Serena ‘almost there’ in record pursuit
SERENA Williams hopes her famed determination can end the longest drought of her storied tennis career and lift her alongside Margaret Court as the owner of the most grand slam singles titles.
The American superstar said she felt relaxed two weeks out from the Australian Open, where her pursuit of a 24th crown will again be one of the dominant women's narrative in Melbourne.
Williams, 38, enters her fourth decade as a professional admitting that her role as a mother to two-year-old Alexis Olympia is a priority but that catching Australian legend Court continues to drive her.
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"It's meant a lot to me for a while and now it is just about getting over that one hump," Williams said in Auckland, where she will begin her year.
"I'm almost there, and I'm confident that I'll get there."
Williams will hope the Auckland visit is a good omen.
Despite a bitter early exit in her only other appearance in 2017, she went on to clinch a seventh Australian Open crown, becoming the oldest grand slam winner.
That was her most recent major triumph, the beginning of a three-year dry spell that has featured four failed appearances in grand slam finals - twice at Wimbledon and twice at the US Open.
The loss to teenager Bianca Andreescu in New York four months ago was her most recent match, leaving Williams with time to reflect.
"It was tough for me," she said.
"I really felt like I was close but I didn't really show up in those matches, and so I have to figure out a better way to compete in those."
Days after being named the Associated Press female athlete of the decade, Williams revealed how "normal" life was becoming for her.
She and her daughter had taken in some of the family attractions of Auckland last week, which was typical of her lead up to tournaments in the past two years.
Williams said she was compelled to return to Auckland, believing she wasn't herself three years ago, unaware she was in the early stages of pregnancy.
She had just announced her engagement to internet entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian but couldn't understand why she didn't feel happy.
After her second-round elimination, she launched an infamous attack on Auckland's weather and said she couldn't get to Melbourne quickly enough.
"It was windy, I was angry, I remember hating my now husband," a smiling Williams said.
"I was like 'I can't stand you and I don't know why'.
"Obviously at the time I didn't know why either.
"I was like 'it's something about your smell, I don't like your smell, I don't know'.
"I was six weeks pregnant and had no idea. Looking back it is just so surreal and crazy."
Williams will open her 2020 singles season against two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova on Tuesday.
She is schedule to play doubles with Caroline Wozniacki on Monday, the first time the long-time friends have combined professionally.