Australian Open: Serena Williams not clear favourite, says Margaret Court

Jan 14, 2019, 08:26 IST | AFP

"When you're young, you tend not to think about it too much," she said. "I won my first Australian championship when I was 17 and I had no nerves. As I went along... it became harder."

Australian Open: Serena Williams not clear favourite, says Margaret Court
Margaret Court and Serena Williams

Australian great Margaret Court has predicted nerves could undermine Serena Williams' bid to match her record 24 singles majors at Melbourne Park, clearing the way for an outsider to snatch the title.

She disputed the bookies' assessment that Serena is red-hot favourite to lift the Australian Open trophy for an eighth time, taking her overall Grand Slam tally to 24 and equalling Court's mark. "I think it's possible for Serena to equal me, if anybody's going do it, it's Serena, but I don't think there's a clear-cut favourite," Court said. "I think it's a pretty open tournament and I think an outsider can win it."

Williams, 37, has won 23 singles Grand Slams since 1999 — seven Australian Opens, three French Opens, seven Wimbledons and six US Opens. Court, now 76, won 24 singles Grand Slams from 1960-73 — 11 Australian Opens, five French Opens, three Wimbledons and five US Opens.

However, 13 of Court's titles came before 1968, when the women's game entered the Open era and became fully professional. For that reason many pundits, including 18-time Slam champion Chris Evert, believe Williams is already the greatest of all time. Another win at Melbourne Park would settle the argument once and for all, but Court said the American no longer had the fearlessness of youth on her side.

"When you're young, you tend not to think about it too much," she said. "I won my first Australian championship when I was 17 and I had no nerves. As I went along... it became harder."

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