Tennis great Steffi Graf has backed Serena Williams to match and even beat Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam titles, saying the American’s determination and experience will get her over the line.
Williams, 37, has won 23 majors so far over a storied career and is gunning to match Court’s mark at the Melbourne Open on the Australian’s home territory.
She pulled clear of Graf’s 22 by winning at Melbourne Park in 2017 while eight weeks pregnant and many already consider her the greatest of all time.
Graf, who is married to Andre Agassi and no longer actively involved in the game, is back in Melbourne for the first time in 15 years and said Williams still had all the attributes to win more Slams.
“I don’t know if she can do it here (equal the record) but I believe that she can absolutely,” she told the Melbourne Herald Sun Thursday.
“Her game, her serve being such an incredible weapon. I think she at any time is dangerous.
“With the experience she’s had, she’s still so determined and if she enjoys it why not. If her body holds up I do believe that she has a big chance (to pass Court).”
Court won 13 of her 24 Grand Slams before 1968, when the women’s game entered the Open era and became fully professional.
Graf, who won four Australian Opens among her 22 titles, said Williams would almost certainly go down as the greatest ever women’s player, given today’s standards are so much higher.
“I would probably say with the career she’s had, that she’s not even finished at this point, then yes, I would say so,” she said.
Court, 76, said ahead of the tournament that she doesn’t worry about the prospect of being overtaken by Williams and can always take comfort from winning 40 Grand Slam doubles titles to go with her singles crowns.
“I think that no player will be able to beat my record of 64 Grand Slam titles in total,” she said.