Top-ranked Serena Williams has played down the history at stake for her in this year’s US Open but admits she’s on the verge of realising her childhood dream.
The 34-year-old American tries to complete the first calendar-year singles Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988 by winning the US Open, seeking her fourth trophy in a row on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts and her fourth major title of the year after Wimbledon and the French and Australian Opens – just like she imagined in her youth.
“My dream was the win the US Open and to win the Grand Slam,” Williams said. “It was just a dream. I never thought I would be close to doing something like that.”
Williams is an overwhelming favourite to collect her 22nd career Grand Slam title, which would match Graf’s Open Era (since 1968) record and move her two shy of the all-time record of 24 Slam singles titles won by Australia’s Margaret Court.
“There’s always another record or another person to catch up with or pass,” Williams said.
“I never thought I would be in this position, talking about catching Steffi Graf or to be mentioned with Margaret Court. I just wanted to try to do the best I could. I just wanted to compete and keep going.”
The six-time US and Australian Open and Wimbledon champion and three-time French Open winner says she does not see herself as the greatest player ever, saying comparisons over such different eras are tricky at best.
“I’m the greatest player I’ve been able to be,” Williams said.
“I do see the numbers. I do believe in those numbers. Different times have different champions. It’s really difficult to compare one generation to another. Things change — power, technique, technology.”
Williams claims that after completing her second career “Serena Slam” of winning four major titles in a row last month at Wimbledon, she doesn’t feel much pressure.
“Maybe if I go along a few rounds into the tournament I’ll start to feel it,” Williams said. “As far as now I really don’t feel it.
“I don’t have much at stake. I look at it as an opportunity to win and defend my title. That’s all I want to do.”