Serena Williams’ coach delivers verdict on greatest female player of all time

Serena Williams discusses naming her daughter

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Serena Williams is celebrating her 40th birthday this Sunday and remains a solid contender for Grand Slam titles 22 years after winning her first at the US Open, aged just 18. The 23-time Major champion is still hunting an elusive milestone of 24 Grand Slams to equal the record set by Margaret Court before the Open Era began, but her coach Patrick Mouratoglou has spoken out and branded the American the greatest of all time, noting the amateur-nature of the tennis tour from Court’s era of dominance.

Pressure to reach Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles has weighed on Serena since she won her 23rd at the 2017 Australian Open, claiming victory while pregnant, unbeknownst to everyone except her and her opponent – sister Venus Williams.

The former world No 1 was absent from the tour for more than a year following her victory Down Under, taking maternity leave as she and husband Alexis Ohanian welcomed baby Olympia in September of that year.

Since returning to competitive singles action at Indian Wells in 2018, Serena has been unable to win another Major title but come close, reaching a final at Grand Slam level on four occasions, at Wimbledon and the US Open in both 2018 and 2019.

Although many deem Court as the player to hold the most singles Grand Slam titles with 24, only 11 of these were won after the Open Era – something that has often led fans, players and commentators to deem her record inaccurate.

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As Serena turns 40, her coach and well-known pundit Mouratoglou has admitted he also believes the American will be the greatest player of all time whether or not she equals Court’s 24 Major titles.

“Margaret Court was playing at a time when three-quarters didn’t even go to Australia [for the Australian Open], where tennis was an amateur sport, when the draws were 16 players,” the Frenchman said when speaking to Eurosport about Court, who won 11 of her 24 titles at her home Slam, the Australian Open.

“I don’t mean to disrespect Margaret Court, but it’s another era.

“Yes, it would be better if Serena broke her record but, if she doesn’t, she will still be the greatest player of all time.”

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Mouratoglou, who owns a tennis academy in France and also works closely with the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Coco Gauff, also praised what Serena and Venus had done for the sport and opened up on the sisters’ legacy ahead of his players’ birthday.

He added: “She brought an athletic dimension that was not there at all, she opened the doors, with her sister Venus, to a whole generation of players because it was a white sport.

“She invented tennis intimidation because she has a presence that makes others fear her. For a very long time, it was impressive.”

While the French coach believes the world No 40 still has the fire to win another Grand Slam, he admitted that her priorities had shifted since giving birth to Olympia.

Serena was forced out of the final two Grand Slams of 2021 as she slipped on the grass courts of the All England Club during her first match at Wimbledon and had to retire after just six games, with the injury then keeping her out of the US Open.

The incident occurred straight after a match that saw Adrian Mannarino retire to Roger Federer after also slipping and injuring himself on the Centre Court grass, leaving many outraged that the 23-time Major champion was left playing on the same court to suffer a similar fate.

“She still has it,” Mouratoglou said.

“The question is how much she wants it and what is she willing to do to get there? Since she had her daughter, it’s harder. She has a lot of trouble not putting her life as a mother before her life as a player which is completely understandable.”
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