June 12, 2021

Roland-Garros: Serena Williams or the impossible quest

By Elisabeth Pineau

Posted at 11:00 a.m. yesterday, updated at 3:53 p.m. yesterday

At 39 years and eight months, it’s been more than a quarter of a century since Serena Williams set foot on the circuit. The American, still firmly established in the world top 10 (8e), dispute son 18e Roland Garros. On Monday 31 May, she will have the honor of the very first evening session in the history of the tournament for her entry into the running against the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu (74e), neo-thirtieth, which makes him “only” ten years old when some of his opponents today would be old enough to be his daughter.

She herself became a mother in 2017. Despite the constraints of the very high level and the obligations linked to her status of “superstar” which has long since gone beyond the sole tennis framework, the former world number one prides itself on not having yet never spent a night away from her daughter. From the top of her 3 and a half years, little Olympia already has racket and replicas of her equipment supplier’s outfits, and has her own Instagram account, which 617,000 subscribers can comment on.

Serena Williams - here in training in Biot in the Alpes-Maritimes on May 5, 2021 - is chasing her 24th Grand Slam.

Since her return from maternity in March 2018, Serena Williams has appeared at each Grand Slam lifting with the desire to join the Australian Margaret Court as quickly as possible and her 24 crowns, conquered between 1960 and 1973. Even if the record of Grand Slams of the Open era (23, against 22 for Steffi Graf) is far more significant than the all-time record – which Court won straddling the “amateur” era and the Open era (when professionals and amateurs alike were authorized to play the same tournaments) -, the American wants to continue writing her legend.

“When I see her, I say to myself: but how does she do it? If only physically, after having had a pregnancy at 36 years old… The more we advance in age, the more it leaves traces ”, reacts Amélie Mauresmo, who comments the fortnight for Amazon Prime Video.

Serena Williams warms up before her training in Biot (Alpes-Maritimes), May 5, 2021.

Four losses in four finals

For two decades, the youngest of the Williams sisters (Venus, 40, is 104e world) almost dominated the head and shoulder circuit. Alas, for three years, despite four Grand Slam finals (Wimbledon 2018 and 2019, US Open 2018 and 2019), she stalls on the last step. A shame for a player who throughout her “first” career left little suspense, once she reached this stage of the tournament. Even if, paradoxically, these times of relative scarcity only enhance the scope of what it has accomplished so far.

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