Former World No.1 and 23-time Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams, is excited about the prospect of the US Open going ahead this summer, albeit with coronavirus-mandated edicts in place.
In a conference call Wednesday, Serena Williams confirmed her intention to compete at the 2020 US Open, when the main draw event gets underway on 31 August at Flushing Meadows. Adding she’s “excited” about the prospect, even if the stadium will be completely devoid of any fans to spur her on to victory.
Currently ranked World No.9, Serena Williams has her sights set on a 24th Grand Slam title, which would see her equal all-time Grand Slam champion Margaret Court in the history books. And according to bookmakers, Williams is one of the players to spot.
However, Serena Williams isn’t THE odds-on favorite at the time of writing. That domain belongs to Romania’s Simona Halep, who is the current World No.2 and tipped as the favorite with a slew of top-notch bookmakers according to SBR.
Since Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open, right before she revealed she was pregnant, she’s been sitting on the cusp of leveling Margaret Court’s four-decade-long record. However, upon returning to the WTA Tour from giving birth to her daughter Olympia, Serena Williams earned her fair few cracks at a historic 24th major title, only to be found wanting.
Four major finals came and went without a trademark Serena Williams victory – twice at Wimbledon and twice at the US Open.
In 2018, in her first attempt at a historic 24th title, Serena Williams was beaten by Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3. A year later at all England Club – her third crack at the landmark – she suffered a stunning defeat to SimonaHalep 6-2, 6-2.
At the 2018 US Open, Naomi Osaka demolished Serena in the final 6-2, 6-4. It was Serena’s second attempt at reaching the milestone and it didn’t go without some controversy. A year later at Flushing Meadows – her fourth attempt – Canada’s rising star, Bianca Andreescu, delivered Serena’s most recent major title defeat, 6-3, 7-5. Then, 19-years of age, Andreescu thoroughly outplayed and outmuscled Serena despite the close score-line.
On the heels of Serena’s second straight defeat at her home slam, tennis’ punditocracy and experts started to doubt her ability to break the Grand Slam record held by Margaret Court since 1973. After all, Serena Williams is no spring chicken and with the evolution of the women’s game opportunities are sure to become few and far in between.
That doubt further intensified earlier this year when China’s Wang Qiang masterminded a stunning upset over Serena Williams Down Under. Wang, who lost to Serena only five months earlier at the US Open (6-1, 6-0), defeated Serena 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 in the third round.
It marked Serena’s earliest exit from the Australian Open – a tournament she’s won seven times – since 2006, and afterward Serena dispelled any notion that her age was a factor.
Serena Williams turns 39 years of age in September of this year, right after the conclusion of the US Open. Although her status as one of the greatest female tennis players in the history of the game is never going to be in doubt, whether she can compete for more major titles is debatable. Not least of all, the global pandemic, seemingly erupting out of nowhere and turning life upside down, has certainly put a spanner in the works.
No country is unaffected by the novel coronavirus, no industry or business or sport. The new norm that includes social distancing and bans on mass gatherings is going to have an impact on tennis and on the US Open – when and if it does indeed get underway.
Before taking a brief break from tennis to give birth to Olympia, tennis fans would have been hard-pressed to find anyone that doubted Serena. She looked all but certain to crack the 24-major-title mark – she’d won at least one Grand Slam event since 2011. Since her loss at the US Open followed by her untimely demise Down Under, the tone has certainly changed. It seems so close, and yet so far away.