New York: Serena Williams is taking nothing for granted as she vies for a third straight US Open title, which would put her alongside two greats of the game.
World No 1 Serena Williams of USA during the Arthur Ashe Kids' Day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
The 32-year-old once known for stepping up her game when it mattered most has thrice been thwarted in 2014 in her bid to join Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova as 18-time Grand Slam singles champions.
Although she has lifted five WTA trophies this year, she failed to make it past the fourth round at the Australian Open, French Open or Wimbledon. So she sounded wary of the suggestion that a return to Flushing Meadows, where she has won five US Open titles, would produce major number 18.
Slam No 18 isn't easy
"Yeah, Australian, Wimbledon, and French also could have been 18. Didn't quite happen," she said. But Williams was firing on all cylinders as she won two hardcourt titles in the buildup to the Open. Her straight-sets win over Ana Ivanovic in Cincinnati showed her dominant best.
It was a long way off Ivanovic's fourth-round win over Williams at the Australian Open, where the American was hindered by back pain. But back trouble, a second-round exit at Roland Garros, and the virus that left her weak and woozy at Wimbledon are all in the past.
"I'm in some of the best shape I've been in," said the World No 1. "I can play long points and be ready to go again. I feel really fit — 32 is the new 22, right?"