Serena Williams chases calendar Slam, history at US Open
The 33-year-old American, who captured her first Grand Slam title at the 1999 US Open at age 17, is a huge favorite as she tries to complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988 by winning her 22nd career major title starting Monday on the New York hardcourts.
“I decided I prefer to have that pressure than the pressure of not winning,” Williams said. “Not everyone can handle that pressure, but I’m OK with it. I would rather be in this position than another one.”
Still, there’s no doubt Williams is looking forward to seeing her designs in a New York fashion show a few days after the US Open.
By then, the Grand Slam bid will be over, win or lose.
“I’m ready. I’m so ready. I’m ready to get it over with,” Williams said. “I don’t care if I win or lose or break even. I’m ready to start it, get it over with, and be done and go on to the next event.”
Williams seeks her fourth consecutive US Open title after having won this year’s French and Australian Opens and Wimbledon as well as hardcourt events in Miami and Cincinnati, the last US Open warm-up where she defeated Romania’s Simona Halep in the final for a 69th career crown.
“It gives me confidence to know that what I’ve been working on these past few days and weeks has been going very well,” said Williams.
“It also makes me realize the feeling of winning. I like that feeling and want to do the hard work.”
Williams has won six Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open titles and three French Open crowns to stand one shy of Steffi Graf’s Open Era (since 1968) record of 22 Grand Slam singles trophies and only three shy of Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24.
Not since Graf won the 1989 Australian Open after her 1988 calendar Slam has a woman won five Slams in a row, as Williams could. Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’ coach, likes what he sees in his star pupil, especially her powerful serve.
“She has probably get the best serve in the history of the women’s game,” he said.
“Even when it’s not perfect, it’s still good enough to win. She has to continue to have faith in her serve.”
Williams, who opens Monday night against Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko, will be the US Open top seed for a fourth time, having already won titles as top seed in 2002, 2013 and last year. Second seed Halep could be the toughest healthy foe in Williams’ path. They can’t meet until the final.