Serena Williams and her pursuit of No. 24
In the semi-final of the United States Open, Serena Williams took the first set from Victoria Azarenka (6–1) in just 35 minutes. She seemed to be in total control of the match. But from there on, the tide began to change, with everything going Azarenkas’ way. Serena’s grunts and screams got louder; it was as if she wanted this badly. But her intensity dropped. Finally, two more sets later, Azarenka ended Serena’s dreams of adding a 24th Grand Slam singles title to her legacy and winning one as a mother.
The American has been one title behind Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record for over three years now. Her last major title came in the 2017 Australian Open.
Tale of three mothers
Earlier, on Wednesday, after prevailing over Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarter-finals, Serena, the mother of a three-year-old girl Olympia, had said: “It just shows me how tough moms are. Whenever you can give birth to a baby, honestly you can do anything.”
While she beat one working mother in the quarter-finals, ironically, it was another mother who ensured Serena’s quest for a record 24th Grand Slam title fell short yet again. Azarenka is mother to three-year-old Leo. A custody dispute over her son forced the Belarusian to take a break away from the game since 2017.
Last major title in 2017
For quite some time now, Serena has been carrying the pressure of a personal desire of matching Court’s record of 24 major titles. She has made no secret of her burning desire to equal that record.
After winning the 2017 Australian Open, Serena took a maternity break. But since her return after having a daughter, she has lost four Grand Slam finals.
She is 38 now. Her 39th birthday a little over two weeks away. So, the question now is: How many more chances will Serena get to reach her 24th Grand Slam title?
For now, she has two weeks to shake off the disappointment of the US Open loss, and resume her pursuit of the 24th Grand Slam title on the clay courts at the French Open.
Perhaps she can take some inspiration from Azarenka’s post-match speech: “I hope women around the world know that they can do anything because being a parent is the toughest thing. Once you can balance that, you can do anything.”