Much has been made of Serena Williams’ pursuit of Margaret Court’s record, but she doesn’t care about it herself.
Serena Williams‘ coach Patrick Mouratoglou says she is not obsessed with beating Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, despite being one away from the mark.
Much has been made of Williams’ pursuit of Court’s record after she claimed her 23rd Grand Slam title with a win at the 2017 Australian Open.
However, there are doubts over Court’s status as the greatest ever women’s player, given only 11 of her 24 Grand Slam titles came in the Open Era.
A 24th Grand Slam title has eluded Williams since she returned to the game in 2018 after giving birth to her daughter Olympia, with the legend losing in her last four major finals.
According to Mouratoglou, the fact that Williams already holds the record for most Grand Slam wins in the Open Era is validation enough in the GOAT debate.
“She’s not as obsessed with the 24 than most of the people in the tennis world, but definitely she wants to win Grand Slams. That’s the only reason why she came back to tennis,” he said.
“There is tennis before the Open Era and tennis after the Open Era. We all know it’s two different sports.
“It’s an amateur sport and a professional sport. Doesn’t make sense to compare.”
After being forced to withdraw from the second round of last year’s French Open, the 39-year-old Williams has looked noticeably healthier so far at the Australian Open.
While the decision to leave the French Open stunned the tennis worldat the time, Mouratoglou said it gave Williams a chance to break out of a “vicious circle”.
“We’ve been struggling those last years because she had a lot of injuries, so she was not able to practice the way we wanted,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a vicious circle because when you can’t practice well, you don’t get fit. When you’re not fit, you get more injured. We had to get out of this vicious circle.
“In Roland Garros she had an injury that could get really worse, and that would have been extremely bad. That was definitely the right decision to stop, to heal, and to start working hard because she was able after that to do the necessary work in order to get fit.
“Now we’re more in a virtuous circle than a vicious one. You have to start that virtuous circle by being fit, then everything goes better.”
Mouratoglou also added that work has been done on Williams’ footwork in order to allow her to get to more balls in lengthy rallies.
“It’s a sport where you have to be able to move fast from side to side and long enough,” he said.
“It’s something that probably in the last two, three years, this had consequences for Serena. Even more, when you’re not in a good day, you need a Plan B. To be able to have a Plan B, you have to be able to move well. If you can’t move well, there is no Plan B. The only plan is attack.
“I think it cost her a few important matches. So we have decided to find a way to bring back the footwork that she used to have in the past. I feel like she’s done a great job.
“So it’s a lot of little detail. Fitness is not a little detail, but the fitness one was one thing, then a lot of little details that make big difference.
“The ball travels really fast from one side to the other. If the split step is half a second too late, you lose one or two meters. It’s huge. It has to be extremely precise.”
While Williams is coached by Mouratoglou, he admitted that decisions such as pulling out of a tournament still lie with the player.
“The decision is taken by Serena, and it has to be her,” he said.
“The process is simple: we get all the information needed from the medical staff because they have all the information we need in order to take a decision, then we have a discussion, she and myself.
“At the end of the discussion, she asks me, What shall I do? I tell her what I think, then she takes her decision. It’s very simple. Of course, she takes the decision. Nobody else.”
Williams will aim to book her spot in the semi-final of this year’s Australian Open when she faces No.2 seed Simona Halep in the quarter-final.