Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams has made Championship Saturday in her last four appearances at the All England Club. Will this edition be any different?
Seeded No.6 this year, the 39-year-old American already owns the Open Era record for most major singles titles, tallying 23 over her legendary career. As she looks to add to her vast trophy collection in her 20th Wimbledon appearance, Serena will open her campaign against Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Tuesday. She has never lost a first-round match at Wimbledon, posting a 19-0 record, and is an astounding 77-1 in the opening round at the majors.
"I think that the women's draw is so deep, regardless of who you play," Serena told reporters on Media Day at Wimbledon. "You really have to show up now. There's no longer matches that are going to be a sure walk-through. You just have to really have your head in, have your game on.
"I feel like, if anything, everyone plays really hard. I feel like it doesn't matter who you play, you have to be ready. Everyone's here. Everyone worked really hard to be here."
Given the abbreviated grass court season this year due to Roland Garros' one-week postponement, most of the top players come into Wimbledon with less preparation than they're used to. Players have also been mindful of their schedules given the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which begin two weeks after Wimbledon.
That's not the case for Serena, who has frequently eschewed smaller grass-court events and played Wimbledon cold, doing so with remarkable success. Serena also confirmed she will not be heading to Tokyo, choosing to opt-out of what would be her fifth Olympics.
"I'm actually not on the Olympic list," Serena told reporters. "Not that I'm aware of. If so, then I shouldn't be on it."
Serena has the most grass-court wins (121) and the best grass-court winning percentage (88.4%) among active players. She is already second in Wimbledon match wins behind Martina Navratilova (120). A victory in her second-round match would be her 100th at the All England Club.
"It's a little different walking the grounds now," Serena said, commenting on the changes in place after Wimbledon was canceled last year due to the global pandemic. "I feel like Wimbledon, in general, feels a lot different, but it still has a very special feeling."
On paper, Serena's draw to her 24th major title is a tough one. After opening against Sasnovich and then either Bernarda Pera or Nao Hibino, Serena could book a rematch of the 2016 and 2018 Wimbledon finals against former No.1 Angelique Kerber. It is a match that became even more intriguing after Kerber won her first title since beating Serena in the 2018 Wimbledon final, capturing Bad Homburg this weekend. Also looming as potential opponents before the quarterfinals for the American are No.9 seed Belinda Bencic and Coco Gauff.
None of it phases Serena, who is used to playing as the biggest target in the draw.
"It's definitely made me better, to be honest," Serena said. "I've had a big X on my back since '99, since I won the US Open. When players play me that hard every single tournament, every single match, every single Grand Slam, it just doesn't matter where. You just get better.
"It's been difficult mentally when someone might beat you and they lose directly in the next round almost every time.
"At the end of the day, that's why I'm Serena."