Evert & Navratilova On Serena
Published January 08, 2014 12:15
MELBOURNE, Australia - Serena Williams is about to begin her quest for another Grand Slam title. She already has 17 - five Australian Opens, two French Opens, five Wimbledons and five US Opens - and if she wins No.18, it would tie her for second place in the Open Era with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. We caught up with the legends to see what they think about Williams' possible 18th.
"I would be very excited," Evert said. "It's going to happen sooner or later. In the next few years if she stays healthy, she's going to win more than 18. She can get to 22 if she stays healthy and motivated.
"If she gets to 18, I wouldn't feel like she's in good company, but Martina and I are in good company."
Navratilova echoed Evert's sentiment. "It's just a matter of time before she passes us. Four or five years ago I didn't think she would get there, but the last couple of years she's really caught up. And I think she can go into the 20s the way she's playing and feeling - the sky's really the limit for her.
"Also, more power to her that she can keep doing it into her 30s. That's what's most impressive to me."
For both Evert and Navratilova, winning their 18th Grand Slam title wasn't just special, it was one of the most special moments of their career - Evert struck 18 at the French Open in 1986, while Navratilova did it at Wimbledon in 1990. Both WTA legends reminisced about those triumphs with wtatennis.com.
"My last two Grand Slams were very significant to me, because they were both at the French Open and both against Martina in the finals," Evert said. "They also came when I was not favored to win, and my doubters thought I'd never win one again. So they meant the most to me of any of my Grand Slams.
"Also going through the adversity and having more emotion as you get older, I had more appreciation of winning Grand Slams at the time. The first one I won, I was so young I didn't feel the significance."
Navratilova's victory at the All-England Club in 1990 set the record for most Wimbledon titles.
"At the time I didn't think it was the last one!" Navratilova said. "For me it was more about breaking the Wimbledon record - winning my ninth title there. The number 18 wasn't as big for me. I felt nine was the record that would never be broken. And with Margaret Court at 24, I knew I would never get to her.
"But for Serena, I think 18 will be bigger than how many Australian Opens she'll have."
At the risk of looking too far ahead, should Williams reach 18 in Melbourne, her next challenge would be reaching Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22, and then Margaret Court's all-time record of 24. But for that we'd have to wait until 2015 or 2016... We asked if you thought she could do it - and you spoke.