Game Game

‘Just getting started’ finalists Serena says

On the rise: Serena Williams on the way to a US Open semi-final victory over Anastasija Sevastova on Thursday. © AFP / EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ

NEW YORK, United States, Sep 7 – Serena Williams once again targets a record 24th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open on Saturday.

Win or lose, the US great says she’s just getting started in the latest phase of her career.

“I’m still on the way up,” said the 36-year-old, who is playing her seventh tournament since the birth of daughter Olympia on September 1 2017. “There’s still much more that I plan on doing.”

Williams came agonizingly close to matching Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 major titles at Wimbledon, but fell to Angelique Kerber in the final.

It was the high point of a return that began in March and has not surprisingly been, at times, erratic.

But once again Williams has shown she can rise to the occasion on the game’s biggest stages.

Another US Open title — four years after her sixth — would be not a culmination but a springboard, she said.

“I just feel like there’s a lot of growth still to go in my game, that’s actually the most exciting part,” she said.

“Even though I’m not a spring chicken, I still have a very, very bright future.”

Williams, who has spoken of the emotional roller-coaster of being a new parent, said adjusting to physical changes in the wake of motherhood has also been a challenge.

“I don’t feel like me,” she said. “My mom said it takes, like, a full year to kind of get back. I’m at a full year now, but I’m also laying a sport professionally.

“I just feel like I’m definitely not there. Even my body is different. I actually weigh less than I did before I got pregnant, but it’s distributed differently now.

“I’m still waiting to get to be the Serena that I was — and I don’t know if I’ll ever be that physically, emotionally, mentally.”

The players that have faced her so far in Flushing Meadows say the current Serena is tough enough — perhaps as good as ever.

“It’s tough to say,” said Anastasija Sevastova after Williams swept past her 6-3, 6-0 in the semi-finals. “She played finals in Wimbledon. She’s playing finals here. I think this year is not bad for her.”

Eighth-seeded Karolina Pliskova, who briefly rose to number one last year, fell to Williams in the quarter-finals, two years after shocking her in the semis.

“I don’t feel any difference,” Pliskova said of Williams’s game. “She’s playing with the same power. She can still serve well. I think maybe she’s back on the level where she was.”

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