Serena Williams Australian Open 2017

Serena Williams a ‘champion’ but for more than just her on-court dominance, Grand Slam icon claims

Monica Seles believes Serena Williams is a ‘champion on and off the court’ for both her illustrious career as well as breaking multiple barriers for women.

Back in 2017, 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams took a hiatus from professional tennis to give birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

Ten months after giving birth aged 35, Serena went on to stage a return to the WTA Tour. Despite not winning another Grand Slam since,  one that would have equalled Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24, she did go on reach four semi-finals.

She reached the Wimbledon and US Open semi-finals in 2018 and 2019.

In an interview on the BNP Paribas Open’s website, nine-time Major titlist Monica Seles said “selfishly, I really hope Serena comes back. I think it would be great to see her chase that record, kind of what we’re seeing with Rafa [Nadal], Roger [Federer] and Novak [Djokovic].

“As a former player, to me it’s just unbelievable. I would think it’s not possible. And they still keep going.”

When asked whether she felt Serena needed that ever-elusive 24th Grand Slam to be classed as the best of all time, Seles said “I think that’s a tough one because it’s so hard to compare different eras, different times in the history of the sport.

“She is one of the greatest. [But] who’s the greatest? I think they’re all truly great. For me, when I look at her [Serena], Margaret Court, Stefanie Graf, Chrissie Evert, Martina Navratilova […] these ladies are above by quite a few. That is an unbelievable record.

“I think also the barriers Serena was able to break were so huge off the court for us women. That she was able to have a daughter and come back to the sport is just fantastic to see,” Seles expressed.

“That has trickled down to someone like Victoria Azarenka, to lower ranked players.

“In terms of that, Serena is just a champion to me both on and off the court, [she’s] broken so many barriers.

“As a former player who competed against her, I would love to see her play, but I also understand the sport is not kind to us after a certain stage. It’s super competitive. It will definitely be a challenge for her to come back, but if anybody can do that challenge, that is Serena.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.