Former World No.1 and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams still sees big things for herself on the tennis court, achievements even greater than those already in the history books.
"Margaret Court has 24, but why would I want to reach for that when there’s more?" Serena asked in a chat with Barry Ritholtz on the Bloomberg Business radio show, Masters in Business.
The interview, conducted in January during the 2018 Australian Open, Williams discussed the perils of reducing Grand Slam success to a number, recalling her struggle to tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in 2014.
"18 was my first goal because Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova both had 18 grand slams each. I had 17 at the time and I was like, 'I’ve got to get to 18. I’ve got to get to 18. I’ve got to get to 18.'
"I put so much pressure on myself that I lost three in a row really, really badly, and I couldn’t play. I talked to my coach and he sat me down and said, 'Why are you trying to get to 18? This makes no sense. Everyone puts all of this pressure on you. Your goal should be 30 or 40. Eighteen is such a low goal.'"
Williams also drew distinction between the Open Era, during which she and Stefanie Graf captured all of their major titles, and the Amateur Era that preceeded it. Court won 13 of her major titles before the Open Era, a time when tournaments like the Australian Open featured draws as small as 32 players compared to the standard 128.
"I would love to catch up with Margaret Court. She played a different era, so her 24 grand slams were a little bit different in Open Era of tennis. long story. It was a different draw and there were different elements, so they changed it in, I think the ’60s to open-air tennis, and so that’s when it became people like me playing. But when she played in the Open Era, she won several Grand Slams, and so that was really awesome for her too."
The American had a chance to tie Court's all-time record in Melbourne, but felt it would have been too early for her to play a tournament of that magnitude.
"I didn't want to go to Australia - or any tournament - just to compete. I want to go with the mindset and the mind-frame that I am here to win. I am not here just to show up and take up space in the room.
"When I realized that if I went to Australia, I would be just filling a seat, that’s not how I have traditionally done my career. I always entered with a mindset frankly to win, and yes, I don’t want win them all, but at least the mental side was there."
The competitive instinct was clearly on its way back during the 40 minute interview, and while it may not have been at full strength in time for the first major tournament of 2018, it was certainly on display at the BNP Paribas Open, where she played her first WTA tournament in 14 months.
"I feel like there is one day, I am going to wake up and I am going to say, 'I’m done.' I know that when that will be, but I will know the feeling and I don’t have that feeling yet.
"I didn’t have it in the last year, with everything that happened, so when it comes, I’ll know."
Williams covered a range of topics with Ritholtz, including the physical adjustments she's made in her career, the ever-evolving advancements in racquets and fashions, business advice, and her love of all things "super."
"I watch a ton of Netflix. I am a total DC comic nerd. I do still like Marvel. I love Marvel comics as well.
"I honestly think I was a superhero in a different life in another dimension, you know, like I was Miss Marvel or something."