WIMBLEDON 2015

Ball is in serena's court

World No. 1 can set a number of milestones if she wins final against debutante Garbine

LONDON • Serena Williams insists she does not care about making history even though the world No. 1 can add more lustre to her legacy with victory over Garbine Muguruza in today's Wimbledon final.

As if winning a sixth Wimbledon title and 21st major overall is not enough to underline Williams' credentials as one of the all-time greats, she has a slew of other milestones within reach in her 25th Grand Slam final.

After demolishing Maria Sharapova to move into her eighth Wimbledon final, Williams - who has a superb 38-1 record this year - is just one victory away from holding all four major titles at the same time.

The last woman to achieve this rare feat? Williams in 2002-03.

A win over surprise finalist Muguruza, who previously had never gone beyond the second round at SW19, would also make the 33-year-old American the first woman to land the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back since herself in 2002.

Perhaps, most significantly, lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first time since 2012 would leave Williams needing only to retain the US Open to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to claim the feat of a calendar Grand Slam.

However, rather than dwell on those legacy-defining possibilities, Williams made it clear that the only reason she is in such a privileged position is because she no longer frets about her place among the pantheon of tennis greats.

She said: "I don't want the pressure of that. It's been okay just to free my brain. I've won so many Grand Slam titles. I'm at a position where I don't need to win another Wimbledon.

"I could lose on Saturday. Sure, I won't be happy. But I don't need another Wimbledon title. Getting to 18 majors was super stressful for me. I was so desperate to do it. After that, I'm just enjoying myself."

While coy about her achievements, she admitted her success is fuelled by a fiercely competitive streak that refuses to dim even at an age when many of her former rivals have long since retired.

"I really hate losing. So I'm that kind of person that will work hard, work harder than anybody else to make sure I don't get that," she said.

"I keep reinventing myself, always try to improve something or get better," she admitted.

Williams, the first woman to reach the finals of all four major competitions consecutively since Justine Henin in 2006, is heavily favoured to defeat Muguruza, a Grand Slam final debutante who has just one tour-level title compared to Williams' 67.

But there will be no complacency from the American when she steps out onto the All England Club lawn.

After all, in their last meeting at last year's French Open, it was Muguruza who emerged victorious, losing just four games in Paris.

Said Williams: "It's definitely not an easy match-up. She actually has a win against me. She's given me problems in the past. I don't think she's intimidated at all."

At 21 and the first Spanish woman to reach the Wimbledon final since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1996, there is plenty of youthful confidence radiating from Muguruza.

"Roland Garros will help me a lot because every time you play these important matches, you feel, 'Okay, I've been here before. I know what I have to do," said the 20th seed. "To have Serena in the Wimbledon final is the hardest match you can have.

"But if you want to win a Grand Slam, when you dream, you say, I want (to beat) Serena in the final."

But her family may not be there to witness her feat. "My parents, they're going to be in Barcelona watching me on the TV," she said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


WIMBLEDON

Women's singles final: Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 8.30pm

Men's doubles final: 10.30pm

Women's doubles final: Tomorrow, 12.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2015, with the headline 'BALL IS IN SERENA'S COURT'. Print Edition | Subscribe