Williams the 'superhero' as more records fall

The pink sleeves on Serena Williams' new outfit are intended to evoke power and strength, as she strolled into the last 16 of the US Open with a 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Sweden's Johanna Larsson.
The pink sleeves on Serena Williams' new outfit are intended to evoke power and strength, as she strolled into the last 16 of the US Open with a 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Sweden's Johanna Larsson. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Serena Williams had an image in mind when she designed her current tennis outfit.

The fluorescent pink sleeves, she said, make her think of the superhero characters Wonder Woman and Superwoman.

It is an appropriate image for one of the greatest tennis players of all time, a player seemingly without peer as she topples one record after another.

The 34-year-old explained that the design of her sleeves - she wears black ones for night matches - was intended to evoke a character of power and strength who is also unafraid to exhibit a softer side.

There was little question of who she had in mind, although she acknowledged, with a satisfied nod: "It is me."

With her 6-2, 6-1 victory on Saturday over Sweden's Johanna Larsson in the third round of the US Open, Williams earned her 307th victory in Grand Slam singles events.

That carries her past Martina Navratilova for most by a woman, and ties her with Roger Federer for the most by any player.

Seeded No. 1, Williams is one trophy away from winning her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, which would break a tie with Steffi Graf for the most championships in the Open era. Margaret Court holds the all-time record, with 24 won in a career that spanned both the amateur and Open eras.

If Williams wins this tournament, she will break a tie with Chris Evert for the most US Open titles by claiming her seventh.

Williams said she had first learnt at Wimbledon that she was close to passing Navratilova, and it had given her a new goal.

"It is actually a really good feeling," she said on Saturday. "To be up there with both men and women is something that's super rare."

Her next victory, likely to come against Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova, would most likely generate more discussion about whether Williams is one of the best athletes, male or female, of all time.

She could meet her sister Venus in the semi-finals, after the 36-year-old moved within two wins of a possible showdown by beating German Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-2 to reach the fourth round.

Venus will meet big-serving, 10th-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova in the last 16.

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Williams the 'superhero' as more records fall'. Print Edition | Subscribe