LONDON, (Reuters) – Such has been Serena Williams’s iron-fisted dominance of women’s tennis that the American is one Wimbledon title away from achieving a ‘Serena Slam’ and halfway towards completing a rare calendar Grand Slam.
While Wimbledon was abuzz yesterday at the prospect of the world number one winning her fourth major in a row, Williams did not want to stress out at the prospect of pulling off a feat she last achieved as a 21-year-old in 2003.
“I don’t feel any pressure to win all four,” said the 33-year-old U.S., Australian and French Open champion.
“It doesn’t make it feel any different, which I think is a good thing,” added the world number one, who is being tipped to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to pull off the calendar slam. “Maybe if I would happen to win here, then maybe I might start feeling it after that.
“Ultimately, I’m taking it one day at a time and I’m not thinking that far.”
Dressed in a psychedelic hot-pink and blue skinny tight pants and with her mass of long crimped hair falling loosely over her shoulders, Williams certainly looked relaxed for a woman marked out as the overwhelming favourite for this year’s Wimbledon title.
While rival Maria Sharapova picked her out as “the one to beat” and called her achievements “incredible,” men’s champions Roger Federer and Andy Murray were more cautious.
“She’s a phenomenal athlete across all sports. The stuff that she’s done is obviously incredible,” said Murray. “In terms of what she’s trying to achieve this year, I think the easiest thing to do is to kind of get ahead of yourself.
“I’m getting asked questions about her winning four slams in one year. She still hasn’t played her first round here.
“Grass is a very, very tough surface to win on, especially over three sets. Because you play badly for 30 minutes and a match can be over.”
Federer added: “She’s a great talent. But the biggest mistake would be to think being in the final of the U.S. Open already.
“To be mentally ready for the challenge when she wants to be up for it, I think that’s what’s so admirable about her.”
Williams certainly agreed with her peers.
“Being mentally tough is my biggest strength,” said the top seed, who rather than playing any competitive tennis prepared for her pursuit of a 21st major on the manicured grass courts owned by golfing great Jack Nicklaus.
“My dad always said growing up, ‘Tennis is so mental, you have to be really mentally tough’.
“I guess I really took that to heart. Also being the youngest of five really made me have to scrap and be tougher. All those things played into action.”