ZHUHAI (China) • Tennis legend Steffi Graf said yesterday that Serena Williams can - "absolutely, yes"- break Margaret Court's Grand Slam singles title record when she returns to the sport.
Former world No. 1 Williams, who gave birth earlier this year, has already overtaken Graf (22) with 23 Major singles titles but has yet to surpass Court (24).
Court is renowned as the most successful player in Grand Slam history - the only player to win 10 or more titles at a single Slam - lifting the Australian Open 11 times between 1960 and 1973.
Graf, who spent a record 377 weeks ranked world No. 1, was speaking in Zhuhai, China, where she is ambassador for the WTA Elite Trophy tournament.
"A lot of it is determined on her drive and if that's what she wants to do," she said of Williams, 36.
Australian Open organisers said last month they were hopeful of a stunning return by Williams in January as they raised the winners' prize money to a bumper A$4 million (S$5.46 million).
Williams won this year's title at Melbourne Park while pregnant, and she has spoken of her "outrageous" plans to play there next year - just 41/2 months after giving birth to her daughter.
"It sounds from what I hear that she's looking to come back to tennis," Graf added.
"You know, everything that she has shown over her career just makes you believe that if she has that in her sights, then she will go after it and achieve it."
Germany's Julia Gorges won the WTA Elite Trophy yesterday after defeating American CoCo Vandeweghe 7-5, 6-1 in the final.
The singles field featured the best 11 who did not qualify for the Oct 22-29 WTA Finals in Singapore, with one wild card being awarded to China's top player, Peng Shuai.