Serena Williams And The Numbers That Have Taken Her To The Verge Of Becoming Tennis’ Greatest

Serena Williams has reached the final of the US Open yet again
11:18, 04 Sep 2019

With a straight sets victory over Elina Svitolina, Serena Williams once again stoked fans’ hopes of her finally equalling Margaret Court’s long-standing record for career Grand Slams.

Is Williams on the precipice of finally, defiantly, confirming herself as the greatest women’s tennis player of all time?

The American has reached the finals of the US Open for the second consecutive year to continue to demonstrate her profligacy at Flushing Meadows. Aside from the times she has been unable to participate - in 2017 due to pregnancy, and a foot injury in 2010 - it means Williams has at least managed to achieve a last-four spot at the US Open in every season since 2008.  

She now becomes the clear odds-on favourite to surpass Chris Evert for most singles titles won at the US Open, in the Open Era. Both currently stand on six.

Furthermore, with a win in the final over Bianca Andreescu, Serena will finally achieve her 24th Grand Slam, matching the tally that Australian Court completed in 1973. Williams has been standing on 23 for over two-and-a-half years, since the 2017 Australian Open, where she extended her success in Melbourne to seven titles (yet another record in the Open Era).     

On the verge of turning 38 years old - currently ranked eighth in the world - she has dropped just one set this tournament, to compatriot Caty McNally in the second round. 

Poignantly, it will mark exactly 20 years since her first Grand Slam, achieved at the US tournament with a straight sets defeat of Martina Hingis.  

Williams’ understandably reduced tournament participation has almost put her sole focus on the Grand Slam tournaments. In 2015 she became only the eighth player to reach more than 700 career match wins. She’s now well over 800.

There is, however, another pessimistic concern on the horizon. Williams has reached her fourth Grand Slam from the last possible six. However, in each of the last three - two at Wimbledon, the other at last year’s US Open - that elusive 21st title has continued to slip through her grasp - to Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep, respectively, at the All England Club, and Naomi Osaka in New York for her maiden Grand Slam.

Surpassing Evert’s tally is yet another extraordinary record in an extraordinary career. She is already the first woman to win more than 50 career matches in all four Grand Slams in the Open Era; at Flushing Meadows alone, across the two decades of competing professionally she has now achieved Evert's record of 101 victories - one. Winning the final match of this year’s US Open will take Williams above, with it being just the third time a female tennis player has marked a century of wins at an individual tournament.  She tops the charts for most Grand Slam singles matches won, almost half a century more than Martina Navratilova.

What's more, should she best Andreescu in Saturday's final, Williams will extend her status as the oldest singles Grand Slam winner. She holds the largest gap between first Grand Slam final appearance and most recent final appearance at 19 yrs, 362 days.

Simply the best? We are privileged to have the match at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to find out.

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