LONDON: Wimbledon champion Serena Williams insists she can cope with the pressure of going for an historic calendar Grand Slam on home turf at the US Open.
Williams is within touching distance of becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four major titles in the same year following her sixth Wimbledon triumph.
The 33-year-old American recovered from a slow start to ease to a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Spain’s Garbine Muguruza that gave her a 21st Grand Slam crown on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) and made her the oldest woman to win a major in the Open era.
But Serena had barely finished parading the Venus Rosewater Dish around Center Court before her thoughts turned to New York and the tantalizing prospect of becoming only the fourth woman ever to complete a calendar year sweep of the sport’s top prizes.
”I did the whole walk around the court. I was peaceful, feeling really good, then maybe a little after that I started thinking about New York,” she said.
”I just thought, Oh, man, I’ve won New York three times in a row. I hope this isn’t the year that I go down. I want to do well there.
”I feel like if I can do the Serena Slam, I will be okay heading into the (calendar) Grand Slam.
”Like I always say, there’s 127 other players (in the tournament) that don’t want to see me win. Nothing personal, they just want to win.
”But I really don’t feel like I have anything to lose. I’ve kind of solidified my place at No. 1, so we’ll just go from there.”
During her Wimbledon run, Williams tried to insulate herself from outside pressures by refusing to answer questions about her successful attempt to win a ‘Serena Slam’—holding all four majors at once.
The six-time US Open winner acknowledged the scrutiny will be even more intense at Flushing Meadows, but once again she will try to focus on each match rather than the legacy-defining success at her fingertips.
”It’s huge. But I haven’t done it. I have the Serena Slam now, which is amazing. But, you know, it’s different to actually have something and then try to accomplish it,” she said.
”Of course I’m going to try to do the best I can, but I don’t have the Grand Slam in my hands.
”I can’t really feel that if it’s not there. Hopefully I’ll do well at the Open and then I can answer that question.”
Williams was pushed to her limits time and again at Wimbledon as she survived a treacherous draw that included showdowns with former world number ones Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and sister Venus.
”I’ve learned a lot. That I’m able to do anything I set my mind to,” she said.
”I had a really tough draw. This gives me confidence that if I had this draw, I can do it again.”
Serena’s latest triumph triggered accolades from across the sporting world, with some claiming the American should now be hailed as the greatest female athlete of all time.
Asked how much longer she can sustain her remarkably dominant run, Williams—who has a 39-1 record in 2015—sent an ominous message to her rivals.
”Overall physically I feel like I’m better. I feel like I can do more than I did 10, 12, years ago,” she said.
”I just keep reinventing myself in terms of working out, in terms of my game. It’s been working.”
And there is little chance of Williams, inspired by the expert motivation of her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou, being tripped up by complacency either.
”I definitely enjoy the ride, but I’m also not looking back. If you look back, it’s so easy to become satisfied and complacent. That’s one thing I don’t want to have,” she added.
”One day, if I ever retire, I’ll be like, Oh you did a good job. Right now I’m really into just continuing to be the greatest champion I can be.”