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Serena eyes ‘bigger and better things’ after US Open drama

Serena Williams takes on sister Venus in an exhibition match in the UAE © AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Dec 27 – Serena Williams would not discuss the incidents that unfolded during the US Open final she lost to Naomi Osaka in September and is choosing to “move on to bigger and better things”, the American told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

In her first on-court appearance since that controversial final in New York, Williams lost an exhibition match to her sister Venus 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 in the UAE capital and will now head straight to Perth to compete in the Hopman Cup alongside her countryman Frances Tiafoe.

Asked if the US Open final is a topic she’d like to avoid as the new season kicks off, Serena said: “I don’t avoid anything. I just don’t have time to talk about that. I talked about it, everyone talked about it for months and months and months and it’s best to move on to bigger and better things.”

Bigger and better things are definitely on Serena’s mind as she admitted earlier in the day the significance of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles when it comes to her goals for 2019.

Williams twice missed out on a chance to tie Court’s mark in 2018, losing both the Wimbledon and US Open finals in the span of the last six months.

The 23-time major champion, who has played just seven events since her return from maternity leave in March, will be chasing history once again at the Australian Open in January.

“(The number 24) has always been significant since I got 22, then 23. It’s something that I clearly want but I have to be able to get there and beat a lot of good players to get it,” said Serena.

The 36-year-old looked in good shape in her tight defeat to Venus on Thursday and can take confidence from the high level they both showcased.

“My fitness, I feel like I’m pretty fit,” Serena said. “I was running and running and never got tired except for one point but then I got over it in 20 seconds, so I think that was really the highlight for me.”

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Venus Williams won her last WTA title in February 2016 at the Taiwan Open © AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE

Venus will begin her 2019 season at the WTA event in Auckland but will be without a coach having ended her 11-year collaboration with David Witt last month.

“I love everyone that I work with, and I still love them, so it’s just all love. I haven’t brought on anyone yet, so we’ll see what happens,” said Venus.

The 38-year-old wasn’t specific when describing what she’s looking for in a coach but said it was important “that they’re as easy as going as I am, that’s all that matters”.

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