Serena Williams won her 17th Grand Slam title by capturing the US Open on Sunday, closing in on the all-time record of 24 by Margaret Court and 22 by Steffi Graf.
But the powerful American needs to more than merely overhaul those legends to be considered the greatest ever, says Rob Seward, head coach at the Cayman Islands Tennis Club in South Sound.
“Serena is playing the best tennis of her career and should be placed on the short list as one of the best,” said Seward.
“But she is not the greatest yet. Court didn’t have stiff competition, but Graf got her Grand Slams when there were other greats around like Martina Navratilova, Gabriela Sabatini and Chrissie Evert.”
Williams turns 32 in a couple of weeks and after beating the Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in three sets at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium declared she feels fine and intends to continue for a few more years.
Linking up with her new coach, the Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou, has rejuvenated both Williams’s tennis and her love life as they are now an item.
Williams had a long spell of injury and serious illness a couple of years ago, but she bounced back and lost only a handful of matches this year. She took the French Open but missed out on the Australian Open and Wimbledon and will be focused on winning all four Grand Slams in 2014.
“It’s great that Serena is over 30 and still striving to be the best,” Seward said. “That is phenomenal. She seems to have a new love for the game, and as an American I’m pleased that she is representing America. There doesn’t seem to be anyone up there at the moment.
“No juniors coming through. Life is easier in the U.S. and juniors are not hungry enough. It’s the same in the U.K.”