It has been well over three years since we last saw Serena Williams lift a Grand Slam title. Serena was at the peak of her powers, as she has been throughout most of her career, and defeated her sister Venus Williams at the Australian Open. It was Serena’s 23rd Grand Slam title, making her a favorite to break or at least tie with Margaret Court’s record of 24 major titles the same year itself.
Not many would have thought that three and a half years down the line, Williams would still be chasing the record. In all fairness to her, she was also off the court for a long time during this period when she gave birth to her daughter Olympia. Since then, a lot has changed for her. Given the standards she has set for herself, Serena not winning a tournament that she enters comes as a surprise for many.
It’s not that Williams didn’t have her chance in the last couple of years. She reached four finals in the eight Grand Slam events she played since returning in mid-2018. She lost all four, and what was more surprising was that she did not win a single set in those finals. Williams lost to Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, and Bianca Andreescu in those finals.
Her chase for the Grand Slam record thus continues. The next stop is her home Slam – the US Open which starts from August 31. The question that will once again be at the center of all the talk come game time will be: can Serena Williams win her 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open 2020?
Williams is one of the favorites in every major event but has met her match in recent years at the Slams before she is able to lift the title. This year’s US Open, though, is unlike any other. Williams, the world number nine, will not have at least five of her top 10 opponents to cause her problems at the event.
Ashleigh Barty (No. 1), Elina Svitolina (No. 5), Bianca Andreescu (No. 6) who beat Williams in last year’s final, and Kiki Bertens (No. 7), and Belinda Bencic (No. 8) have all announced their withdrawal from the US Open. Her top competitors that remain will be Simona Halep (No. 2), Karolina Pliskova (No. 3), Sofia Kenin (No. 4), and Naomi Osaka (No. 10). This will be a major boost for Williams in her quest for her 24th Grand Slam.
Serena Williams has had the American crowd pumping her up every year and Williams loves using the crowd to her advantage. This year she will not have her fans in the stands as the event will be played behind closed doors due to coronavirus. This could also help some of the lower-ranked players to play without fear against Williams. They will not be overwhelmed by the atmosphere at Arthur Ashe Stadium. In the later stages of the event, some of the top players would also expect that Williams’ last four Grand Slam final defeats would somewhere play on her mind.
The US Open will have new court surfaces this year with the introduction of Laykold courts. Williams certainly seems to have an advantage there as she practiced on the new courts during the lockdown. The new court surface was home delivered to her last month.
The American superstar made her comeback to the Tour at the Top Seed Open in Lexington this week. She reached the quarter-finals where she lost to Shelby Rogers. But Williams sent a warning to her US Open competitors when she said she believes that she can play a ‘lot lot lot better’ going forward.
A Grand Slam drought tends to play on a top player’s mind but one can trust Serena Williams to not let it deter her at the US Open. So will Serena Williams finally win her 24th major? It will be interesting to see.