Former world No. 1 Serena Williams must rethink her approach to Grand Slams after her latest bid to win a record-equalling 24th Major singles title came unstuck at Melbourne Park, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou has said.
The 38-year-old American, who is looking to match Australian great Margaret Court’s mark, has reached four Grand Slam finals since giving birth to daughter Olympia in 2017 but failed to win any of them.
She arrived at this year’s Australian Open having won the Auckland Classic title but was beaten by China’s 28-year-old Wang Qiang in the third round.
“We have to accept the fact that it’s not working,” Mouratoglou told the BBC.
“We have to face reality, but she’s positive that she can make it, otherwise she probably wouldn’t be on a tennis court any more.
“She believes she can and I believe it too. She’s not that far, but we have to change a few things.
“Maybe come back with a different angle, strategy and goals so she can make it. She does feel positive, she feels negative too because it’s a failure when she doesn’t win a Grand Slam.”
The Frenchman also said time was not on Williams’ side in the pursuit of the record.
“She had everything to retire, 23 Grand Slam titles… it’s difficult to know how many chances she’ll have. I don’t know how long she’s going to be able to play, but being able to reach four Grand Slam finals says a lot about her level,” he said.
“Her level is good enough but we have to understand what’s going on, why she’s not able to win. There’s a big difference between reaching a final and winning one.”
Williams said she made “far too many errors to be a professional athlete” when she lost to Wang. She had 56 unforced errors in that encounter and limiting them could be at the top of her list.
Court said last month that she thinks her record will eventually be broken but Williams may not be the one to do it.
According to The Australian newspaper, the 77-year-old believes that the top men’s players like Roger Federer (20 Slams), Rafael Nadal (19) and Novak Djokovic (17) may well beat her mark before Williams does it.
“I’ve always said the record was there to be beaten, the 24,” she said.
“Even some of the guys are going after it. The 24 has always been there to be beaten.”
Four of the last five women’s Grand Slam champions, with the exception of 28-year-old Simona Halep, are all under the age of 25. They are the newly crowned Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, 21, Bianca Andreescu, 19, Ashleigh Barty, 23, and Naomi Osaka, 22.
When asked if Williams could still win a 24th Slam with the young guns staking their claim, Court added: “I don’t know. It’s interesting. It’s an ask. There’s a lot of young players coming through.
“Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka play well. Ash Barty. It’s one thing to win one. The hard thing is to stay there. That’s what makes real champions. The players who have won more than one have stayed there and that’s what makes them champions.”