MELBOURNE. – Motherhood may do little to slow Serena Williams’ pursuit of Grand Slam success but more hungry opponents, if they emerge, could yet deny her the all-time singles record, the woman who holds that distinction said yesterday. Australian women’s tennis great Margaret Court won 24 Grand Slam singles titles, one ahead of American Williams, who confirmed she was pregnant on Wednesday and will sit out the rest of the season.
Court, now 74, who straddled the sport’s amateur and professional eras, was also the first mother to win a major as a professional. She took three of those titles in 1973, the year after giving birth to her first child Daniel.
But she rejoined the tour at 31 while Williams would be 36 if she came back as planned in 2018, a difference Court thought might play a role.
“Coming back after Daniel I had one of my best years . . .(but) I was quite a few years younger (than Serena). And I think you’ve got to know physically what you can do and how you can do it. You put the baby first and that to me was everything at the time. But we’re all different.”
The only other mothers to win slams in the Open era are Court’s compatriot Evonne Goolagong and Belgian Kim Clijsters who were both 26 when they came back.
“I don’t know (if Serena can win another) . . . It will depend whether she still feels like doing it. It’ll depend on her,” Court said. “It depends who’s coming through, too.”
On that point, Court felt women’s tennis could still be at Williams’ mercy, given no players had emerged to provide a sustained challenge to the American’s dominance.
“There’s not the depth in the women’s game like there is in the men’s. It’s not good for women’s tennis which is a shame,” she said.
“It’s like they have one win and they think ‘well, that’s it.’ They’re made. It’s a bit sad in many ways. It was more open in my years with Billie Jean King, (Martina) Navratilova and (Chris) Evert-Lloyd.
” Williams’s “20 weeks” caption in a social media post on Wednesday suggested she was two months’ pregnant when she won her 23rd grand slam at this year’s Australian Open. – Reuters.