Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou admits that Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 grand slams is on his mind and that he’s more interested in helping his student break that record rather than equal it.
After a turbulent seven months, Williams managed to turn her season around by capturing an 18th major title with her victory at the US Open, to climb to second place alongside Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert in the Open Era slam leaders list.
The American went on to secure the year-end No1 ranking for a fourth time in her career – a record 12 years after she did it the first time – and claimed her third consecutive trophy at the WTA Finals in Singapore on Sunday, to become the first woman to pull off a threepeat at the event since Monica Seles in 1992.
When it comes to Williams, her list of records and achievements are endless but Mouratoglou insists the 33-year-old’s motivation has not waned and that rewriting history will continue to drive her next season.
“She’s very motivated. She’s writing tennis history all year long and there are many more pages to write and I think this is exciting enough to keep her motivated,” the Frenchman told Sport360° after Williams’ final victory over Halep at the season-closing championships.
“The other thing that is important that is her body – to keep it healthy. But she has a great team around her so I’m not worried for that at all. I don’t have any doubt that next year the challenges we set we’re going to make them happen.”
Asked how big of a goal is Graf’s record of 22 majors, Mouratoglou said: “I don’t care about 22, I care about 23. Of course you think about it but it’s still far… 18 is very far from 22 or 23 so let’s look at the next one and then the next one and then we’ll see where it leads.”
Williams was not as forthcoming when she was questioned about her hopes for next season.
“I never really talk about my goals. Thank God, because if I mentioned them last year, I would’ve been sorely disappointed with my year this year. I do have goals, but I always keep them to myself. No disappointments,” she said.
“I’m so looking forward next year. I can’t wait to get started again. It’ll be fun.”
Both Williams and her coach agree that her tough week at the WTA Finals, which ended in victory, bodes well for 2015.
Williams was crushed by Simona Halep in the round robin stage before she returned the favour in similar fashion, storming to the win in the final four days later.
Mouratoglou was impressed by the quick turnaround.
“She was not herself that day and that’s what I told her, I said ‘this match doesn’t mean anything, it was not you on the court, so if you come here and play it’s going to be a totally different match’.
“And she showed that she was able to really bounce back from 0 to 100 after a few days – but she’s Serena,” he said. “We’re happy because the last two big challenges (the US Open and WTA Finals) we made them. It’s good to end the year like that.”
Williams added that her defeat to Halep last week will serve her well in the future.
“It was good for me to lose that match, because now I know what to expect next year. I really know how to be ready for that next year.
“So I know what to go home and what to work on once pre-season starts,” she said.
Know more about Sport360 Application