Former World No 1 Martina Navratilova shared her opinion on a Tennis Channel program, claiming that Serena Williams’ struggle to capture a 24th Major title is perhaps because she wants it ‘too badly.’
The 39-year-old Williams currently has the Open Era record of most Grand Slam titles won, when she beat Steffi Graf’s mark to increase her tally to 23 at the 2017 Australian Open.
Since then however, the American has come close, but repeatedly failed to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 singles majors. She reached four Grand Slam finals, but failed to win a single set in any of them.
On Thursday, Williams went down 6-3, 6-4 to third seed Naomi Osaka in the semi-final at the Australian Open, prolonging her search for the elusive 24th major.
“I think Serena knows she gave it everything she had. She prepared so well, she was playing well, moving well, everything was cooking for her, but she just couldn’t get it done,” Navratilova said.
“When you get nervous, your feet stop moving, you just can’t get them to go. And then the body gets in the way and then you make errors that you wouldn’t normally make.
“(She was) just too passive, but I think she’s just disappointed she did not play her best tennis when she wanted it the most. Maybe she wants it too badly.”
"I think she was just disappointed that she did not play her best tennis when she wanted it the most."
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) February 19, 2021
Williams’ had an impressive run to the semi-final. She beat the likes of heavy hitter Aryna Sabalenka and the tenacious two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep to get to the last four.
Against Osaka though, Williams committed 24 unforced errors against her 12 winners.
But Navratilova, an 18-time singles Major winner asserts that Williams needs to continue striving on.
“You just (have to) keep putting yourself in the position to win. She’s been so close – a bunch of finals, a semi-final,” the 64-year-old added.
“She did not play her best tennis when it mattered the most. Which is the opposite of what she used to be. She’d play lousy at the beginning of a tournament and work her way up and play her best tennis in the finals.
“Now it’s the other way around. And you have to think that getting older is getting more difficult for her to be consistent. And it means so much when you don’t play your best tennis.”