Sport Tennis

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Williams set for mother of all records

Serena Williams in action during her semi final match against Germany's Julia Goerges. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Reuters
Serena Williams in action during her semi final match against Germany's Julia Goerges. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Simon Briggs

Margaret Court, who leads the all-time standings with 24 major singles titles, used to be known as 'The Arm' because of her unusual physical dimensions - her racquet arm was said to be three inches longer than that of a normal woman of her height.

What, then, should we call Serena Williams, who will match Court's record if she beats Angelique Kerber in today's Wimbledon final?

There are so many options. The Mind, because of her matchless ability to focus under pressure. The Heart, because of her extraordinary desire to keep testing herself against the best, even as a 36-year-old with a 10-month-old daughter.

Perhaps the best option is simply The Greatest. Win or lose today, Williams has no serious competition on the all-time list.

Court's tally is heavily reliant on her 11 Australian Open titles, yet this event was little more than a national championships in the early 1960s, with one or two regular visitors such as Brazil's Maria Bueno and Britain's Christine Truman.

Williams has taken a while to grow into her name. But Serena has never seemed serener than over the last few weeks.

This, remember, is a woman who used to erupt in unedifying ways.

"If I could, I would take this ball and shove it down your throat and kill you," she said to the lineswoman who called her for a foot-fault at the 2009 US Open.

Over the past couple of months, though, we have seen a new Williams: Serena without the side. Should Williams beat Kerber, she will become the first mother to win Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.

In an interview on the Wimbledon website before the tournament, Goolagong Cawley predicted that Williams would have a successful fortnight.

"I think she's capable, and I'm sure she'll be ready, because she's a strong woman and a great player, and she has a desire to come back and play,'' said Goolagong Cawley, whose daughter Kelly was three years old at the time of her second Wimbledon title.

"Maybe she'll now play for pure joy herself, like I did. I think it's more fun, because you'd go back, see Kelly and play with her - it just made me more relaxed and much happier." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Wimbledon women's final, live, BBC/eir Sport/Eurosport, 2.0

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