simona Halep are both missing and while threats remain such as the likes of Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova, Wilander thinks Williams cannot afford to let this opportunity pass her by.

“I think she has to win this one. If she doesn't I would think people, and more specifically she herself, would most probably doubt that she can win another one,” said the Swede.

“If she can win this one, I think it will give her some confidence that she can go on and win a couple more. If she doesn't win this one when only three or four out of the top 10 are there, I think that will be a blow to her.”

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No fans will be allowed for the fortnight and Wilander says the calm may actually help her quest for the big 24.

“Maybe no crowd helps her too. They are pulling so much for her that I think she gets caught up in the whole historical thing,” he said.

“I think she is going to come out and play fine. Is she the favourite? I don't know, not necessarily, there are a lot of young players who hit the ball as hard as her and are not really intimidated by her any more.

“But she is certainly in it with a huge chance.”

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