Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander said that it may be a struggle for Serena Williams to win the record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.
Serena, 38, was chasing history again at this year’s US Open but was beaten 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 by a resurgent Victoria Azarenka in the semi-final on Thursday evening. After the match, the American said that she will be competing at the French Open to continue on her quest for the elusive title.
Having won 23 majors, an Open Era record, Williams has failed to win a single Grand Slam title since her return to the tour after childbirth. Though she has made four major finals since her comeback, she hasn’t even been able to win a set.
“I think her dream is to win a Slam, I don’t think it’s the 24th title,” Wilander said on Eurosport.
“I think she knows she’s the best ever and I think she just wants to win again. I don’t think it matters to any of them – Roger (Federer), Rafa (Nadal) – not while they are playing anyway.
“Serena hates to lose, wants to keep playing because she enjoys the competition and life. Is she choking because she wants to win a 24th title? Or is she just not good enough anymore? That’s the big question.
“Personally, I just don’t think she’s quite good enough anymore. I don’t see it as choking because she’s been so far away from these finals and tournaments.”
The Amercian’s last major came at the 2017 Australian Open when she was already a few weeks pregnant. According to the 56-year-old Wilander, a former World No 1 and one of the most respected commentators in the sport, the younger players are catching up to Williams.
For two years in a row, at her home Slam, Serena lost to Grand Slam final newbies.
She faced the 20-year-old Naomi Osaka in 2018 US Open final and 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu in 2019, both of whom were playing their first-ever major final. And both ran away with straight-set victories.
“Serena isn’t as good as she used to be,” Wilander added.
“The rest of the field is better and they all feel they can beat her. She finds it tough to beat the better players 6-2, 6-2 anymore. The locker room now realises that they have a chance against her. She’s still very good, just not great anymore.”
Message from Mouratoglou
Meanwhile, Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou tweeted an encouraging message for his high-achieving ward.
“Thank you Serena for all those lessons of courage, dedication and fighting spirit you keep teaching to each and every one of us,” he wrote.
My message to @serenawilliams today.
— Patrick Mouratoglou (@pmouratoglou) September 11, 2020
“The journey you embarked on after giving birth to Olympia three years ago, is probably the one that best shows your character…and your uniqueness.
“That is why even though you are used to achieving higher results, you should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished in the last three years. I am very lucky to share this last journey with you and I believe in the future. The Quest goes on…”