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Mother and Queen: Would a 24th Grand Slam title be Serena Williams’ finest?

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Just three women have lifted Grand Slam trophies as mothers; Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters.

Court was the first to do so, picking up three of her 24 titles as a mother. Goolagong is the first and only to win Wimbledon after having a child, while Clijsters is the 21st century Grand Slam-winning mom, winning two US Opens and one Australian Open.

Serena Williams is on the brink of becoming the fourth player to make this admirable list. She sits on or near the top a whole host of remarkable records, but joining this rarest of clubs could mark her finest achievement to date.

10 months on

The 36-year-old American is odds-on to overcome Kerber on Saturday at Wimbledon, in what is a repeat of the 2016 final – which Serena won 7-5 6-3 – and comes just 10 months after she gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia.

The predicaments during and after the pregnancy have been well documented.

“I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia,” Williams told CNN back in February, while she has been asked about motherhood countless times since, and mainly the challenges it poses while also looking to return to tennis’ summit.

“There was a time I could barely walk to my mailbox,” she admitted on Thursday, when she was reflecting on her semi-final win demolition job of Julia Goerges.

“A lot of people were saying, Oh, she should be in the final. For me it's such a pleasure and a joy because, you know, less than a year ago I was going through so much stuff.”

TENNIS-GBR-WIMBLEDON

Williams conceded it was difficult to summarise how she felt about playing in a 30th Grand Slam final. After all, the match is still to come, the title is still to be won, and there will be time for retrospection after.

Now is the time for focus as she looks to beat Kerber for a seventh time in nine meetings, but the distractions are plentiful…

Queen Serena has royal company

Serena’s Thursday press conference fleeted from records to motherhood to Kerber and back to motherhood, before naturally switching to royalty, with close friend Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex, set to be in attendance in the Royal Box on Saturday.

The BBC will fall just short of a special fan-cam red-button feature where you can watch the Duchess’ every reaction (we think), but get used to seeing shots of her during every changeover, and likely during the points too.

Day Ten: The Championships - Wimbledon 2018

But while the fixation will initially be with the royalty in the box, if all goes as expected, then it will be the one of the most regal of players the game has ever seen who eventually grabs back the limelight.

“If there was a Wimbledon royalty, I would like to believe I would be Wimbledon royalty because I’ve done pretty well here in the past,” Serena told reporters, and she’s not wrong, given she is one win away from an eighth Wimbledon title.

Already dubbed the Queen of tennis, Serena will soon have no one else to look up to.

Record-levelling win?

And so we come back to records, with Serena one away from matching Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. A feat which must have been playing on her mind this tournament, or perhaps not…

“To be perfectly honest, I haven't thought about that this tournament,” she said on Thursday. “Not even once actually. In fact, I've probably forget about it.

“I think that's a good thing because, you know, I put so much pressure on myself when I was trying to get to 18, then the rest, it was so much.

Day Ten: The Championships - Wimbledon 2018

"But as I said in the past couple years, I don't want to limit myself. I think that's what I was doing in the past, I was limiting myself.

“It's just a number. I want to get as many as I can.”

With 24 in sight, there’s no telling what number Serena will stop on. She joked earlier in the tournament that she will play for as long as Roger Federer does, and while she continues to compete at the very highest level, then why even consider retirement?

The fear for the chasing pack – who will be willing on Kerber to give them all hope – is that Serena is not even fully fit, nowhere near 100 per cent, and yet she is still in a final.

And with no plans to quit, there’s no saying what this number will end on. For the indomitable American, anything is possible.

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Topics:
Roger Federer
Serena Williams
Wimbledon
Tennis

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