US Open 2019: I’d still be playing if I had slam record – Serena
Margaret Court’s record could soon be tied by Serena Williams, who indicated her pursuit of it is not her sole reason for playing at 37.
Serena Williams will have another chance to win her 24th grand slam and tie Margaret Court’s record for major titles, but moved to dismiss suggestions it is her sole reason for remaining on the WTA Tour.
Williams crushed Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-1 to reach her 33rd grand slam final, and will hope it is a case of fourth time lucky against Bianca Andreescu after losing on her past three appearances in major showpieces.
The American lost to Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon in 2018 before succumbing to Naomi Osaka in a controversial final at Flushing Meadows last year.
She was comprehensively beaten by Simona Halep at the All England Club but will be the heavy favourite on Saturday when she takes on teenager Andreescu.
Williams is the subject of widespread admiration for her ability to maintain her level at 37 following the traumatic birth of her daughter.
However, the question has been raised as to whether she would still be in the sport if she had 25 grand slams to her name.
Yet when that query was put to her at a post-match media conference, Williams was emphatic, saying: “I definitely would still be playing if I had already passed it [Court’s record].
“I’ve had so many chances to pass it and to have a lot more, but it’s cool because I’m playing in an era with so many – five eras with so many amazing players.
“If you look at the span of the career, the players I’ve played, it’s amazing that I was able to get this many.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the great Serena Williams…”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 6, 2019
Williams reached her first major final at 17, beating Martina Hingis in straight sets at the 1999 US Open.
Asked what her teenage self’s response would be if told she would still be playing 20 years later, Williams replied: “I would definitely not have believed them.
“At 17 I thought for sure I’d be retired at 28, 29, living my life. So, yeah, I would have thought it was a sick joke.”
Court and Kim Clijsters each won slams after giving birth, but Williams made it clear replicating that achievement is not her priority.
“I think it’s amazing to come back with a baby and win because it’s hard”, said Williams. “My day off isn’t a day off. I’m literally hanging out with baby, I’m doing activities with her. I don’t want her to forget me. I try to spend as much time with her.
“I’m a full-time mum first, foremost. That means the most to me. I train, and then I rush home. The other day I found a trampoline park I wanted to take her to. At the end of the day, that’s what matters to me, is just being there for my daughter.
“Being in a grand slam is difficult because it takes away a lot of time that we normally have together. At her age, she’s starting to really learn things. Her brain is processing things more. I want to be a part of that. I don’t want anything else to take that away.
“For me that’s what definitely matters most.”