Sun, Aug 28, 12:15pm by Jake Equid
It’s a big fortnight coming up for Serena Williams, not only is she favourite to win her 23rd grand slam which would be a record but she is also just one week short of Steffi Graf’s record of 185 weeks consecutive weeks as world number one.
Williams is well aware of her place in the history books and having just turned 35, understands that it is now or never. She loves playing on home soil and is aiming to win her seventh US Open. She meets Ekaterina Makanrova in the first round which will be an early test. The 36th-ranked Russian is one of the most threatening unseeded players and tends to play her best at the biggest tournaments. She has beaten Serena before at a Grand Slam, right here at the 2012 Aussie Open—though Williams hasn’t had problems against her since.
At this tournament last year, Serena was the three-time defending champion, but lost in the semifinals to unseeded Roberta Vinci. In doing so, Williams missed the opportunity to become only the fourth woman (after Maureen Connolly, Australia’s Margaret Court and Steffi Graf) to complete a calendar year Grand Slam by winning the tournament. It became obvious in the aftermath of that defeat that the weight of history was too much for the best player in the world, the best of her generation and probably of all time.
Twelve months later, Williams, who turns 35 next month, is still chasing Graf. She has at last pulled alongside her on 22 majors by winning Wimbledon in July but is still a week shy of the German’s record of 185 consecutive weeks at number one in the world.
One of the biggest threats that stand in the way of her making history is Agnieszka Radwanska who’s at $21. She may be the best player never to have won a major but it seems that the tennis gods have taken pity on her. She’s in what is easily the weakest quarter of the draw.
The top “early round” match on the women’s side could pit Petra Kvitova against Angelique Kerber in the fourth round. The German could wrestle the top ranking from Serena—who could meet Simona Halep in the quarters—if she advances far enough.
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