MELBOURNE, Australia – Serena Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has said that the WTA World No.16 is “ready” to win her 24th Grand Slam title at the 2019 Australian Open.
Williams, who stands just one short of Margaret Court's all-time record of Grand Slam singles crowns, last won a major in Melbourne in 2017 before a period of maternity leave.
She returned to the Tour last year and reached the US Open final but was beaten by Naomi Osaka.
Mouratoglou says that she was not emotionally and physically ready to win in New York, but that five months on in Australia the 37-year-old is now back to her peak.
Speaking after Serena’s three-set fourth-round victory over Simona Halep, he explained: “I think she's fitter than she was last year, because even though she really made a lot of effort to come back in shape, I don't think she had enough time.
“Having a baby is a big thing, so for a top-level athlete to come back and be 100% fit after having a baby, I don’t think there was enough time.
“I think now she's ready physically. I think emotionally, too, because it's a big change in anyone's life to have a baby and you need to get used to a new life. It took a bit of time.
“But I feel now she's back to being Serena on both the physical and emotional side.
“I think her level is good. I think she needed a big fight, and it happened today, and I think it's a great thing. Especially when it ends like that.”
The coach’s confidence in his player is absolute, with the 48-year-old Frenchman backing her to go all the way in Melbourne for the eighth time.
“Of course I believe she will win,” he said. “If I don't believe she will win I should coach somebody else.
“First of all, I always think she can win, and she will win. I think I should be in that state of mind. Because she's Serena.”
The pair have collaborated for seven years now and it is the attitude of the player that has most left the coach awestruck over that period.
“It's going to be difficult to summarize it in a few words,” he said when asked what he has learned from Serena. “I mean, when you start this job, you have an idea of what a champion is in terms of mindset, and she just comes from that 100%.
“She doesn’t think like other players. I have worked with a lot of players in my life… there is only one Serena in terms of mindset.
“You become who you are by how you think. There are a few things that champions do or think that are different than other people.
“I always tell this story. Roland Garros has always been a difficult tournament for her in the past, and when we started 2012 she just lost in the first round. And after she started to win Grand Slams again, she won Wimbledon, US Open, Olympic gold, et cetera, she told me she was struggling to win Roland Garros. Last time she won it I think was in 2002 and we were in 2013 when she started to talk to me about that.
“We made a plan, and she worked incredibly hard to win this one, and she won it in 2013. So 11 years after. After the trophy ceremony, she went to stretch, and she told me: ‘Come with me, I'm stretching.’ After two minutes she turned to me and said: ‘Now we have to win Wimbledon.’ She already forgot it. She was chasing something for 11 years, not two minutes, 10 minutes after she was already focusing on the next goal. That's different. There are guys who win one tournament and they celebrate for 15 years.”
Since taking over as Serena’s coach, Mouratoglou has guided her to 10 major titles, three WTA Tour crowns and an Olympic gold medal.