FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her fourth round match against Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka REUTERS/Loren Elliott
MELBOURNE – Serena Williams wants to win more Grand Slams but hardly needs the all-time record for validation, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou said on Monday.
Williams is bidding for a 24th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, which would match Margaret Court’s record.
The American great has fallen short in four Grand Slam finals since winning the 2017 Australian Open but has another chance after reaching the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.
“Does she need that validation? I don’t think she needs that validation,” Mouratoglou told reporters.
“But clearly she came back to tennis to win some other Grand Slams, so that’s for sure the goal.
“Now, she’s not as obsessed with the 24 than most of the people in the tennis world, but definitely she wants to win Grand Slams. That’s the only reason why she came back to tennis.”
Mouratoglou said it did not really make sense to compare Williams’s record with Court, given 13 of the Australian’s Grand Slam titles came before the professional era, which started in 1968.
“We all know it’s two different sports,” he said.
“It’s an amateur sport and a professional sport.
“But it’s probably fun to talk about beating records, which is something that I understand.”
Mouratoglou said Williams at 39 was moving better than she had in three years on the court, and the team had placed a big emphasis on bringing back the “footwork” she had in the past.
“If you can’t move well, there is no Plan B. The only plan is attack. I think it cost her a few important matches,” said the Frenchman.
“We’ve been struggling those last years because she had a lot of injuries, so she was not able to practice the way we wanted,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a vicious circle because when you can’t practice well, you don’t get fit.
“Now we’re more in a virtuous circle than a vicious one.”
Tenth seed Williams plays second seed Simona Halep for a place in the semifinals. Halep beat her for the 2019 Wimbledon title the last time they met.
The Wimbledon triumph was only Halep’s second victory in 11 matches played against Williams but Mouratoglou saw it as something of a watershed for the Romanian.
“I think Simona played the perfect match in Wimbledon. It’s going to be a different process for her because she knows she can play like that against Serena, which she never did before,” said Mouratoglou.
“She will come probably with more confidence, and we’re prepared for that.”
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