Serena Williams could be facing her last chance to claim a record 24 Grand Slam titles at the US Open, according to former Flushing Meadows champion Mats Wilander.
American great Williams has been stuck at 23rd, one behind Margaret Court’s all-time record, since her triumph at the Australian Open in January 2017.
Since returning to the Tour in 2018 following the birth of his daughter, he has lost in four Grand Slam finals, including the last two at the US Open.
With his 39th birthday coming up next month, the window of opportunity is narrowing.
Williams is the third-seeded at the US Open, despite a world ranking of nine, after a number of players withdrew.
The players withdrew after citing their concerns about traveling to the US during the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down tennis for much of this year.
People like the world’s number one Ashleigh Barty and number two Simona Halep are missing.
But while threats, like Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova, persist, Wilander thinks Williams can’t afford to let this opportunity pass.
“I think she has to win this one. If he doesn’t, I would think that people, and more specifically herself, would probably doubt that he could win another one, ”said the Swede.
Wilander, who will be part of the coverage of the U.S. Eurosport Open with Barbara Schett from her groundbreaking Eurosport Cube, unveiled it when she previewed the major she won in 1988.
“If he can win this one, I think it will give him some confidence that he can go ahead and win one more pair.
“If she doesn’t win this one when they’re only three or four out of the top 10, I think it will be a blow to her.”
No fans will be allowed during the fortnight and Wilander says calm can help her on her quest for the big 24.
“Maybe no crowd will help her too. They’re pulling so much for her that I think she gets caught up in the whole historical thing, ”she said.
“I think she is going to go out there and play well. Is she the favorite? I don’t know, not necessarily, there are a lot of young players who hit the ball as hard as she does and are no longer intimidated by it.
“But he certainly has a great opportunity.”