We certainly hope so and the fact that she’s made four finals in the last seven suggests her answer to that question is “yes.” But the goal to tie Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record of 24 wins, as of late, to be elusive for the Greatest Of All Time.
And many sports commentators and tennis pundits are beginning to express doubts she’ll break the record. In the same breath, though, they also say that whether she does or doesn’t tie Court, she is still the GOAT.
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Williams’ latest attempt to win No. 24 was thwarted at the U.S. Open by 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu (3-6, 5-7). Oh, Canada!
For Williams, who has been stuck on 23 Grand Slam wins since January 2017, it was her fourth loss in a row in a grand slam tournament final.
The other three were 2019 Wimbledon to Simona Halep (2-6, 2-6); 2018 U.S. Open to Naomi Osaka (2-6, 4-6); and 2018 Wimbledon to Angelique Kerber (3-6, 3-6).
Two years after the birth of her and husband Alexis Ohanian’s daughter Alexis Olympia, which was followed by multiple complications, Williams is reaching the pinnacle of grand slam tournaments – she just hasn’t been able to slam the door on the grand slam goal.
Williams hasn’t made excuses but has been honest that coming back after the C-section birth, the blood clots, a pulmonary embolism, surgery to repair her C-section incision and a hematoma, hasn’t been easy. These complications, which put her in bed for more than six weeks, could have killed her.
That’s a lot of stress on anyone, even as a pillar of power that Williams effectively shows repeatedly on the court.
When she lost to Kerber in the 2018 Wimbledon finals, 10 months after giving birth, she emotionally told the crowd: “To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried.”
Her return to tennis has been fraught with controversy and open frustration. Among them, her compression catsuit that helped with blood clots that have since been banned at the French Open.
Add to that Williams’ vocal dispute with the ref who gave her three code violations at the 2018 U.S. Open which unfortunately overshadowed Osaka’s historic victory in the final.
With every finals’ loss, whispers have turned to open talk about the record possibly being out of reach for Williams:
● “(This is) probably the first time I've had a question mark in my mind" about Williams getting to 24 Grand Slam wins. – David Law, co-host of The Tennis Podcast
● “I can’t imagine her playing past next year,” seven-time grand slam winner John McEnroe said after the U.S. Open loss.
● Bryan Armen Graham, a columnist for the Guardian wrote that “Serena is not going to break this record.”
Williams has said nothing about retirement but did discuss her frustration about her play in the U.S. Open final calling it “inexcusable.” She also praised Andreescu and said, “She deserved this championship.”
It was obvious another grand slam loss was weighing on her. "I'm not necessarily chasing a record. I'm just trying to win Grand Slams," she told reporters.
She recognized her failings and knows she still has a way to go and vows to continue the fight.
"I believe I could have played better. I believe I could have done more. I believe I could have just been more Serena today," she said. "I honestly don't think Serena showed up. I have to kind of figure out how to get her to show up in Grand Slam finals.
"All of it honestly, truly is super frustrating," she said "I'm so close, so close, so close, yet so far away.
"I don't know what to say. I guess I got to keep going if I want to be a professional tennis player. And I just got to just keep fighting through it."
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