Serena Williams’ Wait for Number 24: Fitness, Age & Challengers

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Serena Williams has been the most successful female tennis player of last two decades. The American legend is even referred by many experts and past players as the Greatest Of All Time or GOAT in Women’s tennis while there are few who call her that across both, the women’s and men’s game.

The former World Number one won her 23rd Grand Slam three years ago at Melbourne Park in the 2017 Australian Open. She was eight weeks pregnant at that time, as she moved ahead of Steffi Graf’s count of 22 Slams.

Since then, Serena has been chasing the 24th slam success which would tie her to the all time Women’s record of 24 currently held by the Australian great Margaret Court.

However, the chase has been proving difficult and for now, elusive.

We analyse the chances and challenges for Serena’s road to glory.

Encouraging Signs or Lost Chances?

After her Australian Open success in 2017 Serena did not play for next four slams due to her marriage and childbirth.

She registered a comeback at the 2017 French Open. The beginnings were tough but the legend gradually found her game. Serena has since then made it to four finals in the last seven Slams.

However she hasn’t found the mojo to cross that line.

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Serena lost to Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep in Wimbledon finals of 2018 and 2019. She also finished 2nd best to Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu at the US Open finals of the 2018 and 2019.

The American was eager to change the course of events in the Australian Open 2020, only to crash out in the 3rd round. That by itself was a shock loss to Wang Qiang, given she had routed the Chinese opponent at the previous US Open, dropping just a game.

Serena would now be hoping and preparing to touch Court’s illustrious record either on the clay of Roland Garros or on the grass of Wimbledon, where she has been three times and seven-time champion respectively.

Age, Fitness and Challengers

At the age of over 38 years Serena knows that time won’t be on her side for long. Recently her coach Patrick Mouratoglou also accepted that Serena’s team needs to accept some things are not working and thus re-invent or change her strategy.

At least a couple, if not more of those four finals losses have come to players who would not have stood much of a chance against her, when the legend was in her prime or before 2017.

In recent years has been forced to either withdraw or pull out from some matches. Even for an epitome of fitness, determination and dedication like Serena, an extremely physical game like tennis does at times raise health and fitness limitations.

Also, unlike in men’s tennis, there is a barrage of new players who have been not only knocking doors but also taken Grand Slam glory in past three years.

Jelena Ostapenko, Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu and now Sofia Kenin in the 2020 Australian Open is the never ending list of new Grand Slam champions.

Other talented players like Belinda Bencic, Coco Gauff and Qiang are also making strong inroads on the WTA tour.

All this makes Serena’s quest towards the 24th major a greater challenge.

Serena has however won 23 singles and 14 doubles majors doing what she has been doing on the tennis court. Her outrageous talent and iron-willed determination has many times deified age as Serena has been improving her own records of being the Oldest Grand Slam winner and World Number 1.

The chances may be slimming but the American has a strong body of work to take confidence from. We predict her to at least match Margaret Court’s great record by the end of season 2020.

Amir Rashid
About Amir Rashid 6 Articles
Amir lives in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. He has been a tennis fan from last 13 years and loves to convert his love for tennis in the art of storytelling. He thinks a tennis match itself has many life lessons in it.

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