NEW YORK: Serena Williams once again arrives at Flushing Meadows poised to rewrite the tennis record books — if her own troublesome right shoulder and increasingly emboldened rivals allow.
The 34-year-old US superstar matched Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 grand slam singles titles with her triumph at Wimbledon in July.
With a seventh US Open triumph she can break Graf’s record, and continue her march toward Australian Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24 grand slam titles.
She could also break Graf’s record of 186 consecutive weeks atop the world rankings, and surpass Chris Evert for most US Open singles titles won in the Open Era.
But after seeing a frustrating year go by between her 21st grand slam win and number 22, Serena said she’d learned to let history take care of itself.
When the final grand slam of the year gets under way on Monday, the pressure could be on again.
Serena’s bid to retain her Olympic singles title ended in Rio de Janeiro this month when she was sent crashing out of the third round by Elina Svitolina.
Serena was clearly hindered by the shoulder injury that had forced her out of the Montreal WTA tournament as she served up eight double faults and 37 unforced errors in the straight-sets defeat.
Since then she has withdrawn from her WTA title defence in Cincinnati, saying the inflammation in her shoulder “continues to be a challenge”.
If Serena isn’t at full strength, Kerber is just one of the players poised to pounce.
The German defeated Serena in the Australian Open final in January. Seeded second in New York, she is one of three players with a chance to seize the number one ranking if Serena falters.
Third-seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza also has a shot at the top, although the 22-year-old who stunned Serena in the French Open final will need her best US Open ever to do so.
Fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland also has an outside chance at the world number one ranking if she can claim her first grand slam title.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2016.
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