Can Serena rewrite the record books at Aus Open?
Can Serena rewrite the record books at Aus Open?

Can Serena rewrite the record books at Aus Open?

For more than two decades Serena Williams has conquered tennis, swatting away expectant challengers with ruthless efficiency.

And don't you dare question whether that's still the case.

Forever, her best has simply been too much for her opponents. She overwhelmed all in front of her with brutal power and exceptional precision, a scary combination which has produced 23 grand slam titles.

When she's lost? More often than not it felt like off days for the GOAT of women's tennis, rather than a contest between two players at their best.

But now, for an icon of sport, but one who's gone three years without tasting grand slam success, the question is being asked: is her best still better than that of her rivals?

She was unequivocal when asked.

"I absolutely wouldn't be playing if I didn't think that," she shot back when quizzed on the topic.

 

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Serena Williams is looking to rewrite the history books at this year's Australian Open. Picture: David Gray/AFP

That's not a slight on Williams. To knock a champion - let alone one of her incredible standards - is a foolish play.

Should she win this year's Australian Open, she will tie Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam singles titles in history with 24.

But at 39 years old, life is different.

"I'm 39, right, I think? I always get confused. I don't look it," she joked.

"I don't know what it feels like to be that age. I just feel like me. I feel good."

But unlike in the men's game, where the chasing pack has been underwhelming for more than a handful of tennis generations and allowed all-time greats Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to stay atop the tennis world and hoover up titles, Williams has had to fend off waves off youngsters coming for her crown.

Australia's Ashleigh Barty, who won the 2019 French Open, was 18 months old when Williams made her grand slam debut at the Australian Open in 1998.

 

Aussie Ash Barty is one of a handful of young stars standing in Williams’ way. Picture: Michael Klein
Aussie Ash Barty is one of a handful of young stars standing in Williams’ way. Picture: Michael Klein

Osaka wasn't yet one, while Iga Swiatek, Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu, all grand slam champions in the past three years, weren't even born.

In that time, Williams has knocked off every 'generation next' that has presented itself - but never before has she seen a group of challengers quite like this group.

Since Williams's 2017 Australian Open win, there have been 11 different grand slam winners - Naomi Osaka has three, and Simona Halep two in that period, but there's a host of new faces.

"A lot of them have such a dynamic game, a lot of variety. Ash has such a good variety in her game. I think it brings a new level of tennis," Williams said.

Originally published as Can Serena rewrite the record books at Aus Open?



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