Can Serena Equal Margaret Court's Record at the 2019 US Open?
There is no doubt that Serena Williams will go down as one of the best female tennis players of all-time, while her legacy of being one of the most significant characters that tennis has ever seen has helped pave the way for upcoming talents such as Coco Gauff. But, the record of Margaret Court is becoming a burden on Williams’ performances on the court. Will she ever equal the Australian’s Grand Slam record?
Many believed that she was going to achieve that feat at the last Grand Slam. She was masterful in getting to the Wimbledon final, as she only dropped two sets to set up a final clash with Simona Halep. Williams was the outright favorite to conquer the Romanian, and very few expected to see what would happen.
It took just under an hour for Halep to dispatch of Williams in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. It was the worst Grand Slam final defeat of Williams’ career and was a sign that the talk of Court’s record hanging over her was beginning to affect her on the court. The American made 26 unforced errors throughout the match; which effectively handed the title to Halep. She wasn’t the same force that made it to the final, and despite her playing down the record attempt, she may have felt it could be one of her last opportunities.
Form Since Return
|2018 French Open||Fourth Round|
|2018 US Open||Final|
|2019 Australian Open||Quarterfinal|
|2019 French Open||Third Round|
The Australian Open success in 2017 remains her last Grand Slam to date. It was a remarkable achievement by Williams to win the title, especially considering that she was eight weeks pregnant at the time. Since then, her form has dipped. It could be a mixture of players improving, fitness concerns and regular injuries. Before Wimbledon this year she didn’t play in any warm-up competitions and instead opted to play in the mixed doubles alongside Sir Andy Murray to maintain her fitness. The tactic seemed to work until the final when she just ran out of steam when it mattered.
Her form in most of the Grand Slams since her return has been strong. Williams has made it to three finals out of a possible six since returning. But her performances in these finals have been completely contrasting to what we have come to expect from Williams when the pressure is on. There is almost like a block in her mental capacity that she can’t overcome. All three of these final defeats have come in straight sets, with Williams averaging 20 unforced errors. That is something that Williams will have to get over because she can’t win a Grand Slam with those stats.
The final Grand Slam of the season is fast approaching, and wouldn’t it be fitting if this was the one where she would tie the all-time record. The US Open is held in her home city, and her dominance at Flushing Meadows is almost unsurpassable. No other player has won more times in the Open Era than the 37-year-old. Her loss in last year’s final against Naomi Osaka came as a hammer blow, and her frustrations got the better of her on that occasion as she controversially received a penalty for a violation. The 2019 Grand Slam will give her a perfect opportunity to right that wrong from 12 months ago and could present her with one of the few chances that she will have of matching Court’s record.
The history that Williams has here will hold her in good stead. She won her very first Grand Slam on this occasion 20 years ago this year, and an opportunity to claim a 24th and match the record would be something that every tennis fan would want to see. Her chances are good, but she will be keen to avoid last year’s winner, as well as players such as Halep and Ashleigh Barty whose styles are difficult for Williams to deal with. If the form book is anything to go by, then she will be in contention at the business end of the competition, as she has reached at least the semi-finals in all the US Open’s that she has participated in over the last ten years. She is a legend already, but history can be made in New York in September if Williams brings her A-game.