LONDON (Reuters) - Serena Williams will be cheered on, albeit quietly and politely from the Royal Box, by her close friend Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex, during Saturday’s Wimbledon final but when it comes to tennis royalty, there will be only one queen on court.
“If there was a Wimbledon royalty, I would like to believe I would be Wimbledon royalty because I’ve done pretty well here in the past,” Williams told reporters on Thursday as she stood one win away from winning an eighth Wimbledon title.
If she does end up being crowned champion for an eighth time by beating Angelique Kerber in a repeat of the 2016 final, the American will win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title - drawing level with Australian great Margaret Court’s haul.
That really will make her queen bee, since no man or woman has won more singles Grand Slam titles.
So was she excited as she approached that possible coronation?
“To be perfectly honest, I haven’t thought about that this tournament. Not even once actually,” said Williams, who is back contesting a Wimbledon final just 10 months after suffering multiple complications following the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia.
“In fact, I’ve probably forgotten about it,” she added to a disbelieving audience.
“That’s a good thing because I put so much pressure on myself when I was trying to get to 18 (to tie the hauls of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova), then the rest, it was so much.
“I don’t want to limit myself. That’s what I was doing in the past, I was limiting myself.
“It’s just a number. I want to get as many as I can,
starting with... “
Where that number will end by the time Williams finally calls time on her career is anyone’s guess but the way in which she has surged through to a 10th Wimbledon final, and 30th overall in the majors, so soon after becoming a mother has been particularly pleasing for her.
“It’s no secret I had a super tough delivery. I lost count after like four surgeries because I was in so many surgeries. It
was just routine every day, I had to have a new surgery,” said the 36-year-old, who has been playing with flesh coloured compression tights as she bids to become the first mother to win the Wimbledon title since Evonne Goolagong in 1980.
“Because of all the blood issues I have, I was really
touch-and-go for a minute.”
That episode has left her with what she described as “the worst mom brain” but when it comes to playing tennis she is not one to forget her lines.
“A lot of people were saying, ‘Oh, she should be in the
final,” added Williams, who has not been beaten at the All England Club since 2014.
“For me it’s such a pleasure and a joy because, less than a year ago I was going through so much stuff.”
The 13-month maternity break has left her with a world ranking of 181, making her the lowest ranked player ever to contest a women’s final.
But that lowly three-digit ranking is fooling no one.
“I’m so in a zone in terms of just wanting to keep playing,” she said.
“Being here and having an opportunity to play is super great for me. I have to be ready for the match of my life.”
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Clare Lovell