Serena Williams won her last Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open when she beat her older sister Venus in the final while pregnant with her daughter Olympia.
That was more than three and a half years ago.
Since then, she has lost in her last four Grand Slam finals, including twice at the US Open.
Williams, who will turn 39 next month, is competing in this US Open, still has 23 major career titles and needs another to tie Margaret Court’s record.
“I’m definitely stuck here proudly, party of one,” she said on Saturday in a Zoom appeal ahead of the start of the US Open on Monday. “I’m pretty happy about it, but obviously I’m never happy. That was the story of my career, so that’s what it is. I took a year and a half off for a baby
“I will never be satisfied until I retire. I will never stop until I retire. It’s just my personality, that’s how I have to be here. “
Number 3 at the Open, Williams remains the betting favorite to win the title despite being only 3-2 in games since tennis restarted. Six of the world’s best women are skipping the event because of COVID concerns, leaving Williams theoretically better chances of winning.
She last played on Tuesday when she lost in three sets to Maria Sakkari at the Western & Southern Open in New York. All five games this summer have gone far. She stayed in New York and lived in a private household because she has lung problems and doesn’t want to risk contracting COVID.
“I don’t really know how to feel,” she said on Saturday. “I’m definitely not tired in terms of match play or even physically.”
Naomi Osaka, who beat Serena in the 2018 Open final and is the second favorite behind Serena this year, announced news this week when she boycotted her semifinals on Thursday in protest against racial injustice. Osaka then played the match on Friday and won it. She later said she wanted to make her old friend Kobe Bryant “proud”. Osaka pulled out of the final on Saturday, citing a left Achilles tendon injury.
“I think that was Naomi’s decision [to boycott] and if it was a good decision for her, that was what she thought was the right decision and that was her decision, ”Williams said. “It was good for you to come to that decision.”
On her bigger thoughts on what athletes can achieve by protesting against racial injustice, Serena said, “You all know how I feel. I just feel unjust[ice] I have different beliefs, more spiritual beliefs. “
As for her search for her 24th major, Serena is already the GOAT of women’s tennis in the eyes of many, although 18-time Grand Slam individual champion Martina Navratilova said this week the GOAT question is up for debate.
“If you’re just doing majors, you’ve got Serena,” Navratilova said on a Tennis Channel conference call Monday when I asked her thoughts on the matter. “If you go a different way, then it’s me or Steffi Graf, maybe Margaret Court. It just depends on how you want to measure it.
“But I think Serena just wants this record [of 24 Grand Slam titles] regardless of a GOAT status. For them it’s about this number. Now she obviously has a big chance at the US Open with a smaller field. “
If Serena can’t finish 24th in 2020, things will only get tougher at her 40th birthday in 2021.
“Everything becomes more difficult as you get older,” said Navratilova. “Everything takes longer: preparation, recovery, recovery from injuries, the nerves become disturbed as you get older and you slow down a little. No matter how hard you work, the speed is not the same.
“I know age is definitely in the way. It’s all about how well you handle it. “