Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of 23 time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, says the 38 year old American does not want to only equal, but wants to break Margaret Court's all time record of Grand Slam singles titles.
Court has won 24 Grand Slam singles titles - the most by any tennis player in singles - and Serena currently stands one behind at 23 - having lost the last four finals she has reached at the Grand Slams. In an exclusive interview to TennisHead, Mouratoglou says, 'People ask me if Serena can equal Court’s record.
My response is that she doesn’t play to equal records. She plays to beat them. She never plays for a silver medal. She goes for gold – every time." The French coach says that Serena was not able to win her last few Slam finals because she did not show up in those matches.
"Serena returned to competition at the start of last year because she knew she still had it in her to win at the highest level. More specifically, she had her sights set on breaking Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
That’s why she rejected the easier life that would have come with retirement and that’s why she has worked so hard to come back. For those of us who have never played in a Grand Slam final it’s hard to understand what it must feel like.
The pressure must be immense. Just try to imagine, then, what it must be like to go into a Grand Slam final knowing that victory will secure your place in history. I can’t believe there is any greater pressure in sport than that.
People ask me whether Serena is playing enough tournaments away from the Grand Slam events. Of course, playing and winning matches can only give you confidence, but I don’t feel that a lack of confidence has been the problem for her.
You don’t win quarter-finals and semi-finals in the way that she has without feeling confident. Similarly, there has been no problem with her level of tennis going into these finals. As her coach I’ve given plenty of thought to what happened in those finals, because the way she played in them was in total contrast to how she had played earlier in each of those tournaments.
In the quarter-finals and semi-finals she had been destroying most of her opponents. In three of the finals, however, she simply never showed up." Mouratoglou adds that he is considering to see what they would do differently as a team for the upcoming Slams.
"Will we do anything differently next year? We will have to consider that, because we haven’t had the results that we wanted this year. I will have to think what I should do differently – not so much in terms of preparation, because I feel that the level of her tennis has been excellent, but in terms of her mental approach.
It’s always questionable to change something when you’ve been with someone for so long and have had so many good results together in the past. It might not have worked in the last four finals, but before that it had worked in 10 of the 12 Grand Slam finals Serena had reached since I began working with her seven years ago.
What we have to consider is that Serena is facing a new challenge at the moment, the last one of her career, and that we probably need to adapt and find a solution to it."