Serena Williams remains in search of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, but former British number one Tim Henman believes drawing level with Margaret Court will be a tough ask for the US star.
Williams last won a major at the Australian Open in 2017 and has lost four Slam finals since then. What seemed like an inevitably has slowly begun to seem more improbable and the American’s task is getting progressively tougher.
Having been plagued with injuries this year, she reached the semi-finals in Melbourne, but could only battle to the fourth round of Roland-Garros and lost her opening match at Wimbledon.
Henman, who won 11 singles titles during his career, previously stated at the beginning of 2021 that he believed Williams had the physical capability to win another major.
Now though, he has conceded this belief was centred around her challenging at Wimbledon on her favoured surface. The 39-year-old is arguably the biggest hitter the women’s game has ever seen, but fitness struggles have rendered her unable to harness this power.
Having pulled out the Southern and Western Open last week with a leg injury, Henman thinks winning another major is too much of an ask.
Speaking to GiveMeSport Women, he said: “Going into New York, a big question mark is around her fitness. As has been the case with [Roger] Federer, she’s not getting any younger. So, whereas I did probably have that belief at the beginning of the year, I think it’s a step too far now.”
The former US Open semi-finalist also stressed that Williams’ physical decline has happened at a time when the rest of the women’s game is continuing to strengthen. With the likes of Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka setting the benchmark, Williams’ task has become even harder.
“When you look at it, there’s a long list of other great female players. The standard, the quality, the athletic ability of so many of them is just so high and I think the strength and depth of the women’s game is better than it’s ever been.
“You know Serena can absolutely still contend if she’s fit, but do I think she can win another Grand Slam singles title? Right now I don’t.”
Williams has been forced to manage her schedule carefully –– choosing to focus on majors and missing the majority of other WTA tour events.
Henman says the 23-time Slam winner recognises the importance of match practise, but stressed that it’s just not possible for her to put her body through that workload anymore.
“She’s been around long enough and is experienced enough to know that matchplay and match fitness is very very important. You can practice and train and do all that work as much as you like but there’s no substitute for tournament time and match competition.
“So in an ideal world, she would like to be playing a few events in the lead up to the Slams, but that just hasn’t been possible because of injuries.”
In truth, the odds do seem stacked against the American right now. Her fitness is proving more challenging and the competition is only getting stronger.
Yet, this will only strengthen her resolve and determination. And if anyone can do it at almost 40 years of age, Serena Williams is the one.
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